‘This Is Us’: Ron Cephas Jones on William’s Return as Rebecca’s Guide
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read if you haven’t yet watched “The Train,” the May 17 episode of “This Is Us.”
Tuesday’s penultimate episode of “This Is Us” centered on the dreaded death of Mandy Moore’s Rebecca Pearson and the heartbreaking goodbyes of her children Kate (Chrissy Metz), Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Kevin ( Justin Hartley). But the hour managed to present some truly bright spots amid the undeniable grief. One of them, in addition to seeing Rebecca find Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) in the afterlife in the final moments, was the return of Randall’s biological father, William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones), or rather a imaginary version of him.
Rebecca saw William in her mind as her guide on the imaginary train in her mind, acting as the person who got her back to the caboose in the blink of an eye at the start of the sixth and final season and at the end of Rebecca’s metaphorical line. .
Jones spoke with Variety on returning to ‘This Is Us’ in his fan-favorite role for the NBC drama’s penultimate episode and why William was the one to help his son’s adoptive mother Rebecca move on peacefully afterward his battle with Alzheimer’s.
What was it like to come back one more time so William could lead Rebecca to the afterlife?
The interesting part is that Mandy and I didn’t have many scenes together. It was just planned. She had scenes with the younger me, played by Jermel Nakia. We had a scene where she confronts me, where she finds out that I live there with Randall and she walks into the bedroom and lays down the law as far as not letting him know she knew. And then when he finds out at the Christmas dinner table that she knew it all along, and it messed up his relationship with her. So it was tumultuous to say the least. But at the same time, that initial bond that William and Rebecca created, it was a sacred bond where she came to visit me and we decided we could have me in her life. And then she decided not to let that happen and I honored her wishes until Randall came to find me. So it was truly beautiful, hauntingly beautiful, as they wrote with Rebecca’s final days and being her guide on the train and her final moments. It was William, but it was kind of a haunting, ghostly spiritual layer that I hoped you would see. You have the impression to see that it is William, but there is something a little different in his behavior. , which was really telling that he’s in that place that’s between the afterlife. The two words that I keep describing are all hauntingly beautiful.
What was the final scene you had playing William?
At the end, the caboose, which means the end, is when William is there. And he has this nice little monologue where you see William’s face light up with this idea that the end is kind of the beginning. And that’s kind of what the monologue is about, just that endings can be beautiful. If you accept them for what they are, they are not always sad, they can be very beautiful. It’s those little bits of him throughout the episode, where you feel William so much without him saying much. It was all very visual and beautiful, almost like a silent film in some ways.
This interview has been edited and condensed.