This Is Us could have been Eight is Enough. The hit NBC drama came this close to being a big screen movie about —wait for it! — a family of octuplets. That’s right, a year before This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman’s heartwarming family drama about the Pearson family and their triplets, who are affectionately dubbed the Big Three, made its debut on NBC, the show creator wrote an 80-page draft about the Pearson family with the intention of making it a movie script.
Fogelman made the revelation in the upcoming issue of Emmy magazine, according to People. And just like the TV version of This Is Us, the bombshell in the original script would have come in the final moments.
“There was going to be a reveal at the end [of the movie] that they were octuplets born in the late ’70s or early ’80s,” Fogelman dished.
But the savvy This Is Us creator realized that a one-off movie wouldn’t be the best way to tell the story of the Pearson clan, so he adapted the idea for TV.
“The reason I was struggling with [the film] wasn’t the plot,” Fogelman explained.
“It was about these characters and how I didn’t want to ‘beginning-middle-and-end’ them. I wanted to do this continuous story — which felt very much like the theme of the show.”
This Is Us star Mandy Moore and her TV husband Milo Ventimiglia are not parents in real life. But Moore told late-night host Conan O’Brien that playing a mom of three on the buzzy NBC drama has made her “totally ready to have kids.”
Moore talked to Conan about the tween versions of the Big Three, played by child actors Mackenzie Hancsicsak, Parker Bates, and Lonnie Chavis. (The teen version of the trio is played by Hannah Zeile, Logan Shroyer, and Niles Fitch.)
“We have three extraordinary young actors on the show,” Mandy said of her young This Is Us brood, according to ET. “They’re very attentive. I think it’s a lot of their first jobs for most of them and any time there’s a scene that requires them to eat, I have to remind them.”
Mandy also said that Ventimiglia is also very paternal with their kiddie co-stars, reminding them to slow down while filming certain scenes that could take hours to shoot.
Moore said early on that she didn’t even know how to change a diaper, but she learned how to get the job done for the show’s throwback scenes to the Big Three’s newborn stage.
“I had crew members showing me how to change a diaper,” the This Is Us matriarch revealed. “I’m terrible, but yes it has sort of activated that maternal side of me that I’m totally ready to have kids now.”
While the octuplet population isn’t represented on This Is Us (triplets were easier to cast?), series star Sterling K. Brown told Emmy magazine that many people from all walks of life have already told him they are “very thankful for the representation.”
“Black men my age…older people, younger people, gay, straight, transgender,” the This Is Us star said. “[I’ve had] conversations across the board, talking about how this show is something special, that it’s entertainment and edification, but it’s also healing in a very beautiful way at a time in our country when things seem incredibly divisive. I feel like everybody — Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, what have you — can enjoy the subject.”
Take a look at the video below to see Mandy Moore in mom mode on This Is Us.
This Is Us returns to NBC for Season 2 this September.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]