Those Rebecca-on-her-deathbed flash-forwards with which This Is Us likes to tease us every once in a while are tough on series star Mandy Moore, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think. “It’s sad, but it’s more of a challenge not to let my own emotions about where the scenes are going influence what’s happening to Rebecca,” Moore tells TVLine. “I don’t want those to bleed through. But wow,” she adds, laughing, “what a crazy journey of going through five-and-a-half hours of hair and makeup to play those scenes with Justin [Hartley] and Sterling [K. Brown].”
As viewers have seen over the past two seasons, the show frequently jumps forward to give us flashes of a time in the Pearson family’s life when its matriarch is seemingly at the end of her time on Earth. She’s laid out on a bed at Kevin’s house (which he apparently built after she asked), Nicky by her side (for reasons we don’t yet understand), and the entire family is on its way to see her (to say goodbye?). In the present-day storyline, Rebecca and her brood are coming to terms with the fact that her mental decline is gaining momentum by the day.
Accordingly, filming the NBC drama’s upcoming final season — which kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 9/8c — led to some tough days. At the end of one particularly hard one, which Moore recalls as being “a really cathartic experience,” she was overcome with relief. Also? “It was a lot of words!” she says. “It was right before Thanksgiving vacation. I was like, ‘OK, there’s three pages I never have to think about again.'”
And while Moore couldn’t reveal many details about what’s ahead, she did offer this sobering overview of the show’s swan song: “Rebecca is on this journey in an inevitable direction, and there’s a lot of loose ends to tie up.” — With reporting by Diane Gordon
Drop your predictions for This Is Us‘ final season in the comments.