The Genius This Is Us Transformation Secrets We've Been Waiting For

The mid-season fall finale of This Is Us left us — again — with one crucial question we still need answered: How the hell did Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) die? That, and how can a show with more flashback scenes than Orange Is the New Black make each character look so believable? Seriously, the resemblance between the Pearson children — Randall, Kate, and Kevin — and their adult counterparts is eerie.

It's rare for a TV show to hire three actors to play the same character through their childhood, teendom, and adult years, but This Is Us is in a league of its own. Each episode rolls back decades to check in on the three siblings (aka "The Big Three") during significant moments of impact that shed light on how they ended up where they are in present-day — and the genius is that the flashbacks always feel completely seamless.

How? The show's makeup department head, Zoe Hay, recently unveiled all her behind-the-scenes notes on Instagram, explaining every last transformation trick you never thought you needed to know.

Randall Pearson

To make Niles Fitch (the actor who plays Randall at age 17) and Sterling K. Brown (Randall at present day) appear to be the same person, Hay matches the skin tone of Fitch to Brown's deeper complexion with face and body makeup in darker shades.

You might've also noticed that the some of the more recent episodes show Randall around 28 years old (right before the birth of his first child). To make Sterling K. Brown appear 10 years younger, the makeup team played with light reflection and highlights on his face. "@luis_garcia_lixtli did a beautiful job with old school highlight and shadow to de age[sic] Sterling," Hay wrote on Instagram. "Given that we shoot in HD this is an extra challenge and requires a subtle hand."

Since 37-year-old Randall rocks a beard, Hay removed his facial hair to make him appear even younger. But since the next shoot required Randall to fast-forward ten years — back to his signature goatee — Hay replaced his missing hair with a faux mustache and beard.
Kevin Pearson

Drama has surrounded Kevin (played as an adult by Justin Hartley) in season two, as he battles his alcohol and drug addiction in private. Another secret from his hair and makeup trailer? Kevin's most recognizable feature is drawn on the two younger actors week after week. To mimic the birthmark on Hartley's face, Hay adds an undereye mole to Parker Bates and Logan Shroyer. Even more, both Bates and Shroyer rock colored contacts to hide their baby blues and match Hartley's brown eyes.
Kate Pearson

It might not be a set secret, but one thing that sets apart young Kate from her present-day self is the tiny glimpse we get into her introduction to makeup. By the time Kate hits her high school years, she's knee-deep in some rad '90s beauty trends, like smoked-out liner and vampy dark nail polish. No better way to express teenage angst, right?

And we also learned that since the actress who plays 10-year-old Kate (Mackenzie Hancsicsak) has a natural olive undertone to her complexion, she is covered in full face and body makeup to more closely match present day Kate's cooler skin tone (Chrissy Metz).
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