Even Sterling K. Brown needs a few tissues after this week’s This Is Us.
The actor fielded questions and comments during a Facebook Live immediately following Tuesday’s heart-wrenching episode, and he was overcome with emotions. In the installment, titled “Memphis,” Randall’s biological dad William (Ron Cephas Jones) succumbs to his battle with cancer.
“I’ve seen this episode a few times now and it still gets me,” Brown said as he opened his 12-minute Facebook Live, which also seemed to serve as an unofficial therapy session. “Proud of this show. Proud of the work. So happy to be a part of something like this.”
Brown, who was in Vancouver getting ready to start work on Shane Black’s Predator, got visibly emotional when he spoke about the immense success he’s felt being a part of This Is Us and what he learned.
“Nobody knew that this show was going to be what it has become. We knew that it was something that we were proud of and we felt that it could be something that moved people and touched people, but to see the way in which you all are responding and feeling …,” he began. “It’s not my goal to bring you to tears. That happens to be the byproduct of what we do. Tears do happen to come, but I want you to feel connected and recognize that we’re all in this together and that no man or woman is on an island unto themselves.”
“And if you have family that you haven’t talked to in a while or friends that you feel that you have gotten out of touch with, then call them up. And let ‘em know how much you love them and how much you care because tomorrow is not promised,” Brown said, pausing for a moment as he wiped away tears from his eyes. “But it’s not, and you gotta let let the people know while they’re here how much they’re appreciated and how much you love them.”
The Golden Globe nominee also opened up about how grateful he is to be on This Is Us, saying that he was happy he gets “to do that” and “help people do that.”
“It’s one thing to entertain, to educate, but to edify, to lift people up, that’s -- to God be the glory,” Brown said, before apologizing for making more people cry.
Brown shared that he himself went through a similar experience that Randall did with William, revealing that he had an uncle die from cancer. And he acknowledged that fans wanted to see William alive in the present day a little while longer.
“I know a lot of people out there are like, ‘Man, can there be a miracle? We need to have your bio dad around for a long time to come,’” he said. “And there are miracles and I know that does happen. That just wasn’t the story that we were telling.”
“There are a lot of people who have to deal with the grief of losing people from this horrible disease, this debilitating disease. I want those people to know that they’re not alone -- that in some small way, we are here with you.”
“What a pleasure to be on a show who wasn’t afraid to tell the story of a man who was an addict, someone who is routinely ignored and relegated to the fringes of society and to give him such beautiful humanity and to tell a story in which everybody comes from somewhere,” Brown said. “William’s story was so beautiful -- such a beautiful soul; a musical, lyrical, poetic soul who got lost, who got caught up in grief and got caught up in the wrong step and then had the ability to bring himself back. That gets me.”
Brown’s TV dad, Jones, also had a visceral reaction to Tuesday’s episode, in particular William’s final scene in the hospital bed.
“It was an open mouth moment,” Jones told a small group of reporters of William’s gut-wrenching death scene, following a private screening of Tuesday’s episode. “I can’t believe what I’m reading. It affected me that way. All of us -- me, Sterling and Susan [Kelechi Watson] -- walking out of the building after the first table read and each of us were waiting for the other to confirm what we just read.”
“It was like, ‘Did you see what I just saw?’ 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,” he added.