When this is us Creator Dan Fogelman envisioned how Rebecca’s funeral would end in the series finale, and recalled how his grief over his mother’s death seemed to obliterate much of her memorial service.
“I lost my mum and similarly sat up all night all night before deciding that people were waiting for the perfect eulogy from me, and it had to be the right level of touch and fun and it had to be well written and I had to tell reporters on a teleconference on Tuesday,” the European Parliament told reporters on Tuesday. Today—and frankly the next week or two—she was, as I describe her in the text, as I floated through space and time and didn’t hear anything. I worked so hard on this eulogy, and I don’t remember a single word I said.”
Tuesday’s episode viewers saw (read a synopsis) something similar happening to Randall who spoke with his siblings at their mother’s funeral. But due to the stylistic and editing choices on the show, the audience was unaware of what was said or how it was delivered.
“I wanted to capture that visually,” Fogelman said. “It was always about a son floating at his mother’s funeral as if she was almost in slow motion and a bomb went off and he didn’t hear anything anymore.”
However, he still had Sterling K. Brown, and Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz woke up in front of the pool on the day of the shooting. So when TVLine spoke with Brown and Hartley on Sunday and Monday, respectively, we asked them to give us the lowdown on what they said when it was their turn to pay tribute to their mother on screen.
TVLINE | We saw you at the stand but didn’t hear what you said. Did you give a eulogy like Randall?
Sterling K. Brown | So, the flip chart I had [Randall] Talking to Beth, actually, in between what it takes, I just start writing things down. In between setups, I was like, “Well, if I was going to do this, what would I say?” And so, I began to compose something. Then it was the funeral scene the next day or two days later, and I asked my man in the props, and I said, “Rick, do we still get that pillow?” And he’s like, “Yeah, sure.” And I turned to my page and wrote, say, a few pages, and began to write a little more. It was just kind of this exercise about what would I actually say if I had to be put in this situation? And so, I said a few things.
And it was funny because at one point Dan came out and said, “If the person writing the Emmy we got is because of something I wrote on a piece of paper I would…” [Laughs] He didn’t say anything violent, but he did say something like that.
TVLINE | Justin, Stirling wrote something. What did you do when you got up there?
Justin Hartley | Free style.
TVLINE | truly?!
Hartley | Well, it wasn’t in the script I was going there. Not written at all. And then the day, Ken [Olin, director] And Dan was like, “Justin, get up there and say something.” I’m like, “F-k, okay.” So, I went there – I didn’t have a conversation that day, I was basically an extra person. And then I’m gonna go up and do this eulogy and give a speech or something? [Laughs] It’s actually really easy, because I mean, I’ve lived with this character for six years. Even on the days when I’m not working out, I still think about him and the show and all that stuff. So, it’s really easy to go back in time and give a speech about how great my mom is and what she wants for us, how she wants to be remembered, all that kind of thing.
TVLINE | Do you remember how your colleagues reacted to what you were saying?
Hartley | Yes, my instructions, unbeknownst to anyone, were to get people to get emotional, and then also get them to quit. So, it was a daunting task… but I said some honest things that I think I want Mine daughter to say in Mine A funeral, we hope.
Make sure to check out our burning this is us Latest questions yet, our conversation with Mandy Moore (who attended Rebecca’s funeral!) and our deep dive into the show’s latest quickie!