LOS ANGELES – Playing a mother of three on “This Is Us” has given Mandy Moore new appreciation for her own mother.
“I try to have a little more patience with my mother, now,” the actress and singer says. “You get older and you’re not as connected as you once were, yet parents retain that connection and intimacy. It’s got to be so hard – your own heart is living outside your own body.”
Rebecca Pearson, the would-be singer whose husband dies when her children are still living at home, struggles with doing the right thing, particularly since she has to be the family’s disciplinarian.
“I think he will always remain a hero in everybody’s mind,” Moore says. “In grief, the things we may have found upsetting about somebody sort of fall off and you’re left with the goodness of your time together. I don’t think that will ever change for the kids and, probably, Rebecca as well.”
Still, the series often shines a rather harsh light on Rebecca, particularly since the children question whether it’s right for her to pursue a music career.
Even Moore’s own parents wonder if the character should have pursued music. “Both of them are like, ‘She has the perfect life. Why does she feel the need for anything else?’ And I was like, ‘Wait a second. This was something she was passionate about. I would hope he would be understanding. It’s not like she was asking to leave for an exorbitant amount of time.’”
Through its flashbacks, the Emmy-winning “This Is Us” gives viewers a chance to see family life from different perspectives and at different junctures in time. That global view lets them understand what may have prompted a decision or stance.
Rebecca and her daughter, Kate, often argue about the past, including their relationship with Jack, the deceased husband and father. “Jack would come home from work and roughhouse with the kids and give inspirational speeches,” Moore says. “But she was at home, making the lunches and serving as the disciplinarian. She’s the bad cop.” And the feeling lingered.
When Moore was starting her singing and acting careers, her mother often accompanied her on the road. “Dad is an airline pilot and mom wasn’t working at the time, so I became closer to her as a teenager – at a time when most kids are pulling away from their parents,” she says. “I had this deep appreciation for my parents and the sacrifices they made. The disconnect in the relationship comes in your 20s when you’re like, ‘I know who I am. I’m building my own life.’ That’s when you get frustrated with your parents and they’re trying to give you their wisdom.”
Because Moore’s parents weren’t involved in the arts, they didn’t try to offer creative advice. Instead, they were her support system, helping her maneuver through a business that’s often very harsh.
Now, with 20 years in the business (and an Emmy nomination for last season’s work), the 35-year-old realizes “This Is Us” may be the best job she has ever had. “Milo (Ventimiglia, who plays Jack) and I try and instill that in the kids as well – appreciate this, hold on to this, don’t take it for granted and don’t expect any other job is going to be like this. This is rare. This is once in a lifetime.”
When Moore married musician Taylor Goldsmith last November, she was overwhelmed by the love she felt as she walked down the aisle. “I took the biggest breath before I went out and was like, ‘Don’t cry, don’t cry.’ If I could just access that for work, it’d be perfect. The (ceremony) was way more impactful and emotional than I thought it would be.”
With Goldsmith, she says, “I found my own version of Jack.”
She also got a bit of perspective on the men in the series. Goldsmith, she says, told her the series works because “all of the men on the show are such great examples of good men. They’re fallible. They’re human. But they’re trying to be their best. No one’s the anti-hero, no one’s doing horrible things. They’re all very respectable.”
When she heard that, “it makes you prouder to be part of the show – that it shows men in that light. They’re all good husbands and friends and fathers. But they’re not perfect. I love that, too.”
And in the future? What about Rebecca and her journey?
“In my mind, I’d like to think she found some community theater or something and started doing something. I have no idea,” Moore says. “There are things I definitely deviate from her on...but I think she doesn’t get the credit she deserves. She was always the glue of the family.”