This Is Us recently aired its series finale, so let’s go back in time and discover how every star was cast for their roles in the drama!
The stars of NBC’s time-warping family drama (plus creator Dan Fogelman) walk you through their casting experiences way back in 2015.
Susan Kelechi Watson
“Susan came in from New York to read for it, and we just loved her,” creator Dan Fogelman said. “We all knew her from Louie. I wrote a monologue for her. I knew it was going to be a strange thing to give so much of the ending for the second episode to a character that you haven’t spent that much time with yet. [But] when I showed it to people, even internally, for the first time, everybody was just going, ‘Oh my God! Susan!’ That was one of the first reactions people would have. She’s just so lovely. Her and Sterling — you think they’re married in real life. They’re just so beautiful together as a couple.”
“I had felt, to be honest, in my spirit that something really good was going to happen,” Watson says. “I was doing a flurry of auditions at that time, and this was one of them. It’s funny because I went in for this on the same day that I went in for another audition for a friend of mine — and completely bombed. After that was so terrible, I got a call that [they were interested in me for This Is Us], and that made me feel kind of better, but I was still feeling really bad about that horrible audition.
“Mandy did a scene, and did a little test with Milo [Ventimiglia]. She was the one character in the pilot that didn’t get a little monologue, so I wrote one for her that she read; it is the monologue in the second episode where she dresses down Jack. So essentially that was what got Mandy the gig — I always wanted her — and it was almost exactly the same [as what aired], except I think there was a f—in it. It was so powerful when we played it for the network and studio that it was over. It was, like, ‘Done!'” Fogelman said.
“I was one of the first people that came in,” Moore recalls of the audition process. “And then I heard, ‘They really liked you but they’re going to New York and read a bunch of girls there,’ and I didn’t hear for a month. That’s when I got word: ‘They’re going to bring you back and do a chemistry read with Milo and some other guys. And there are going to be some other girls there.’ They gave me the original [script pages] — which was the pregnancy dance, that first scene in the first episode — and Dan also had written the monologue that I say in the second episode: ‘You have to quit drinking — be a man and fix it.'”
“I just fell in love with her,” is how Fogelman sums up his first meeting with Metz. “Everybody knew the character was going to break out a little bit if we got it right,. So I brought her in to read with Justin. Chrissy got it that day in the room, and calling her was probably the highlight of the process for me. We told her she’d gotten it, and she was in the parking lot at NBC, and she started screaming and crying… It was just such a cool moment.”
“We had seen so many actors for that part, and it was all that opening monologue about the Challenger explosion,” says Fogelman. “And you hit a point where you get fatigue from hearing the same thing over and over, and we just weren’t quite feeling it yet. And then Justin came in. Our heat had broken in our casting office, so we were doing it in this conference room. It was the worst place to read a script. And I remember John Requa kept saying, ‘How can a person that f—ing good-looking be funny?’ He was so annoyed by that.”
Sterling K. Brown
“We never really read anybody else — we just wanted him,” shares Fogelman. “He did that monologue where he dresses down William at the front door, and we’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s good. We can move on from casting that part. That’s it.’ It was the easiest. I thought it would actually be the hardest, because I didn’t know if they were going to want a name in that part in some shape or form, and sometimes you have to push for that. As it turned out, the same studio had O.J. in the can, so they were like, ‘Great!’ And I was like, ‘Really? It’s that easy? Amazing!'”
“I remember thinking how charming he was and that he had a wildly different, but also somewhat similar energy as Milo and Jack,” Fogelman says. “And I was like, ‘Oh, this is just interesting.’ I remember that gut instinct because there wasn’t that much to read at the time. Just feeling good about him.”
“It was a very, very easy casting,” Huertas recalls. “I drove away from that thinking, ‘I don’t know…’ There were a bunch of other guys that went in before me that looked a lot different for me. I was the only person of color up for the role. And then I got a call 30 minutes later saying, ‘Hey, so they want you to start next week.'”
“He was not at all what I had in my brain,” admits Fogelman. “I was picturing a much more normal, schlubbier guy like me. Milo came in with long hair, beard, and a motorcycle, and a leather jacket. He met with us and did a scene. I was like, ‘That’s him. Let’s base the family off of that.'”
“It was another [role where] we’d been looking, looking, and found a lot of people we really liked. And then Chris came in, and we were getting fatigued by the scenes in the script, and it was like, ‘Okay — there’s the guy.’ I had never watched him on The Knick, but Glenn was a Knick fanatic, so he immediately had a man-crush on him the second that Chris walked in,” Fogelman recalls.
What do you think of how the stars of This Is Us were cast?
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