Magazine article Variety

Aging Gracefully

Magazine article Variety

Aging Gracefully

Article excerpt

"America has been tortured enough already."

But alas, not Mandy Moore. It's the last day of filming on Season 2 of "This Is Us," and for the sixth time on the finale's eight-day shooting schedule, Moore begins her day in the hair-and-makeup trailer, girded for the three-hour process that will turn the 33-year-old actress into the 68-year-old Rebecca. Moore estimates she's gone through the transformation more than 30 times - 20 this season alone.

Not that she's complaining about it. "I love that I'm given this opportunity to play this character from 25 to 68," she says. "That's so unheard of. So I don't begrudge the process that comes along with it."

The finale chronicles the wedding day of Rebecca's daughter, Kate (Chrissy Metz), and Toby (Chris Sullivan), which means the present-day action calls for Moore's near-daily transformation. Given the death of her husband, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), Moore's Rebecca is the only character who exists in all of the show's multiple timelines: from the 1980s when she and Jack first meet, through the '90s when they're juggling tweens (her favorite age, she admits) and then teenagers, to the present, where she's remarried and trying to resolve long-simmering issues with her three adult children.

"It's such an honor to be the glue of this family," she says. "I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility."

Playing older Rebecca she says is the most challenging age, not just because of the labor-intensive process but also because of the deep-seated emotion it inevitably carries. "If I'm in age makeup, something dramatic has happened," she says. "I'm being confronted by my son about the fact that I've been lying to him, meeting his biological father and pretending I don't know him, talking about the anniversary of my husband's death."

Even amid all of the show's mysteries, the transformation is "one of the most asked-about questions," she says.

The hair-and-makeup trailer is well lived in, fitted with six chairs for the actors and crammed with mementos of an intense season. Taped on the walls are photos of the cast in a range of stages (tracking Jack's famously fluctuating facial hair), as well as a chart listing their relative ages through the show's complicated timeline. Jack's stops abruptly in 1992.

There's a jubilant feeling of senioritis in the air - everyone's talking about the wrap party, set for the following night. The set is also abuzz about paparazzi photos that were leaked the day before, and crew members debate camera angles to try to identify the culprit.

Throughout the morning, other stars filter in and out of the trailer - Metz, Justin Hartley (Kevin), Caitlin Thompson (Madison). Ventimiglia is on set, too, even though he's not filming, to lend his support: "Someone made some money," he says regretfully of the spoiler-laden photos.

They're accustomed to Moore's lengthy stay in the trailer, but they know all too well their time might also be coming. We've gotten a glimpse of future Randall, which means Sterling K. Brown spent about four hours being transformed. He's on deck for another session later in the day.

And those leaked photos revealed that another of the show's stars had his turn too. "It gives me a kernel of satisfaction that other people now know what it's like," says Moore with a sly smile.

Moore arrives in the trailer promptly at her call time of 8 a.m, her long brown hair still wet from a shower, clad in a robe, jeans and Uggs and carrying boxes of croissants from a favorite bakery. (None for her, though - she's gluten-free.) On cue, hairstylist Katherine Rees first offers her conditioner, then Advil. It's not that she's hungover; she's preparing for the headache that inevitably comes as her hair gets pinned up ever so tightly. Moore gratefully accepts the pills as hair department head Michael Reitz wraps her hair around her head to fit under the wig cap, the first and easiest step in what will ultimately be a nearly three-hour-long odyssey. …

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