Stallone will appear in a plotline about Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) big movie which, on the show, is directed by Ron Howard. Fogelman gave props to This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia for making that happen as he starred with Stallone in 2006’s Rocky Balboa. “We needed a big star for his (Kevin’s) movie,” said Fogelman, “and we’re really excited about the (episode) script.”
While Ventimiglia did the initial reach, his character of Jack Pearson won’t appear in the scene with Stallone. Rather, Stallone’s character, a veteran actor, “will be talking toward Jack Pearson” while speaking to Kevin, said Fogelman. Essentially it’s a speech about life and lost fathers (Jack, in the adult Kevin era, is deceased).
The movie that they’re starring in is a period war piece, with Kevin playing a young soldier. Fogelman said that it would come as no surprise to see Stallone Emmy-nominated for the role.
Rupp, who played the mother on That ’70s Show, comes to This Is Us via the show’s scribe Bekah Brunstetter, whose play in L.A. this summer, The Cake, starred Rupp.
Regarding the reasons for Jack’s death, “If I say everything, there is nothing to watch,” said Fogelman. “If this is the question that is haunting people, in the course of the second season, you’ll get the answers and more. The first episode has a first giant piece of the puzzle that will set the internet abuzz. That’s the best I can say without spoiling.”
While the backstory of Jack’s death has consumed This Is Us fans, it is likely to be blown away by other “big whoppers” which Fogelman is promising.
Season 2 opens with the present day story of the three kids — Randall, Kate and Kevin — a month or two after the death; it’s the Pearson children’s 37th birthday. Randall and Beth are still trying to adopt, Kate is focusing on her singing career and Kevin is acting in his film and carrying on his romantic relationship with his ex-wife. The past story picks up the morning after Jack and Rebecca’s big fight.
A big clip from season 2 was dropped today at TCA — not a great spoiler here, but definitely a tearjerker. In the scene, the older Randall (Sterling K. Brown) asks Mandy Moore’s Rebecca how his parents chose him to adopt. Flashback: We see Rebecca in a wheelchair at the hospital with Jack, who wheels her to the window of the nursery. He points to where their child — whom they lost — was to lie in a crib, and it was near baby Randall.
The present-day voice of Rebecca tells Randall, “I said ‘No’, but your father was so sure. I was tired and grieving and he just kept pushing me. He was so determined you were meant to be… Sometimes in a marriage, someone has to push to make the big moves, and often it was your father. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but none are, and your father wasn’t perfect either, but he was pretty damn close, as close as they come. He pushed this stranger on me, and that stranger became my son, and that stranger became life, he became you.”
Despite the fact that the scene left some in the Beverly Hilton ballroom sniffling, Fogelman mentioned in the press scrum that there were other emotional scenes that rival it.
This Is Us reps the first broadcast drama to be nominated in six years at the Primetime Emmys. In total the show counts 11 nominations. This Is Us returns to NBC on Sept. 26. 20th Century Fox TV is a producer on This Is Us.