This Is Us is the most popular show on television right now. Everyone has fallen in love with the Pearson family and their struggles through life, from miscarriages to addiction to the loss of a loved one.
But even the most die-hard fan of This Is Us probably doesn't know these secrets, revealed by creator Dan Fogelman. Fogelman is a fan of the show himself, even if he knows what's coming.
"I love the actors," Fogelman told Glamour. "It always surprises me what they do. And to feel an audience roll with a show and laugh at the right points and get the sniffles [at others] is very rewarding."
It Wasn't Always Called "This Is Us"
"It was originally called 36, which is the age they're all turning at the beginning," Fogelman reveals. "I didn't like it. I had done a series of movies where I had never titled them and no one can agree on the title. I threw 36 on it, and then I never liked it. Nobody ever liked it. I came up with This Is Us, I think, when I was in editorial. I decided I liked how it looked at the beginning [of the show], and I put it in there. But, there was a lot of debate over what the title of the show was gonna be."
Dr. K Has A Sentimental Name
"I’m a huge New York Mets fan, so [ballplayer] Dwight Gooden was Dr. K (because the symbol for a strikeout in baseball is a K)," Fogelman told Glamour. "And I always thought, 'that would be a funny thing to nickname a doctor. My wife’s father’s side of the family are Katowskis—Polish—and I always liked the name. So, I put that name in there for [her] side of the family."
NBC Has Some Say, But Not A Lot
"They always said early on, 'When you go off the air around Christmas time, if there was some sort of cliffhanger that can lead into the break, that would be good,'" Fogelman shared. "We had always known this thing with Toby was gonna happen around that time, so that was a little guided by that. For the most part, though, [NBC's] notes have been kind of small and smart."
Age Is Just A Number
Mandy Moore has a unique challenge, which is that she has to play multiple ages of the same character.
"At first I was really excited and selfie-ing it up," Moore says of her "grandma" version of Rebecca. "Now, it’s like, ‘Here we go again!’ It takes about three and a half hours. It’s not an easy process. But I’m so grateful. Who gets to play a character from 27 to 66? I feel really lucky.”
There Was Never Hope For Jack
One of the biggest plot mysteries is how Jack Pearson dies. Fans often wish that he could still be alive to help the family with their issues, but Milo Ventimiglia says it was never an option.
"No, Jack was dead from the beginning [even though they removed that line in the pilot]," said Ventimiglia. "But life happens, death happens. Having Jack be gone in the present day gives so much to the [adult] kids [to play].”
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The Ending Is Clear
Fogelman wants the show to run for as long as possible, but he knows how to end it when that time comes.
"[But it won't be] 10 [years from now]. I’ll be dead if I do this show 10 years from now 'cause it’s really hard!" he joked. "But I think I kind of know what the next four or five or six seasons look like of this show. I don’t have every single moment planned out, but I know where the big moves are for the show in every season. Because this show plays [with] time so much, you need to have a plan."
Break-out star Chrissy Metz revealed that her character has a real life inspiration.
"Kate is loosely based off of Dan's sister and their relationship, where he was very successful as a writer and she was struggling with some issues," Metz said.
On the show, Kate struggles to find herself while her twin brother, Kevin, lives a successful Hollywood life. She often wonders where she fits in and worries about being left behind.
Jack Pearson's facial hair has basically become its own character on the show, but Ventimiglia says fans shouldn't get too attached.
"I would never do that (totally shave it off) to the hair and makeup department," he said. "We will see a different version of Jack. We will see clean-shaven Jack at some point. He’ll never be soul-patch Jack."
Art Imitating Life
The characters on the show seem very realistic (for the most part,) and the cast says they themselves can see similarities between them and the people they portray.
"When the producers found out Chrissy Metz could sing, they immediately had to put that in," Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby, revealed. "She sang live on-set twice, they recorded it, and that’s what you saw on television.”
"There's a lot of similarities [with me and Kevin]," Justin Hartley admits. "I was like, ‘Is Dan following me around?’ I think Kevin is afraid of heights, and I’m afraid of heights. He gets seasick; I get seasick. He’s annoying to be around; I’m annoying to be around."
In season one, Beth and William eat pot brownies, and Susan Kelechi Watson and Ron Cephas Jones spent their day off practicing.
"Ron and I were nerds and got together that weekend [prior] and just talked about the scene," Watson revealed. "We did not eat pot brownies together! There was no pot in the brownies on-set, either!"