‘This Is Us’: Sterling K Brown on Why Randall and Kevin Are Estranged in That Flash-Forward

TCA 2020: NBC star tells TheWrap “it becomes even more intense when we come back from the fall break”

Sterling K. Brown in 'This Is Us'
2019 NBCUniversal Media, LLC

“This Is Us” Season 4 returns from winter hiatus next week with its long-awaited midseason premiere. But since we know it’s gonna be tough to make it even that much longer to get an update on what’s going on with the Pearson family, TheWrap asked star Sterling K. Brown to give us a few hints — including an answer as to why Kevin (Justin Hartley) and Randall (Brown) are estranged in that flash-forward to the Big 3’s 40th birthday, which we saw at the very end of last year’s midseason finale.

“The tension between Kevin and Randall, it’s a relationship where they love each other deeply, but you see throughout history, like, they come together and they come apart, together, apart, together, apart,” Brown told TheWrap during the Television Critics Association press tour Saturday. “And we know that when we get to the distant future, we are at Kevin’s house, right? So we know that they ultimately come back together. And I know that the way in which they deal with their mother’s illness is part of the reason why there is friction. And that’s all I can say about that.”

In case you don’t remember, since Season 4’s midseason finale aired in November, on Rebecca (Mandy Moore) finally admitting to Randall on Thanksgiving that her memory problems have become severe enough that she needs to see a doctor. However, she asked him to keep this a secret from his siblings, Kevin and Kate (Chrissy Metz). Obviously, that’s easier said by Rebecca than done by Randall.

“It’s tense for Randall. It’s a big burden to shoulder by himself,” Brown told TheWrap. “I think one of the benefits of siblings is you can kind of talk through these things. Having siblings, having older parents and recognizing there is a lot to deal with as your parents get older, being able to share that with my brother and sister has been a big thing. So for Randall, who has a brother and sister and his mother has asked him specifically to keep it to himself, that’s hard. And it becomes even more intense when we come back from the fall break.”

While Randall isn’t present at the Big 3’s birthday party in the not-so-distant future — with Kate noting he and Kevin aren’t speaking — Rebecca (and her increasingly failing memory) are, along with Miguel (Jon Huertas), Kate and Kevin’s fiancee, who is pregnant and not actually shown on screen. (Yeah, we have no idea who that woman is or when she enters Kevin’s life.

Readers can see what Dan Fogelman told reporters Saturday about the upcoming episodes here.

“This Is Us” Season 4 returns with new episodes Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 9/8c on NBC.