Moore: I remember at upfronts [the industry's annual sales pitch to advertisers], we made a deal — do you remember this, Mi? We were at this party, and it was weird and I had never been to Upfronts because I'd never been on a show that's been picked up. We made a pact to like be in it together no matter what, to have each other's back.
Ventimiglia: They were our TV-wife-and-husband wedding vows. And I think that really set things in motion, and I think it, ultimately, landed onscreen where you were able to see what felt like a real-life married couple, good and bad. In the early days, that's what I remember the most is the pre-work to the scene work with Mandy — knocking on her trailer door and saying, "Hey, you want to sit and have lunch and talk about this?" Or she'd knock on my trailer and we would hammer out scene work like we were theater students. I've been going through thousands of images that I've taken in six years — holy God, it takes me right back to the moments of the experience of it. And I can remember it so clearly.
Q: Looking back at the whole series, are there choices that surprise you or developments you didn't see coming?
Huertas: When I joined the show, I didn't see or know that Miguel was going to be married to Rebecca. I got a call that I had to go get like a head cast, a life cast for something, and I was like, "Why are we doing this?" And they said, "Because when you're married to Rebecca, we're going to age you." I was like, "No, Jack's married to Rebecca. You guys didn't talk to the showrunner?" And then they told me, and I had an "Oh, s—" moment because, at that point, I had seen the pilot and I knew what kind of relationship Jack and Rebecca had, and I just knew that everyone was going to hate Miguel. And so [in] the beginning they did, they hated Miguel. And I remember having a conversation with Dan and Isaac and Elizabeth at the beginning because I was like, "Guys, they hate me. What are we going to do?" And Dan was like, "Trust me, Jon, trust me. I've got this plan. It's going to be great." And he was right.
Q: Can we talk about the kids for a moment? Every single one of the young actors has been so crucial to the magic of the series, from the OGs to the recent additions.
Ventimiglia: Mandy and I, having had the most kids — well, it's tough when you got a lot of different kids because that means you've got a lot of different personalities. And you also have to develop a bond with all of them together, collectively, but also individually. I remember Mandy and I being like, we've got work to do, we're sure that'll get done, but it's like, how do we have fun with these kids? How do we communicate with them when they have something that maybe they're unsure about talking about? I remember sitting around and doing homework with Lonnie [Chavis] and Mackenzie [Hancsicsak] and Parker [Bates], and then there'll be a flip and "action" is called, and you just see them snap into those moments of being your child.
I'm one of the ones here that doesn't have kids, so I don't understand that; I just have to believe in it. They've all been so remarkable. Even the ones who aren't children — Logan [Shroyer] and Hannah [Zeile] and Niles [Fitch] — every so often Niles calling me like his dad and being, like, "Hey, can I talk to you about this girl? Hey, can I talk to you about college? Hey, can I talk to you about a camera?" or whatever. The tough days, you know, they're kids and they don't want to be on set, and they want to be doing kids stuff.
Brown: We've had one set [of kids] that we've had the whole time. That's the part that will get me misty — watching them grow up. I don't know who starts it, but there's a circular sort of energy where it can't help but be anything but fun. I don't think I've had more fun as an actor than when I'm in the presence of those ladies. And they're all special actors. There's moments when Eris [Baker as Tess] came out to us, and she was so nervous about it, she just brought it and just destroyed. Lyric [Ross] has been here before — she's older than everyone, and I'm like, "All right, let me just sit and listen and take it in because this young lady has something to teach me." And Faithe [Herman] on the low end is a scene stealer — everything she does, she's just so adorable and her timing is so right on. It has been such a joy to be in their presence.
Q: What will stand out to you about this experience?
Watson: I think one of the biggest things, because it's one of the things that I've heard the most, is the opportunity to represent my culture in the way that I've been able to — through Beth, through her relationship with Randall and her kids. I've always known how normal it is to be a Black woman in America, as a human being, but for other people, it's been eye-opening to see that representation and how much they can connect to it. And also for people of my culture to know that normalcy and see it reflected in something back at them has meant a tremendous amount to them. And I don't take that lightly at all.