Note: This story contains spoilers for seasons one and two of NBC’s “This Is Us.”
Since its debut in 2016, “This Is Us” has won over TV audiences and critics with both its tearful and hilarious moments. While the Pearson family certainly is unique in many ways, they are also incredibly relatable in others. The show has also turned a largely unknown cast into stars.
Let’s take a look at the talented cast of “This Is Us,” both on screen and in real life.
Character: Rebecca Pearson
Her aspirations of being a famous singer may not have come true, but Pearson family matriarch Rebecca has done a lot over the years to keep her relatives close. After the tragic death of her husband, Jack, Rebecca has to hold herself, and her three growing kids, together.
Played By: Mandy Moore
Former pop star Mandy Moore has been building up her acting resume since the early 2000s. In “This Is Us,” she transforms herself from 20-something newlywed, to mom of triplets, to present-day grandmother, sometimes in a single episode. Hers is one of the most demanding roles in the show because she has to play Rebecca at all stages of her life.
Character: Jack Pearson
How can you not love Jack? He overcame an abusive, alcoholic father and his own drinking issues (twice) to be the amazing family man we see up until his shocking death in season two. We’ll be interested to learn more about his mysterious relationship with his little brother next season.
Played By: Milo Ventimiglia
Along with his co-star Moore, Milo Ventimiglia might have been the most well-known actor among the cast of “This Is Us” when the show debuted. Known for his work in “Gilmore Girls” and “Heroes,” Ventimiglia now plays the father every child wants.
Character: Randall Pearson
Abandoned at birth only to find a loving, adoptive home with the Pearson family, Randall turns out to be a driven, kind and funny adult. He also seems to have taken more than a few notes from his father, Jack, on how to be a great husband to his wife, Beth, and father to his biological (and foster) daughters.
Played By: Sterling K. Brown
Sterling K. Brown is arguably the breakout star of “This Is Us.” Previously known for “Army Wives” and his award-winning turn in “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” Brown has brought us to tears many, many times on “This Is Us,” especially in the scenes following his discovery of, and connection with, Randall’s biological father, William.
Character: Randall Pearson (Teen)
When we see him as a teenager, Randall yearns to know more about his biological past and racial identity, while also excelling in school. With his options wide open, he’s unsure of where to go to college.
Played By: Niles Fitch
Like his older counterpart Sterling K. Brown, Niles Fitch acted on “Army Wives.” He also had a recurring role on “Mistresses.” He also appeared in the stage version of “The Lion King” and told Young Broadway Actor News that he got started in the entertainment business by modeling for advertisements at the age of 4.
Character: Kevin Pearson
His biceps and sense of humor somewhat make up for the fact that Kevin Pearson, a.k.a. “The Manny,” is often the hardest member of The Big Three to love. Kevin always seems to be making some sort of cringe-worthy decision, but we’ll continue to give him second (and third) chances.
Played By: Justin Hartley
Soap opera and “Smallville” actor Justin Hartley has a tall order in humanizing a character who could have been a self-centered, needy, pretty boy. And when you hear Hartley talk in real life, he doesn’t seem at all like the narcissist his Pearson counterpart can be.
Character: Kevin Pearson (Teen)
Teen Kevin is kind of full of himself, though the high school football star struggles with finding his new niche in life after suffering a knee injury. He also shares a budding romance with his childhood sweetheart, Sophie.
Played By: Logan Shroyer
“Logan just came in and felt like a little star. He felt like that football player; he felt like he just had that golden boy persona that I think you need to have with Kevin,” the casting director of “This Is Us” told The Hollywood Reporter of the young actor. Shroyer told Vulture that he wears brown contacts in his scenes in order to match Justin Hartley’s eye color.
Characters: Randall, Kate And Kevin Pearson (Kids)
The Big Three have their ups and downs as young siblings (especially Randall and Kevin), but ultimately stick together and keep their parents plenty busy.
Played By: Lonnie Chavis, Mackenzie Hancsicsak And Parker Bates
Lonnie Chavis (Randall) had a scary incident happen to him in 2016, right before the show’s debut, when he narrowly escaped a kidnapping in New York! Meanwhile, Mackenzie Hancsicsak (Kate) got her start in local theatre, acting in her native Santa Clarita, California. Texas native Parker Bates (Kevin) got his start in commercials at the age of 6.
Character: Toby Damon
Nice guy Toby is the king of the grand gesture and a loving companion for Kate who can almost always make her laugh. It will be interesting to see this usually upbeat guy go through what looks like a new bout of depression, as teased in the final moments of the second season finale.
Played By: Chris Sullivan
Fun fact: Chris Sullivan actually wears a fat suit to play Toby. But we won’t hold it against him since he makes Toby such a lovable guy. You might have also seen Sullivan in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” where he played Taserface, or in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” where he played Benny in the first season.
Character: Beth Pearson
Beth Pearson is a strong, patient and cool woman. She’s supported her husband, Randall, through two mental health breakdowns, his decision to quit his job, and his pursuit of becoming a foster parent. Not to mention she’s raising two young girls and holding down a full-time job while managing a low-income apartment complex (another one of Randall’s ideas). In short, she’s a saint.
Played By: Susan Kelechi Watson
Before “This Is Us,” Susan Kelechi Watson played Louis C.K.’s ex-wife in FX’s “Louie,” and had smaller roles in network shows “The Blacklist” and “NCIS.” “This Is Us” has allowed her a much bigger spotlight as the often unflappable Beth Pearson. Did you know that when she was coming up, Watson had help from Denzel Washington and Phylicia Rashad?
Character: William Hill
After his biological son, Randall, tracks him down and moves him in with his family, William is suddenly a big part of a whole new family. His cancer treatments, the dive into his past as a drug addict and, of course, his death, made us cry harder than we have in a long time.
