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Ron Cephas Jones Talks Why William Was Chosen to Lead Rebecca to the Afterlife

The actor has some thoughts for fans who are curious.

By Christopher Rosa

Ron Cephas Jones, who played Randall's biological father, William, on This Is Us, passed away on August 19, 2023. He leaves behind a legacy of excellent screen work, including his 45 episodes of This Is Us, for which he won two Emmys. In honor of him, NBC Insider is revisiting some of William's most poignant moments on the show. His character is beloved by fans and will forever be cherished. 

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Now that our tears have dried from This Is Us ending, we can look back and properly analyze everything that happened. Yes, all the major loose ends have been tied up, but we still have a few lingering questions. In the penultimate episode, for example, William (Ron Cephas Jones) was tapped to be the person who helped Rebecca (Mandy Moore) reach the afterlife. (Rebecca's journey to death was visualized by a moving train, with the caboose representing the end. And William was the conductor who took her through each car on the train, essentially revisiting and reflecting on her life in the process.)

But why was William picked for this job? Jones opened up to Today about the episode and said, “I stayed in my own head and tried not to get into (show creator Dan Fogelman’s) head about why. 'Why William?' was a decision that people have to think about, and that’s the beauty of it. There’s no right or wrong." 

It looks like it's up to fans to decide for themselves. Of course, William played an important role throughout This Is Us. He was Randall's biological father who adult Randall sought out after decades of wondering about his past. The big secret, though, was that Rebecca knew who William was and kept his identity from Randall. This caused massive issues between mother and son when it was brought to light. 

“If you go all the way back and go through it again, you’ll find something that will connect those characters when you never saw those characters in a scene. Go back and watch it again because it’ll be a whole other series. I’m telling you— it’s got so many layers. You’ll find things and see things,” Jones tells Today about This Is Us. “That’s great writing.”

Originally published Jun 7, 2022.

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