The TV twist you won't see coming

Mandy Moore stars in the TV series This Is Us.
Mandy Moore stars in the TV series This Is Us. Christopher Polk

THERE'S a lot of hype around the new American drama This Is Us, and for good reason.

Its stars have been hitting the red carpet for Hollywood's awards season thanks to Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations.

But it's hard for star Mandy Moore to explain to Australian viewers, who finally get to see the series next week, what the show is about.

A big twist at the end of the first episode, expertly written and executed by the cast and crew, drops an unexpected bombshell about how all of the main characters are connected.

Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore in a scene the TV series This Is Us.
Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore in a scene the TV series This Is Us. Ron Batzdorff/NBC

I wouldn't dare spoil it for you and I recommend you avoid Googling it to enjoy the episode as it was intended. I certainly can't remember the last time a show has surprised me in such a positive way (Game of Thrones' "red wedding" episode isn't a fair comparison tone-wise).

"Reading it (in the script) and even seeing it for the first time, my jaw just dropped," Moore tells News Regional Media's The Guide.

"I read it initially and then re-read it. I was like 'no way I can't believe I didn't see that coming'.

"I was one of the first people to go in and read (for an audition). I really, really wanted it. It stuck out not only because it was off cycle (from LA's traditional pilot season) but because it wasn't like anything else shooting."

The series reunites Moore with writer/creator Dan Fogelman, with whom she worked on the animated film Tangled.

"In my copy of the first script after the reveal he had (written) this note about what the series would be moving forward and he signed it 'M Night Fogelman'," Moore laughs.

"Dan has a really good way of wearing his heart on his sleeve without letting it ever feel saccharine, and his writing is always undercut with wit. He's super emotional and he obviously loves what he writes."

What Moore can talk about is her co-star Milo Ventimiglia. They play a young couple expecting triplets.

"It's our job as actors to find chemistry with people, even when it's not there. With Milo it was there instantly," she says.

Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore star in the TV series This Is Us.
Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore star in the TV series This Is Us. Chris Haston/NBC

"I felt immediately comfortable with him, and I could see a way in to what it would be like to love this person."

What Moore didn't immediately warm to was the idea of portraying a triplet birth. A 3D scanner was used to create a 15kg prosthetic belly to conform perfectly to her body.

"Don't do what I did and Google triplet deliveries," she laughs.

"I was on YouTube viewing birthing videos and it was slightly traumatising. I was so much more scared than I was before. I found it more helpful to talk to my friends about giving birth and we had a nurse on set, so she walked me through the stages of child birth. I wanted it to be as realistic as possible."

Moore has starred in more than a dozen movies after first rising to fame as a singer, but This Is Us is her first lead TV role.

"There was a fair amount of expectation (before the US premiere). All of us collectively are so proud of this and I'm just relieved for it to be out in the world," she says.

"The potential for a show like this is endless… I hope this runs for years and years."

This Is Us premieres on Wednesday, February 8 at 8.30pm on Channel 10.

Topics:  channel 10 television

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