Played By: Ron Cephas Jones
Ron Cephas Jones brought some serious skills to the role of William and his background as a drug addict, bisexual, musician/poet.
The 61-year-old has been acting regularly in movies and TV since the 1990s, with roles in “He Got Game,” “Mr. Robot” and “Luke Cage.” He and Brown owe us several boxes of tissues after the ugly cries they caused us during the “This Is Us” episode “Memphis,” from the first season!
Character: Tess Pearson
Young Tess, daughter of Randall and Beth, gets an accidental joy ride with her drunk uncle Kevin and had to adjust to having an older foster sister in the second season of “This Is Us.” She’s often seen on-screen with her little sister, Annie.
Played By: Eris Baker
Eris Baker is a 12-year-old actor who has been working since she was 7. According to Essence, Baker got her start in a Target commercial and thought she totally messed up her audition for “This Is Us.”
Character: Annie Pearson
Cutie pie Annie Pearson steals many a scene on “This Is Us” as the youngest child of Randall and Beth. But she didn’t prove to be a very good pet owner, based on the fate of her lizard, Mr. Giggles (RIP).
Played By: Faithe Herman
Faithe Herman is at the start of her acting career but she already has her own Instagram and Twitter accounts. According to what her mother told Voice of TV, Faithe is the youngest of five siblings and she’s never taken acting classes—but she has studied ballet.
Character: Miguel Rivas
Miguel is Jack Pearson’s best friend dating back to before he knew Rebecca. After Jack’s death, Rebecca reconnects with and marries Miguel.
Played By: Jon Huertas
Jon Huertas was a regular on ABC’s “Castle” before his current role on “This Is Us.” He’s handled aging into the gray-haired version of his character well, as he’s only 41 years old in real life.
The enigmatic foster child of Randall and Beth has kept the couple on their toes since she was introduced. We got to know the most about Deja and her mom toward the end of the show’s second season. The “This Is Us” writers made it very difficult to go from sympathizing with the girl to watching her smash up Randall’s car in the final moments of the season.
Played By: Lyric Ross
Lyric Ross beat out several other top contenders for the role of Deja. Off the screen, Ross sounds like a pretty normal kid from Illinois who apparently enjoys riding her bike, going fishing and playing video games.
Sophie is Kevin Pearson’s childhood sweetheart and ex-wife. We’re still a bit bummed their second season reunion didn’t work out.
Played By: Alexandra Breckenridge
Alexandra Breckenridge had to work around her pregnancy in the second season of “This Is Us.” She previously acted on “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story” and “True Blood.”
Character: Dr. Nathan Katowski
Dr. K., as he’s known on the show, hands out wisdom and wisecracks along with medical care. His speech in the show’s first episode, about taking “the sourest lemon that life has to offer” and turning it “into something resembling lemonade,” helped show Jack that he and Rebecca were meant to adopt Randall.
Played By: Gerald McRaney
Gerald McRaney has a long film and TV acting history, including more recent roles as a baddie on “Longmire” and a billionaire industrialist on “House of Cards.” Some of you may remember him from his role at the title character on “Major Dad” back in the early ’90s. There’s no question he won over “This Is Us” fans with his warm-hearted character.
When we first meet Madison, who’s being berated by Kate at an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting, the skinny, blonde character doesn’t come across as very likable. But after Kate accidentally hits Madison’s car, the two begin an unlikely friendship. Madison even became a member of Kate’s wedding party by the end of season 2.
Played By: Caitlin Thompson
The actress who plays Madison is married in real life to “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman. She must just look like a Madison because Thompson actually played another character with that name in the reboot of the “90210” series.
Character: William (Young)
Audiences have gotten a look at William’s life as a young man in flashback scenes on the show. Many of them are tear jerkers. Before he was a heroin addict who felt compelled to leave his newborn son at a fire station, William Hill was apparently a poet, musician and devoted son.
Played By: Jermel Nakia
Jermel Nakia has said he carefully watched scenes with the older version of his character to pick up the nuances of his “old soul.” In real life, the actor loves to travel and wants to visit every African country.
Child protective services social worker Linda introduces Randall and Beth to the foster care system and matches them with Deja. She also appears in scenes with Deja and her mom before Deja comes to stay with the Pearson family. “Miss Linda” is both matter-of-fact and compassionate.
Played By: Debra Jo Rupp
Best known as Eric’s mom Kitty from “That ’70s Show,” Debra Jo Rupp leaves the comedy behind for her social worker role on “This Is Us.” But Rupp probably enjoys it that way, as she has said she prefers acting on the stage versus the screen.
Character: Kate Pearson
Kate Pearson has struggled with her weight her entire life—but she’s slowly come to realize it doesn’t have to define her. She’s recently found love with her new husband Toby and has a steadily improving relationship with her mom, Rebecca, whom she largely blames for her self-image issues.
Played By: Chrissy Metz
Once partly resigned to being a talent scout and agent’s assistant, Chrissy Metz struggled to find jobs after a part on “American Horror Story,” before landing her biggest role on “This Is Us.” She’s since become one of America’s sweethearts, writing a book and constantly showing off her sharp sense of style.
Character: Kate Pearson (Teen)
When we see her as a teenager, Kate loves singing, watching “Sex and the City” and her dog. Plus, she’s still daddy’s girl and takes Jack’s death particularly hard—even blaming herself for it.
Played By: Hannah Zeile
Hannah Zeile used to be a client of Chrissy Metz’s back when Metz was a talent scout! And she can sing in real life.
The show has clearly done a great job picking its cast! Which “This Is Us” character is your favorite?