It’s impossible not to fall in love with Randall on the hit NBC show, “This is Us.”
Driven, intelligent, strong and dedicated to his family, he’s the kind of guy most men aspire to be and most women long for as their significant other.
“He is very successful in his job, probably even more so than myself,” says Sterling K. Brown, the 40-year-old actor who plays Randall on the multigenerational dramedy. The winter finale for the critical darling —which explores the complex relationships of a nontraditional family — airs today and Brown's character, a finance-guy-meets-family-man, is at the center of a pretty explosive familial rift.
In real life, the Emmy winning actor for his role in "The People v. OJ Simpson" has a beautiful family set up (his wife actress Ryan Michelle Bath stars on this show as well). We talk to Brown about how he relates to Randall, but like us, has no idea how to explain his day job.
What were your initial thoughts on 'This is Us?'
When I first read the pilot, I said to myself: "This is the best television pilot I have ever had the chance to read in 15 years." It was so good just on the page. I laughed out loud, I cried and the twist at the end — my jaw was on the ground. I was still shooting “The People” at the time and I remember thinking, "How cool would it be if I went from this show to that show?" And it happened, and it’s been really awesome.
Do you relate to Randall at all?
Absolutely. Randall has a beautiful family — a beautiful wife and two beautiful girls. I have a beautiful wife and two beautiful boys. He has been with his wife for a long time, and my wife and I just celebrated our ten year anniversary. The fact that I lost my father when I was 10-years-old, and that Randall never knew his biological father — there is a very similar hole. So his choice to connect with him is a choice that makes sense — to have someone to ask for advice and to know where you come from. I totally understand what that is.
How do you think losing a parent early on affects a person?
I can speak personally. I would look at other people's dads and sort of claim them as surrogates. Not intentionally, but I would be like, "Oh this guy has a dad that’s cool. I will spend some time with them." And, I think those dads knew I didn't have a dad and so they made extra efforts to make themselves available to me. You find yourself, unconsciously and consciously trying to fill whatever it is missing in your life.
Randall has a really random career in the show where he trades weather derivatives. Is that a thing in real life? Hedging against weather patterns?
Dan Fogelman, our creator, went to the University of Pennsylvania and one of his very good friends went to Wharton and he does what Randall does. He's like every time my friend tries to describe what he does for a living, I'm like, "Dude I have no clue what you're talking about, but I gotta use it for my show.”
That’s hilarious. On the topic of career, have you ever pursued something other than acting?
I started off as an economics major. When I went to school at Stanford University, I had an internship at the Federal Reserves Bank for a couple summers and I thought that's what I was going to do. I had a real knowledge for math as a kid so I thought that something mathematical was going to be in my future. When I found acting and being on stage, I knew that I enjoyed it, but I didn't think it was something that people did because it wasn't practical. I felt alive when I was acting and changed my major from economics to drama, not knowing that anything would come from it. [I learned] it was more important to do that then something that you felt was the practical thing to do.
Your wife plays Yvette on the show. What’s it like working with her?
My wife is dope. We don’t have any scenes because she's a friend of Rebecca's in the past, and I'm only in the future, but there are times when she's leaving and I'm showing up. I bring our two children with me to give to her so she can take them back home. We sort of play switch and go about our business. At the end of the day we get to talk about the show and it’s nice. We're both excited and really proud with what we're putting out there.
Any advice for aspiring actors out there?
I would say that show business is a very self-selecting process. You can be in it as long as you want to be in it, as long as you're accustomed to hearing, "No." Even if you are successful you hear "no" the majority of the time. And, you'll know at a certain point if this is for you or not for you. If it's for you, great. And if it's not for you, that's okay too. You can’t beat yourself up and say that you failed because there are so many things that you can learn from acting that can be attributed to other walks of life.
The winter finale of “This is Us” airs on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 9 p.m. EST.