Emmy Award-winning actor Sterling K. Brown ("The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story") stopped by BUILD Series NYC to discuss his new show, "This Is Us," a refreshingly honest and provocative series that follows a unique ensemble. As their paths cross and their life stories intertwine in curious ways, we find that several of them share the same birthday and so much more than anyone would expect. From the writer and directors of "Crazy, Stupid, Love" comes a smart, modern dramedy that will challenge your everyday presumptions about the people you think you know.
1. The best part about playing Randall on "This Is Us?" His resilience.
"Somebody asked me a while ago 'Did [Creator Dan Fogelman] always want Randall to be black?' and I'm not sure. I actually never had that conversation with Fogelman but thankfully he did make him black. The thing I like about Randall is that there are are demons. There are circumstances in his life that he could allow to dictate a different outcome than the outcome that he is living right now. He didn't let anything become a crutch or reason for not excelling in his life. He chose to take his lemons and make some lemonade. And even though he is always curious and what not, he did not hold himself back from being the best he can be. Whether that's nature or nurture...or a combination of the two, it's really nice to see."
2. Does he call Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia "Mom and Dad" when the camera stops rolling?
"Sure. Yeah. If I don't call them Mandy and Milo. But yea. 'Hey Mom, Hey Dad.' We'll greet each other in the makeup room, 'Hey Son.' Totally."
3. "This Is Us" toyed with the idea of hiring a different actor to play Rebecca (Moore) in the 2016 timeline.
"This Is Us" switches between two timelines: 1980 and 2016. Brown detailed the moment he knew Moore would work as Rebecca in both eras, explaining, "I remember the first time they put Mandy in the 2016 makeup and she stepped on set and I couldn't take my eyes--I was like 'wow, this is gonna work!' For a while, they toyed with the idea of hiring a different actor to play her in 2016, but, they did the makeup test first and rejiggered it a few different times and ultimately came up with something they liked. When she came on set she was so, just, 2016 Rebecca."
4. The story behind Kate's weight may not be much of a story.
"I think it's just what happened. Different people have different body types. We all have different sort of relationships to food. I think Kate had her relationship to food and a body type that didn't allow her to burn off things in the same way. I think it's that simple for Kate."
5. Life is better with an Emmy Award.
While Brown still had to show up to work the next day ("Wasn't 6am, I had to be at work at 12. They gave me a few hours."), winning the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie is not devoid of professional perks.
"[My career] has changed in terms of opportunities that come up and enthusiasm of people who want to work with me. I think for the first 13 somewhat years of my career, it was about constant proving yourself anew, from scratch, to people. I was like 'Hey! Here ya go' and they're like 'Thank you.' Now, there's the benefit of the doubt. There's an assumption that this guy knows what he's doing. 'Let's see what Sterling Brown's take is on it.' Rather than 'Who's this guy again?' It has changed things and the level of stories that come my way at an earlier time. I've moved up on the depth chart."
Watch Sterling K. Brown's full BUILD interview below. "This Is Us" airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on NBC.