'This Is Us' Season 2's Best-Kept Secret: Ron Howard Is Back

This Is Us producers have been keeping a lot of secrets from viewers -- and not just secrets surrounding the mystery behind the death of Jack Pearson. While there was a lot of buzz over the summer that movie icon Sylvester Stallone would be a guest star on the second season of the NBC drama, producers were more tight-lipped about the return of Ron Howard, the fictional movie's director.

But there he was, in the Season 2 premiere of This Is Us, directing Kevin Pearson (Justin Hartley) in a Hollywood movie. Howard even led the film crew in a "Happy Birthday" song to Kevin. According to the Hollywood Reporter, This Is Us production headed to London to shoot the scene around Howard's Star Wars schedule. Fans who missed THR's blurb had no idea Ron Howard would be back for This Is Us' second season.

Ron Howard's return appearance on This Is Us kicked off an episode that was full of surprises -- some good, and some very bad. Ron previously appeared in This Is Us' first season penultimate episode "What Now?" when he tracked Kevin's phone number down after seeing him in an off-Broadway play and offered him a spot in his new Hollywood film.

[Image by Ron Batzdorff/NBC]

Ron Howard previously told Vanity Fair he wasn't sure if his first season This Is Us cameo be a one-off appearance or not.

"You know, I don't know," Howard said earlier this year. "When [series creator] Dan Fogelman asked me to do this—I've known him for quite awhile, and I love the show—he said nothing about what's going to happen with this movie project. So I haven't heard."

But Justin Hartley said he would welcome the chance to work with Ron Howard again, especially since their first scene took place over the telephone and he didn't even get to act with him. In fact, Hartley told the Los Angeles Times he shot his side of the phone call scene a week prior to Howard's visit to the This Is Us set. Hartley said he hoped Ron Howard would be able to return for the second season of This Is Us.

"Hopefully he's not too bogged with work and he can come down to do some more," the This Is Us star said.

Ron Howard is busy working as a director, so his acting career has been on the back burner for decades. There is no word if Ron will be on hand for future episodes about the Sylvester Stallone movie Kevin Pearson is filming on This Is Us, but it would be pretty epic to see these two real-life stars in a scene together.

This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

[Featured Image by Nathan Congleton/NBC]