For fans of the show, the over four-minute fight at the end of the season saw TV's strongest couple splinter and broke millions of viewers hearts. After Jack (Ventimiglia) goes to tell Rebecca (Mandy Moore) he supports her going on tour but instead ends up in a drunken fight with her bandmate, the pair returns to their home to have a verbal fight that puts their entire marriage in jeopardy. Ventimiglia told the audience at the ATX festival in Austin on Friday that the scene is not only his proudest of the show, but over his entire career.
"To be really honest, one of the best scenes, one of the best moments, one of the highlights of my 22 years of my career as an actor was working on the last episode with Ken [Olin, executive producer]," he said. "That big argument that Mandy and I had in the very end — that had to be one of the most satisfying things on set."
It was also one of the most complicated shots for the show to nail because it was mostly one long shot. Executive producer Ken Olin explained at the same panel how the crew prepared for the scene that ended up becoming the centerpiece of the show's climactic finale.
"Dan Fogelman [creator] wanted to do a scene without edits. His feeling was to catch the essence of a fight, especially a fight between two people that love each other. He wanted that with no edits," Olin said. "Mandy and Milo, you have two actors who come to work prepared to work and can sustain their performance for that amount of time... They were both ready. They rehearsed it the day before so the cinematographer could stage how to film it."
Ventimiglia and Moore did several takes of the epic takedown, which included some improvisation that let out some of their inner demons. According to Olin, some of the takes were X-rated and could never make it to air. For Ventimiglia, he got to see a completely different side of his TV wife.
"Mandy Moore is the nicest person on the planet but she was able to say things to me that she's never said to anybody," he joked.
The curse words and ugliness aside, the scene stands out because it's a long shot that doesn't feature actual physical violence or explosions. It is about two characters being their raw, real selves and there is nowhere for them to hide from the material they are offering each other. That's what really stands out to the show's creator Dan Fogelman.
"I know that Dan Fogelman was the proudest of that scene out of everything we did this season," Olin said. "One of the reasons that he was so proud of that it was only about the writing and only about the acting."
This Is Us returns Tuesdays this fall on NBC.