If Mandy Moore is bracing for emotional whiplash, it’s understandable.
She and her musician-husband, Taylor Goldsmith, welcomed their first child in February, an event she says that turned her world “Technicolour,” and the pair collaborated on an upcoming second album.
The cloud ahead: The end of This Is Us, the NBC drama that she says proved a “dream on every single level,” from her co-stars to the consistently challenging work. The 18-episode final season, beginning Tuesday on NBC, will include an episode directed by Moore.
“It’s going to be so horrific to say goodbye in a couple of months” when taping wraps, said Moore. “I haven’t really wrapped my brain around it yet.” She plays matriarch Rebecca Pearson in the decade-shifting family drama created and produced by Dan Fogelman — who she says has steadfastly resisted pleas to keep it going.
Moore won’t have much of a lull after taping concludes. Next summer, the singer-songwriter and Goldsmith plan to tour in support of their follow-up album to 2020’s Silver Landings, with son August in tow. Moore calls him “the best thing in my life” and a look-a-like for his Dawes band frontman dad, including the dimple they share (“little butt chin,” as Moore cheerfully labels it on the baby, nicknamed Gus).
In an interview with The Associated Press, Moore talked about motherhood and what she sees ahead for her career, which already counts teen pop stardom, movies (A Walk to Remember, Saved!) and a lead actor Emmy nomination for This Is Us. Remarks have been edited for clarity and length.
AP: As a new parent, how would you describe your life now?
Moore: It’s all of the clichés, life in Technicolor. It’s a boundless love that you never could have imagined. It’s exhausting and exhilarating and everything in between. On a professional level, I approach my job with an entirely new heart. I want to go back to the beginning of this show now, because I have some idea of what it’s like to be a mother and what a mother’s love is and what it makes you do, and the crazy choices that you never could have imagined yourself making before becoming a parent.
AP: Your comment about wanting to revisit This Is Us with your new perspective brings to mind how protective Rebecca was when her son Randall’s birth father tried to enter his life.
Moore: That’s exactly what I was thinking about. That was a choice that I really was at odds with Rebecca about early on. It was really challenging to see how she possibly could have made that decision. And now being a mum, that was her baby. The idea that anybody could potentially harm your child emotionally or could potentially physically remove your child, all of that is unfathomable. So I definitely have a lot more compassion and empathy for the choice that she made.
AP: Dan Fogelman’s thrown challenges at you every season, building to Rebecca’s dementia. Can you recall your reaction when you learned what she’d face?
Moore: It was initially shocking, but also heartbreaking. This poor woman, at every juncture of her life, has had challenge after challenge. It really just says so much about who she is and what she brings to the table that with each challenge, she meets it with grace. I was also terrified, as I was when Dan initially told me, “Hey, we have this idea where you’re playing this character present day as we will be jumping around in time.” I think I had that same initial, “Whoa, can I do that?” when thinking about (playing) this woman with this very real diagnosis that millions of people across the country and the world deal with with loved ones. I wanted to make sure that I was doing my due diligence and approaching this chapter of her life thoughtfully, because I know what a platform the show has to really have an important dialogue around Alzheimer’s and dementia and diagnosis.
AP: Early in your acting career, you played several unlikeable, snooty characters, and expressed concern at one point about being typecast. Now you’re playing a beloved mum, so it looks like you weren’t.
Moore: I was not typecast. In fact, I’d love to get back to playing the villain a little bit more, especially after six years of playing arguably television’s best mum. I think for a while I kept coming up against being typecast in these sort of lovely romantic comedies and whatnot. And that is definitely a certain side of who I am. But it took Dan, and it takes for any of us, I guess, as actors or creatives, just one person to see something in you and to give you an opportunity that opens an entirely new world. And that is what Dan Fogelman did for me with Rebecca.
AP: What’s ahead for you on the music front?
Moore: This past July, we went back into the studio, the same group of musicians (on Silver Landings). And the plan is to pick up in June and July of 2022 and go on the road the way that we had intended a week before the world shut down because of Covid-19. I feel like we’ll have this fully realized tour of music from Silver Landings and music from my next record. That’ll be out probably right around the same time as we tour next year, and we’ll be able to bring Gus with us. So we’ll have a bus with mum and dad and Gus and play music every night. It’s the dream. It’s going to be a fun year in 2022.