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Mandy Moore Opens Up About Directing a This Is Us Episode: 'It's Mind-Blowing'

The cast is singing her praises.

By McKenzie Jean-Philippe

Throughout the final season of This Is Us, showrunner Dan Fogelman has given the longtime cast the chance to shine both in front of and behind the camera. Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth) co-wrote Episode 6's "Little Island Girl: Part 2," while Milo Ventimiglia (Jack) directed Justin Hartley (Kevin) in Episode 8's "The Guitar Man."  The latest to take the reins? Our very own Rebecca Pearson, a.k.a. Mandy Moore.

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Moore made her directorial debut with Episode 9's "The Hill." It's the second part of the drama's Big Three trilogy. This time, the focus was on Kate (Chrissy Metz) and the much-anticipated look into the breakdown of her and Toby's (Chris Sullivan) marriage. 

"I love directing this cast," Moore said. "I feel like I was just given the keys to the castle. I know how extraordinary and how talented they are, but holy cow. There's something so different about sitting behind the monitor, not being in a scene with them, and not being present and sort of looking at their eyeballs but watching them do the work that is just mind-blowing."

Many of Moore's castmates shared special messages praising her directorial debut.

"The time has come to see what your work looks like," said Jon Huertas (Miguel), who's directed two episodes of the show himself. "Good luck. If it's anything like it felt, wow. Congratulations, it was an honor to be directed by you."

Ventimiglia added, "I just wanna say my TV wife, my scene partner, my dear, dear friend, Mandy Moore...She's a powerhouse, she knows exactly what she wants. She inspires us and leads us in those moments that we need it in front of the camera. And she is a wonderful, wonderful director."

As for the stars of the episode? Metz said, "Mandy Moore, it was such an amazing experience working with you. Not only because we speak the shorthand of actor but because you are so thoughtful and so prepared and so wonderful and so kind." 

Sullivan added, "I think some of the best times I have had on this show, period, were getting to work with [Moore] and Chrissy in San Francisco. We has a real blast, and I was having so much fun, and it was the first time I realized the show was almost over. And it was a great way to go out to get to work with each other in this way."

Watson and Sterling K. Brown (Randall) got in on the love-fest, too, with Moore thanking them all with a touching comment.

"And I’m in tears," she wrote. "I feel like I just watched my funeral or something lol. Love you @jonhuertas@miloanthonyventimiglia@chrissymetz@sullivangrams@sterlingkbrown, and @susankelechiwatson. Thanks for all the kind words!!!"

Next Tuesday (March 29) will mark Hartley's second directing gig on the show (the first was during Season 4) with Randall's Big Three trilogy episode. This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. Catch up now on NBC.com.