Gracie Taylor is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Why Mandy Moore's new role has her feeling clucky

Actress Mandy Moore stars in NBC's new TV show This is Us. Photo / Getty
Actress Mandy Moore stars in NBC's new TV show This is Us. Photo / Getty

A bright and bubbly "hello!" rings down the line, as 90s sweetheart Mandy Moore comes on the line with a sweet-as-honey American accent.

You may remember her as the young popstar behind teen love anthems like Candy and I Wanna Be With You.

As the years have passed, Moore has moved on from music, branching out into acting roles, starting with her debut in the 2001 comedy film Dr. Dolittle 2 and later The Princess Diaries and starred in A Walk to Remember. But Moore has struggled to shake her popstar roots - until now.

Speaking to the Herald from New York, Moore is in hot demand as her new series This Is Us (TVNZ2, Tuesday, 8.30pm) has become one of the most talked about news shows of the year.

The teaser trailer alone has had just under 75 million views on Facebook and YouTube and the series is getting rave reviews after its debut episode went to air.

Moore isn't surprised by the positive reaction.

"I think it's hopeful entertainment and people are able to find something in these storylines that they can relate to and escape from and I think that's why the trailer had such crazy success. It just really stands out on the TV landscape right now because people are hungry for this kind of entertainment. There's not really a lot out there that fills this square."

"It just feels inherently hopeful. There is so much cynicism out there, like we are living through the newest (US) election, you know everything is just so up in the air that to be able to have this kind of cathartic entertainment to escape into."

Written by the man behind 2011's hit comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love and also Tangled, the series follows the story of three triplets and their very different lives. Moore plays Rebecca - the triplet's mother, a role she has no experience of in real life.

Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us. Photo / NBC
Mandy Moore as Rebecca in This Is Us. Photo / NBC

"I learnt that with children, you have to wear the pants, you do not have to ask the children for permission to do anything because I found myself saying please and thank you and asking permission from them to do things.

"I don't have children myself and I don't have a ton of experience around children so was like okay I really need to take a little bit more authority. I have learned that I feel like there is definitely a biological urge that I feel now having worked with babies and children and it's pretty undeniable. I have got all of the feels."

Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack in the new NBC TV show This Is Us. Photo / NBC
Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack in the new NBC TV show This Is Us. Photo / NBC

Speaking of babies, Moore says she works with a range of different age groups on the set of This Is Us as the series moves between different eras, including the 80s, 90s and today.

"We are working mainly with 8 year olds because our storyline takes place in 1988 and it jumps around. Like the second episode is in 1988, the fourth episode is 1988, and so is the sixth episode."

"But then we work with babies then we have another episode when the kids are 13. So we are kind of jumping around in time a quite a bit, which is super fun."

(L-R) Actors Chris Sullivan, Susan Kelechi Watson, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, and Chrissy Metz attend NBC's Live screening of This is Us with the cast. Photo / Getty
(L-R) Actors Chris Sullivan, Susan Kelechi Watson, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Hartley, and Chrissy Metz attend NBC's Live screening of This is Us with the cast. Photo / Getty

Moore's rise to pop stardom came at the tender age of 15, but she says she managed to stay out of the public eye during her most vulnerable years and didn't get caught in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

Mandy Moore with a cut-out of herself. Photo / Getty
Mandy Moore with a cut-out of herself. Photo / Getty

"I don't think that I was in the upper echelon of female popstars so I think that benefited me because it allowed me to kind of disappear into characters a little bit more.

"People didn't have the same sort of expectations pressed upon me that maybe other people did. So I feel like it really worked to my advantage. I could do whatever I wanted to do and make music and tour and I still could live my life and didn't have to have body guards and my life wasn't written about.

"I could still be a kid and people were more forgiving and allowed it... I feel lucky in that sense."

Usher and Mandy Moore performing. Photo / Getty
Usher and Mandy Moore performing. Photo / Getty

Moore admits that even though her acting career has skyrocketed, she still pines to be musically involved again.

"I really do miss music. In some capacity I will definitely get back into music. But this part of my life I feel fulfilled and hopefully I will be doing this show for a long long time. I think that the schedule allows me to have some free time to start making music again.

"My character Rebecca (from This Is Us) is musical, you will see in future episodes. The director Dan, was like "I think you need to sing" and I said okay. My backstory is that I was a bar musician before I met Jack and before we got married and had kids and so music is kind of a 'through-line' into my story and perhaps in one of the kids stories as well."

• This Is Us screens on TVNZ2 from 8.30pm and is available on TVNZ on demand.

- NZ Herald

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