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/ Source: TODAY
By Erin Clements

“This Is Us” has become a weekly tearfest for fans, and Mandy Moore says she cries along with everybody else.

And there’s one episode this season that made her particularly emotional, the actress told TODAY.

“Where Kevin goes to Vietnam to kind of trace his father's path there to learn more about his father, and there were those shots of him walking the same path as his father,” she said. “Especially knowing the journey that his character has taken and the strides that he's taken to deal with his long dormant grief and feelings about his father and their relationship just really, really touched me.”

The storyline covering Jack Pearson’s time in Vietnam and the revelation that his brother, Nicky, didn’t die there, has made for some of season three’s most intense moments.

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“I always feel like it's an interesting note to touch on sort of the reflective sadness that Rebecca carries in her later years,” Moore said. “I think there's a lot of emotions that have been stirred up by the fact that Jack's brother is actually still alive. And he has been alive. And that was the secret that her husband kept from her while they were together and while they were married, before he passed away.”

Moore (who spoke with us while promoting her partnership with Nature's Way to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary) added that some of the most compelling present-day moments were those in which her character, matriarch Rebecca Pearson, strengthened her bond with the Big Three.

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“I think what's been really powerful, this season especially, is seeing her relationship with her children, especially with Kate and Kevin, sort of crystallize and feel their connection a little deeper,” she said. “Obviously we have a lot of underlying issues. And having seen them sort of combat them together, like, head to head and work through them together forces all of us to sort of hold up a mirror to our own lives and think about our families and the different family dynamics.”

However, she said, filming the scenes with young Jack and Rebecca are the most fun for her and co-star Milo Ventimiglia.

“We like to say because we have to spend the least amount of time in hair and makeup; we don't have to get there four hours before everybody else,” she said. “But Milo and I have always just have this very easy palpable chemistry. It's right on the surface. And so it's fun to kind of like lean on some levity in the happier years before there was trauma and grief and devastating things to overcome.”

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The episode that sees the young couple taking a road trip to California is one that stands out.

“That whole episode was just my favorite because we sort of got to live deep in the '70s,” she said. “And it was a bit of a fashion tour de force, I feel like, for my character. I mean, because later in life she is a mom of triplets, and that's less of a priority. But when she is gunning for that music career, she's going out to Los Angeles for the first time, she has, like, a whole wardrobe full of looks. So it was fun in a kind of girly surface sense. But again, like, just watching them kind of clumsily come together, it wasn't this perfect romantic storybook fairy tale. I loved that there was this reality of, here's a man who's just back from war and has PTSD, undiagnosed, doesn't know how he's feeling or why he's feeling what he's feeling, and a woman who's, like, desperate to sort of break through that.”

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Moore said she’s always touched when fans tell her how relatable the Pearsons are.

“I think any sort of feedback with people making a connection to these characters and these stories is always flattering,” she said. “I mean, I think it's always nice to hear of people who've lost a loved one and they're able to see their father in Jack, or to sort of look to Rebecca's strength throughout that particular ordeal and be able to look back with gratitude at the strength of a parent or sibling that sort of went through a similar situation. Just having new perspective and new eyes on something is holding a mirror up for people to examine the choices that they've made.”