‘This Is Us’ Emmy Winner Ron Cephas Jones Reveals How He Was Inspired To Play William Hill

Maarten de BoerNBC

This Is Us is two for two in the guest actor category. Ron Cephas Jones, who plays recurring character William “Shakespeare” Hill on the NBC drama, took the Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series trophy at the 2018 Creative Arts Emmy Awards.

Cephas Jones follows popular This Is Us guest star Gerald McRaney, who took home the award last year for his portrayal of beloved Dr. K., Deadline reports. Cephas Jones won his first career Emmy on his second consecutive nomination for his role as Randall Pearson’s (Sterling K. Brown) biological father on This Is Us.

Following his character’s death in an emotional episode (“Memphis”) near the end of the show’s first season, Ron Cephas Jones only appeared a few times throughout the second season of This Is Us. But his flashback scenes provided a powerful punch. The 61-year-old actor earned his Emmy for his work in the Season 2 premiere episode, “A Father’s Advice.” The episode featured Cephas Jones reading one of William’s poems and it included a touching flashback scene with his TV daughter-in-law, played by Susan Kelechi Watson.

After the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, Ron Cephas Jones talked to reporters about his character, describing William as “a flawed man with a checkered past.” The actor also revealed he was inspired to play his tortured, artistic character by characters from works by groundbreaking playwrights and novelists like August Wilson and James Baldwin. The actor revealed that he researched the authors’ works to form the William Hill character.

Cephas Jones told reporters he doesn’t think a character as flawed as William would have been as beloved in the past, saying, “It would have been difficult We are moving forward and moving ahead.”

Ron Cephas Jones previously told Essence about his other inspirations for William.

“William is a historical figure for me. He’s the culmination of the men in my family and in my neighborhood. He’s August Wilson and Amiri Baraka. He’s the men of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. There were so many layers to this man with a dubious past, confronting it and trying to make the best of his present.”

As for his character’s future on This is Us, well, technically there is none. But no one is ever really dead on the time-jumping NBC drama, and showrunner Dan Fogelman already teased a very cryptic photo which hints that fans will learn much more about William’s secret past in Season 3. Fogelman posted a photo (you can see it above) that shows Cephas Jones holding a baby. Fans think William may have had more of a bond with his newborn son Randall then previously revealed, or else he possibly met his grandchildren Tess and Annie (Eris Baker, Faithe Herman) when they were babies.

The third season of This Is Us premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 9/8c on NBC.