This Is Us' Mandy Moore Says Ignoring Her Bond With Milo Ventimiglia to Play Early Rebecca/Jack Was a 'Challenge'

This-Is-Us-Season-3-Episode-7-mandy-moore-interview

A great relationship with a co-worker is something to be desired… until it gets in the way of playing awkward, earnest new love.

This Is Us star Mandy Moore tells TVLine that she and co-star Milo Ventimiglia had to “hold back on” their off-screen ease with each other in Tuesday’s episode, which chronicled a cross-country road trip that took place when Rebecca and Jack had known each other for just a week.

“That’s something we kept in mind,” says the actress, who over the course of two-plus seasons has logged far more screentime as Jack’s longtime wife and widow than she has as his new girlfriend. She says the younger iterations of their characters “had an instant, palpable chemistry, sort of like a chemical reaction to one another,” she notes. “But having to pull back on the history and familiarity we share with each other — and playing younger, like 25 or so during that time — was something we had to keep in mind, as well.”

If you watched this week’s episode, you’ll remember how the future Mr. and Mrs. Pearson’s interstate adventure was filled with sexy motel romps and sweet slow-dancing, but also halting pauses in conversation and unexplained nightmares. In short: This Jack and Rebecca were, naturally, a long way from the cozy couple we’ve come to know.

The version of the characters we saw then were “a little less sophisticated and polished,” Moore says. “But I love the challenge, always.” —With reporting by Diane Gordon