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Thursday, June 4 Entertainment

Mandy Moore on her new album and ‘This Is Us’

With the season finale of “This Is Us” just days away, fans are anxious to see what secrets will be revealed about Rebecca Pearson and her feisty family. Mandy Moore, who stars as Rebecca, spoke about the NBC series and her new album and upcoming tour, in a recent phone chat.

Unfortunately she didn’t drop any bombshells about the Emmy-winning drama’s finale, which airs Tuesday, March 24. “I still haven’t gotten that script,” she said. “None of us knows what happens, we don’t know how it wraps up.”

Also up in the air are her spring tour dates — all sidelined by coronavirus concerns — and Moore’s fans aren’t the only ones hoping they’ll soon be rescheduled. Moore, herself, told us she’s very much looking forward to sharing her music, and that her shows will include some time to chat about her experiences as Rebecca on “This Is Us.”

The emotional series has been a hit with viewers since its 2016 debut, and it seems Moore has much in common with her character. Aside from their shared love of music, the two are both warm and down-to-earth, not to mention determined, especially when it comes to what matters.

“I have missed music since I finished the last record,” says Moore, whose new album, her first in 11 years, came out this month. “I’ve been plotting, figuring out ways to get back to it.”

Her national tour was to begin March 20 after filming wrapped for “This Is Us,” but several concerts, including a March 28 gig at The Ridgefield Playhouse, are among the events that were postponed. Moore’s website shows new dates have yet to be set, but there’s still plenty to share about her life and music.

The singer-songwriter/actor had just left the set of “This Is Us” when she got on the phone to talk about her new album, “Silver Landings,” and her work on the era-hopping TV series that tells the story of a unique set of triplets and their parents. Moore, 35, plays Rebecca as a young wanna-be singer, as a married mother and as a grandmother.

More Information

If you have tickets for The Ridgefield Playhouse show, the venue will contact you with the new date, or you may exchange them for an upcoming show. The Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 E. Ridge. 203-438-5795, www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org

Before diving into the interview, we mentioned her memorable performance in the 2002 movie, “A Walk to Remember,” which features her music. We also expressed appreciation for the ways in which her “This Is Us” role sparks intergenerational conversations among viewers’ family members — bringing everyone closer together.

“That’s so nice of you!” she said. “Oh my gosh! You made my whole day. Thank you!”

Moore was driving home as we spoke. When asked if she was doing anything special after work, she said, “I’m gonna go sing tonight with a friend — a kind of hootenanny thing they do in LA once a month. My husband and my buddy Mike (will be with me). I co-wrote this whole record with both of them, so I guess yeah, that’s pretty special — a last minute singing gig.”

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“Silver Landings” was produced by longtime collaborator Mike Viola, and features Moore’s husband, Taylor Goldsmith, of the folk rock band Dawes, as well as Jason Boesel. Listening to its introspective songs, we got the feeling Moore was catching up with herself — catching up on her life and feeling good about it.

“Yeah, I haven’t made an album in a decade and I feel there was a lot of sort of baggage I had to drop in terms of my relationship to music and ... I had to sort of find my way back to it,” she said. “It didn’t happen as quickly or succinctly as I thought it would, but I’m a big believer in everything happening for a reason. I feel like this record has a lot of notes of self-reflection and a bit of self-criticism, but healthy self-criticism.

“I wanted this record to be about forward momentum. I wanted it to feel like getting in a car and just driving and not looking back, no regrets. Just being excited about putting one foot in front of the other and (realizing) all the messy bits of the human condition all go into our narrative and our story, and it’s important to acknowledge all of that because all those colors sort of make up an interesting life; that’s what I wanted to draw upon...”

Moore was 15 when she had her first pop hit with a song called “Candy,” back in 1999. Movies and records followed. She says this album, her seventh, is about seeking a place to feel grounded. “Silver Landings” was the last tune written for it.

“It really tied everything all together — all the different feelings and emotions and fits and starts that it took to help this album come to fruition over the last decade. Even though this record was written over the last year, a lot led up to it... I feel like ‘Silver Landings’ is an all-encompassing term of groundedness... like touching earth, touching the ground — something actualized. Because again, I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason and not begrudging the time it takes to get to where you’re going...”

“Save a Little for Yourself” is another personal tune. When asked what it means to her, Moore laughed, and said the title is a mantra about something she’s gotten better with over the last few years, but still needs to work on.

