This Is Us Star Sterling K. Brown on How His Own Life Parallels His Character: 'I Loved My Dad Tremendously'
The award winning actor reveals his personal connection to his character and advises to keep tissues handy while watching
Have you recovered from that emotional, unexpected twist in Tuesday’s premiere of This is Us yet? You might want to keep those tissues handy when it comes to this new drama, advises star and recent Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown.
Spoiler warning: For those who haven’t watched the season premiere of This Is Us, plot details will be revealed ahead.
“You should be prepared to be moved,” Brown tells PEOPLE. “Whether or not you’re moved to tears all depends on the individual, but you shall be moved indeed.”
Brown’s portrayal of Randall, a family man who just found and re-connected with his biological father, personally hits very close to home for him.
“Randall lost his adoptive dad relatively early on and is looking to reconnect with a man he’s never known,” explains Brown. “My dad passed away when I was very young, so the parallel for me that was most easy to tap into is that while Randall is a successful businessman with a beautiful wife, beautiful children, a gorgeous home, he has this hole in his heart because his father is not present.”
“I have two beautiful boys and I have a gorgeous wife, I do ask myself, ‘How cool would it be if my dad were here to experience all this with me?’ To meet his grandchildren, to meet the woman I chose to share my life with, where Randall has an option to try and fill that void, I don’t. To be able to inhabit someone who has that option is sort of cathartic for me in a way,” he adds.
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Brown, who just came off his first Emmy win for his portrayal of Christopher Darden on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, admits that this personal connection has made his work on the show even more interesting.
“The scenes between Randall and William [his father], between Ron (Cephas Jones) and myself are, there is a lot that is easy to tap into,” he admits. “I loved my dad tremendously and he left me – in the 10 years that he was in my life – with a tremendous amount of love. All I can think about is how I get to pour that into my children, pour that into my work, so that’s how we sort of connect.”
So what can we expect from Randall moving forward?
“You’ll get a chance to see how this relationship with his biological father plays itself out, inviting him into the home and how it turns things a little topsy-turvy,” says Brown. “Randall is very Type A and is used to having things under control and now he’s introducing someone into his life that he doesn’t have that same control over. William is sick, it looks like he is terminally sick, so he’s trying to gauge just how close he and his family can get to this man who could be gone at any particular moment in the very near future.”
“It’s up and down in terms of, does he introduce them to the children and does he tell them who William is or does he keep that secret?” he continues. “So he’s trying to protect himself and his family while at the same time yearning to be closer. You also get a chance to see the dynamic and interplay between the brothers and sister and just how they grew up as a family and how they relate to each other to date. Our storylines are kept separate during the pilot but obviously they start to intertwine as we move forward in the story.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on NBC.