'This Is Us' Creator, Mandy Moore on Rebecca's Devastating Speech as the End Nears

The cast reacts to Moore's tearjerker moment in Tuesday's episode and why it is one of the series' special scenes.

Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's episode of This Is Us.

This Is Us tugged on the heartstrings in its latest episode.

On Tuesday's hour, "Taboo," Rebecca (Mandy Moore) sat down Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown), with Miguel (Jon Huertas) by her side as emotional and moral support, to begin the difficult conversation of what to do as her Alzheimer's starts to gradually alter her mental faculties. During the scene, Rebecca revealed she was designating Miguel to carry out her final plan should she not be able to make those decisions herself. And, if God forbid he's no longer around or able to do so, she gave Kate the honor of being the primary decision-maker -- a surprise to everyone.

The emotions began to flow when Rebecca made her "last request" of her grown children, which was "less of a request and more a demand, actually."

"This disease is a real bastard and it's set up on a road that's going to have a lot of ugly twists and turns and I'm afraid it's going to be a lot harder on all of you than it will be on me and I hate knowing that. I hate it," Rebecca says, breaking down. "But what I don't want. I don't want every camera to be focused on me, so I need you all to hear my voice right now, your mother's voice with all of her faculties. You will not make your lives smaller because of me."

"This thing that's happening to me will not be the thing that holds you back. So, take risks. Make the big moves, even if they're small moves. Forge ahead with your lives in any and every direction that moves you. I'm your mother and I'm sick, but I'm asking you to be fearless. And if that seems like that is a tall order, well, it is, but the only acceptable response is a resounding, 'Yes, ma'am,'" she asks of the Big Three, prompting them to tearfully agree to her request. 

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Later in the evening, Kate asked her mother why she chose her of all people to be her designated person and it's a valid question, as the duo have had their share of ups and downs throughout the years. "You are my daughter and my best friend," Rebecca answers, with the episode flashing back to teenage Kate comforting her mother decades earlier when Miguel revealed he was moving. "It was always you, Kate."

All throughout the episode, the secret ingredient in a family favorite pie recipe was a lingering mystery. But after Kate and Rebecca shared a rare, but sweet mother-daughter moment, the Pearson matriarch shared the secret with her only daughter, a nice bow to an emotional episode.

Creator Dan Fogelman and the cast were on hand last month for a virtual panel at the Television Critics Association press tour, where they opened up about Rebecca's moving scene.

"We talked about that scene at length," Fogelman revealed on Feb. 11. "It is very much the setup for the back half of the season. It was one of those scenes that we knew was going to take seven minutes of our 42 minutes and 30 seconds of screen time we're allotted every week, and felt worthwhile... I lost my mom -- I lost her quickly and unexpectedly -- but I sometimes try and get inside of if it had been a long, protracted illness that she was at the beginning of, what might have been the thing in a fictional universe she might have wanted to say to me, and I think that's where we drove from a little bit."

"Mandy was so special that day that our A-camera operator for the life of the series, James Takata, wrote me a note about how he had never felt that kind of connection with an actor in his career at the moment when he was just completely present and filming Mandy do that monologue," he recalled. "And he had never felt that before as an artist... But it was not a kiss-assy note because if it was kiss-assy note, he would have sent it to Mandy and not to me. But it was that kind of scene and we all kind of knew it. I think Justin and Sterling and Chrissy felt it that day on set as well, and Jon being there with her."

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Moore acknowledged that it's these types of scenes that make being a part of the show "a gift." 

"It's never lost on us, and it's especially not lost on me. As we start to close out the show, I'm like, 'OK, I just want to be fully present,'" she shared on the panel. "I was super nervous because it was a huge -- like four pages of a monologue and it was right before Thanksgiving break. I'm like, 'I've just got to get through this and get to the holiday.' But I get to look in the eyes of these extraordinary people, and Justin and Chrissy and Jon and Sterling. And I get the honor and privilege of saying these words and I have this relationship with everyone. We're truly a family. And so, in that sense, there's such an ease to it of just being able to look at each of them and tell them the truth of what these words really are."

Her castmates also praised her work in that particular scene. Brown remembered sitting around the table while Moore did her work, "My first reaction was to just applaud. I, like, clapped in my seat... And then I got up and walked around the corner because we were in the cabin and I walked into the kitchen and I did what Mandy would do in season 1. She'd do this thing when she'd get ready and she'd throw her arms down and... [demonstrating]. But I was doing it out of the joy, like, 'This chick is f**king killing it, son.' That's a scene that I was like, Mandy Moore -- and I want to wax poetically about it for a second -- she's played herself from about 16 to 80-something and without batting an eyelash. Being the youngest member of our cast, but seamlessly going through time over the past six years. She's a killer, man, and that scene really, really touched me."

Added Huertas: "I think before you started clapping there was this really long breath before that that all of us took. I think it was rehearsal, it wasn't even when we were filming. And she brought it so hard in just the rehearsal that we were all in awe. Mandy, you really got all of us that day and that's probably the thing that moved me the most, especially in the moment." Hartley noted that when they read Moore's monologue in the script "you go, 'I cannot wait to see what this actor does with this. And you're impressed every single time, but you're not surprised." 

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. For more, watch below.

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