How ‘This Is Us’ star Jon Huertas, director Zetna Fuentes and writer Jonny Gomez teamed up to share Miguel’s truths – Deadline

SPOILER ALERT: The following story reveals key plot points from tonight’s episode of NBC’s This Is Us.

NBC fans for six seasons This is us have felt a wide range of emotions towards Miguel’s character – mostly contempt – which they had to reconcile in tonight’s episode of the series, aptly titled “Miguel”. The episode tips his hat to a humble and good man, an Afro Latino caught between two worlds who never felt like a perfect fit for everything, until he fell in love with a woman named Rebecca (Mandy Moore).

Sterling K. Brown as Randall, Jon Huertas as Miguel
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The finished product is a collaboration between Huertas, staff writer Jonny Gomez, director Zetna Fuentes, multiple Latino actors and many more Latinos behind the scenes.

“It was great to work on this episode,” Huertas told Deadline. “The script was absolutely amazing and we have the perfect director to blow this out of the park. When I first saw it, I was audibly shocked. These feelings built up inside me, I held them in. I remember Sterling K. Brown being on one side of the room at one point and I was trying to hold back my emotions, but suddenly this noise came out that I couldn’t control. Once that happened, I think Sterling felt like he had permission too and he made a similar noise. We sounded like two whales communicating with each other. When Mandy Moore joined, I think that was then… Rosy Cordero Than [Fogelman] had to stop for a break. It’s nice that we were able to eliminate Miguel in this way.”

The episode jumps across several timelines, from Miguel as a young boy in Puerto Rico with his parents before moving to Pittsburgh for better job opportunities, to his love story with his best friend’s girl, to his eventual and heartbreaking death in the final. beats of the episode.

Jon Huertas

“Writing this episode was a tremendous amount of pressure,” said Gomez, who joined the show as a writing assistant in Season 3, before joining the staff this year. “I always knew there was going to be a Miguel themed episode and I wanted to be the one to write it. I’ve been manifesting this for three years and it’s even more special than I could have imagined because this is a real collaboration among Latinos.”

Huertas adds: “And the fact that we’re doing this on the #1 show on TV that everyone loves so much made it all the more special. But having Jonny and Zetna as my collaborators was the icing on the cake. They looked me in the eye that first day and said, “We’ve got you.” So I was not afraid of anything.”

Fuentes laughs when she recalls running into Huertas one day who excitedly “took her up,” as he remembers it, to convince her to direct the episode “Miguel.” Their latest collaboration marks Fuentes’ second time directing on This is usher first was in season 2.

“I remember reading that script and it was all,” she says. “It really distilled this beautiful story of this one man’s journey, but it also meant everything to me because of the way it represents the diaspora community. It was so specific and so beautifully written, but it also exploded in its meaning for my family and our families. I remember telling my husband what a dream it was. So as a director, I was really just taking the cues and directions from the page. It really unfolded like this beautiful story.”

It was important to Huertas that the many layers that made Miguel the man he was authentic. As an Afro Latino whose family is from Puerto Rico, Huertas and his character shared many life experiences.

“I have this history with my hair and growing up and straightening it to not get bullied, which I did. I gave up my identity to fit in and to avoid conflict. So we used that in the beginning of the show, like Miguel did to climb the ladder with Lundy and try to assimilate into his life,” he reveals. “We wanted to bring that back and fully realize that in this episode.”

Fuentes explains that the “casting of actors who represented the colors of Latinidad was also crucial to telling this story.” Like the overlapping dialogue of English and Spanish spoken by immigrant families in the US from Latin America.

Regarding Miguel and Rebecca’s love story, Gomez revealed that there was already some history between the two that he incorporated into his script.

“We first meet Miguel as Rebecca’s husband in episode 2 of the series and all the time in between we don’t know what happened. But for us writers, they have been married for 10 or 15 years by the time we meet them and they feel comfortable in their marriage at this point. But what I wanted to see is when they first realize it, and we started having those moments earlier this season,” Gomez said. “It was like, oh God, they have so much chemistry and it’s right there, but neither of them know it. Or if they know, they don’t admit it to themselves because they weren’t ready.”

Jon Huertas as Miguel, Mandy Moore as Rebecca

He continues: “Miguel had to travel first. I think Miguel knew he didn’t feel he deserved that kind of love or that kind of relationship yet, when so much of his life was unfinished. He had to make an honest effort with his children. He had to make an honest effort with his family. He had to put those pieces back in place so he could feel whole.”

While Huertas won’t reveal whether or not Miguel will appear in the series’ final episodes, he did reveal what it was like to say goodbye to the character.

“Saying goodbye to Miguel was bittersweet, but this episode was the perfect love letter to him,” he says. “Because it was such a collaborative episode, I feel like I had people next to me who helped me say goodbye to the character in the right way. It just seemed so perfect that it became less sad. This is us, people are dying all the time but we run into them again. As an actor, I’m the perfect time traveler on the show, so you never know if he’ll come back to surprise you.”

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