This Is Us stars Chrissy Metz and Justin Hartley are still reeling from last week’s heartbreaking episode, in which Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) biological father, William (Ron Cephas Jones), died after battling Stage 4 cancer.
“First of all, I had to watch it alone because I knew what was coming,” Metz admitted to ET’s Nischelle Turner at Elton John’s annual Oscar party on Sunday, before jokingly chiding viewers who still have it unwatched on the DVR: “And for those of you who haven’t seen it, shame on you!”
The 36-year-old actress was so overcome with emotion that she chose not to have anyone over while watching the episode, something she’s frequently practiced. “Because I’m so close to Ron, and I love him as a human being and an actor, and I’m sobbing out loud … yeah, I’m going to watch it by myself,” Metz said.
Her TV brother, Hartley, had a similar reaction to the episode, titled “Memphis,” and he understood why fans wished William stuck around longer in the present day.
“We all love him,” the 40-year-old actor told ET at John’s Oscars party, reminding viewers that his death doesn’t mean the end. “Here's the thing about our show that's kind of cool. We go back in time, so he's not out of our story.”
Though it’s unclear how William would resurface in the future (and potentially in season two), Hartley was optimistic. “I'm sure he can,” he said. “That's kind of how the show works.”
In a recent episode, Hartley’s character, Kevin, shared a bonding moment with Miguel (Jon Huertas), Jack’s best friend and Rebecca’s current husband. It was a pivotal moment for the two characters, who haven’t had the best relationship up to this point -- the reason still remains unclear, but it’s most likely connected to Kevin’s late father Jack.
“I think that's why people related to our show so much because I think it's very much based on real life is and things take time,” Hartley explained. “Healing takes time and there's no quick fix. You can put a band aid and I'll help him through, but hopefully that's what they're gonna do. They're on their way to healing their relationship, or at least, get on better terms. It's an odd situation.”
With This Is Us easily the season’s most talked-about new show and already receiving a two-season renewal in January, Metz and Hartley reflected on why the show is having a huge effect on its viewers.
“It's the writers. We just speak the words. They're kind of incredible with that and it's such a gift to be on a show like this that's not just acting. It's changing people's lives,” Metz said.
“When you read something that touches you -- it's hard to explain to be honest with you -- just gives you a certain feeling in your soul. You just feel like something you have to do,” Hartley added. “To me, it was the character; I understood him. I felt like the show spoke to me personally. For me it was just how do I get this job?”
Following last week’s episode, Jones spoke about reading William’s death scene in the script, admitting to a small group of reporters that “it was an open mouth moment.”
“It was like, ‘Did you see what I just saw?’” he said. “It was that feeling of there’s something special here and I’m not sure if this is real or not. It was that moment of frightening horror and extreme excitement all in one.”
This Is Us returns next Tuesday at 9 p.m. PT/ET on NBC.
For more on last week’s heartbreaking episode, watch the video below.