“I think that at my core, I am someone who, to my own detriment, is probably better at taking care of those around me than sort of attending to my own needs, and that’s definitely cost me in certain situations. I’ve come to learn in therapy and over time that when things sort of go off track, I need to realize that I’m no good to anybody else if I am not ... looking at myself first and foremost, and loving myself first and foremost... I feel that’s hopefully a relatable song for a lot of people who have fallen victim to that line of thinking... of just taking care of everyone else before yourself. So we’ll see if it’s helpful in that sense.”

Although Moore is known best for her “This Is Us” role, she’s played many others. When Jimmy Fallon once teased her about always being the one who tugs at people’s heartstrings and makes them cry, Moore laughed and said that certainly wasn’t the plan.

She’s portrayed different characters, even mean ones such as spoiled cheerleader Lana Thomas in “The Princess Diaries.” Moore said both types of roles are fun, but you can’t really compare them because “it’s not apples to apples.” Playing someone like Lana is “exercising a different muscle.”

However, if she had to choose just one, she’d “go with Rebecca, for sure,” especially considering the longevity of a TV series. “Getting to play a character who is so once-in-a-lifetime like Rebecca, who I am playing from 15 to 85, and at every juncture of life in-between, is a treat and a gift that stretches a totally different set of muscles.”

Did she consider it a gift the first time makeup artists aged her character’s look? Or did it freak her out?

“It didn’t freak me out. I love it. I’m not one of those people who’s scared to age,” she said. “I have my first few gray hairs ... I’m really into it. Being aged for the first time I was like, “OK, girlfriend looks good for 65, so if I can figure out whatever her secrets are, clearly she’s well moisturized and drinks lots of water, she’s very hydrated... If I can figure out what her secrets are to look this good at 65, I will be very happy.”

The aging process takes three and one-half hours. “At this point I am very used to it,” she said, adding she and the makeup artists “are all best friends and all very close because we spend so much time together.” She especially loves that playing Rebecca at so many ages means she gets “to work with every single group of actors, and no one else on the show gets to do that. I love it so much, even if I have to spend more time at work.”

That “time at work” is part of what inspired her return to music. “I can’t discount ‘This Is Us’ and getting to sing on the show, and having music be a part of my character’s backstory. And I can’t discount living with a musician and now being married to one ... and watching him write all the time and watching him play and tour and feeling a little bit of jealousy — like I want to do that, I miss that, I know how to do that... so it’s a combination of things...”

Of course Moore had to complete her “This Is Us” obligations before starting her tour. Our conversation took place on a Wednesday; Moore said she’d work Thursday and Friday to finish the second-to-last episode. Filming this season’s finale was to start the next Monday, but she hadn’t received the script yet. “I will have two days to get it and digest it before starting work on Monday.”

She finds it fascinating that everything moves so fast. “It’s such a quick turnaround. Sometimes we get a script and we’ll be shooting it two days later... It takes an emotional toll on you in every way — the material you’re performing, but also, like, oh my gosh, I’m so stressed out because I want to do the best job possible and honor the material, and I’ve got to step it up with all of these incredible actors. It’s a lot for sure. Being on tour will truly be a break.”

When she makes it back to The Ridgefield Playhouse, Moore said audiences can expect “an elegant and elevating evening of music” with “an air of intimacy, as well. “I want to have a full-on rock concert in certain respects — my husband and Mike Viola and pretty much all of Dawes, my husband’s band, are coming on the road and are exceptional, profoundly talented musicians, so it’s gonna be a very elevated show in that sense... But I also want to be able to tell my story.”

Moore said she wants to “sit and talk to the audience and sing some songs I have sung on the show for instance, and be able to talk about that experience, because I understand perhaps there may be people in the audience who don’t know any of my music from the past, and maybe only know me from ‘This Is Us,’ and I want to honor that. That is a huge part of my life and my career, and why I am able to make a record and have people even remotely interested...

“But I also want to pay homage to — this is my 20th year in the industry — and I want to look back at songs from earlier in my career. I know plenty of people maybe want to hear those songs...” Moore said she may play them in a form that’s different from how they were conceived, because it makes sense to have them in line with the music she’s playing on tour.

Overall though, she said, “I want it to feel cohesive, but I also want to be able to bring the audience closer in at certain points in the show. So it will be new music and old music and stuff in-between, and (I want to) have people leave with a better sense of who I am as a person, not just as a musician.”

lkoonz@newstimes.com; Twitter @LindaTKoonz

Linda Tuccio-Koonz|Reporter

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