This Is Us casting directors are keeping busy. With a supersized cast lineup that includes Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, and three incarnations of their characters’ kids ranging from age 8 to 36, the first season of the breakout NBC drama featured many familiar faces and newcomers. And in addition to recurring guest stars like Gerald McRaney (Dr. K.), Hari Dhillon (Sanjay), and Denis O’Hare (Jesse), This Is Us rolled out the red carpet for a slew of one-off appearances and cameos. Now, with the show’s popularity, fans can expect to see many more guest stars in future seasons.
Starting with the show’s pilot episode, This Is Us dove right into the guest star game, with a cameo by TV legend Alan Thicke.
The Growing Pains star played himself playing a guest star on Kevin Pearson’s (Justin Hartley) sitcom, The Manny, right before Kevin had a meltdown and quit the show. Sadly, Thicke died just a few months after his This Is Us cameo.
In addition to Thicke, popular stars Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Katey Sagal (Married With Children, Sons of Anarchy) played a TV network president and Kevin’s Hollywood agent, respectively, in the This Is Us episode, “The Big Three.”
Jami Gertz (The Neighbors, Still Standing) was another one-episode wonder. Gertz played Marin, a single mom who hired Kate (Chrissy Metz) for a job as an event coordinator. The guest stint reunited the actress with This is Us creator Dan Fogelman, who also created the ABC comedy The Neighbors.
In a memorable flashback scene, Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds) played Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) overbearing mother, Janet Malone. Perkins and Moore worked together previously in the 2002 movie All I Want.
Of course, one of the most memorable This Is Us guest appearances came courtesy of a cameo by Seth Meyers. The late-night host played himself as Kevin and his brother Randall (Sterling K. Brown) got into a fight in the middle of a New York street sidewalk. Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly that This Is Us showrunners reached out to Meyers for the part, which was shot on location in New York City.
“We said if they were in the vicinity of 30 Rock, it would be funny as sometimes happens when you’re walking through New York when you’re just randomly walking out on the street and there’s somebody from the entertainment community,” Fogelman told EW.
“We reached out to Seth to see if he would be willing to do it. We wanted a little comedic punch to the end of a very, very heavy scene, and he was willing to do it. Sterling and Justin flew out to New York, and we shot it with Seth. It was great.”
Brown told the Hollywood Reporter that while Meyers only had a small cameo role on This Is Us (the scene can be seen below), he delivered his lines in a variety of ways during rehearsals.
“He’s definitely gifted with comedic timing and joke delivery,” Brown told THR. “You do these things over and over and over again, and he never did it the same way twice, never. I don’t know how they figured out which one to use because they were all equally funny.”
Meyers isn’t the only celeb to play himself on This Is Us. Mario Lopez (Extra) played himself on a talk show discussing Kevin’s Manny meltdown. Also, Katie Couric played herself for an interview scene with Kevin that turned out to be a nightmare.
Sitcom legend Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons) also showed up in a guest role as a diner patron, while 1970s sweetheart Susan Blakely (Rich Man, Poor Man) played Anne, a widowed friend of Dr. K., in the standalone episode, “The Big Day.”
Other This Is Us guest stars include Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), Wynn Everett (Agent Carter), and recurring guest Ryan Michelle Bathe, who also happens to be Sterling K. Brown’s real-life wife.
And now that This Is Us has been renewed for at least two more seasons, it’s a sure bet that that more famous faces will turn up in future episodes. Showrunners have already teased that potential guest stars are reaching out to them due to the show’s massive success. And no doubt about it, the best guest is an invested guest.
In fact, several big name stars are admitted This Is Us fans, including Fred Savage (The Wonder Years), who tweeted about his love for the show to This Is Us star Chrissy Metz.
Metz told People magazine that she is in awe of the Hollywood stars who are now fans of This Is Us.
“We were at an event for ‘Women in Television’ and… Reese Witherspoon was like, ‘We watch your show, my daughter and I,’ and I was like, ‘Man in the Moon… What? Are you kidding me right now?’ ” Metz said. “Then Nicole Kidman was like, ‘Congratulations.’… It was so, so surreal.”
Even singer John Mayer has a soft spot for This Is Us.
Of course, one star This Is Us fans would really like to see is actor Morris Chestnut (Rosewood), who ultimately “replaced” Kevin on The Manny. Viewers have only seen Chestnut’s Manny in poster form this far, but in an interview with EW, Fogelman didn’t rule out the possibility of a future showdown between the two actors.
“You never know,” he said. “We’ve got to make a deal with Morris Chestnut.”
You can see the This Is Us scene featuring Seth Meyers below.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 pm. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly]