This Is Us Star Hannah Zeile Reveals the Best BTS Secrets from Set

"I know what’s coming, and I still cry!"

this is us season 3: actress hannah zeile standing in front of a wooden wall in a green jacket with her hand on her face

(Photo: Bobby Quillard)

Hannah Zeile has gotten really good at deflecting questions about what’s coming on her hit show, This Is Us. The multigenerational drama is full of dramatic twists and turns that always leave fans guessing, but Zeile—who plays the teenage Kate Pearson—is adamant that her lips are sealed.

“[During] Season 1, it was, ‘How does Jack die?!’ Then everyone found out, so it became ‘What can you tell me about Season 3?’ And I can’t say anything!”

But even though she knows what’s coming, the 20-year-old says that, like us, she still gets emotional when she sees her scenes play out on screen.

“I cry when I receive the scripts, I cry when I watch the show,” Zeile says. “[Seeing] my cast mates bring their own authenticity to the screen, I definitely get emotional.”

In Zeile’s opinion, the cast’s ability to tap into those authentic emotions is one of the reasons This Is Us is so successful. The show has dominated ratings since it premiered in September 2016, and the ensemble cast—which is is particularly large since each Pearson sibling is played by three different actors—has won all kinds of awards.

Zeile splits her role with Mackenzie Hancsicsak (a.k.a. young Kate) and Chrissy Metz (a.k.a. adult Kate). And just like in the show, she and her “teen” cast mates are super tight in real life. “Niles [Finch a.k.a. teen Randall] and I actually carpool [to set] because we live by each other,” Zeile says.

As Season 3 approaches—This Is Us finally returns to NBC on Sept. 25 (!!!)—Kate’s future remains a mystery. In the Season 2 finale, adult Kate was riding the high of her marriage to Toby (played by Chris Sullivan) but a flash-forward reveals that Toby’s health, and their relationship, may take a turn.

In a not-so-subtle effort to get some dirt out of Zeile, we created a game called “Which Pearson.” Herewith, all the deets about your fave Pearson family members and what they’re like IRL.

Which Pearson… is most likely to forget their lines?

“Niles. This wasn’t necessarily forgetting, but he [once] had a line where he was supposed to say to Jack [played by Milo Ventimiglia], ‘That’s so cheesy,’ and then Jack says back, ‘Well, if the cheese fits.’ But every time he’d [say], ‘That’s so corny.’ So it wasn’t making sense, and every time [Milo] would [say], ‘Dude, it’s cheesy!’ Niles would say, ‘OK, I got it,’ and then [he’d say], ‘That’s so corny,’ and we’d all say, ‘Niles, man!’”

Which Pearson… is most likely to break character in a serious scene?

“Niles and Logan [Shroyer, who plays teen Kevin]. I think myself, too. If we find something funny, or if Niles looks at me a certain way, we all start laughing. It’s a triplet thing. Big three!”

Which Pearson… is most like their character?

“Milo is actually called Papa Bear on set. He goes out of his way to memorize the entire call sheet so he knows everybody’s names by the first day. He’s literally Jack Pearson, and just an all-around great man.”

Which Pearson… is the most dramatic in real life?

“Me! I’m a drama queen, what can I say? I guess I’m in the right profession.”

Which Pearson… gives the best advice?

“Milo and Mandy [Moore, who plays Rebecca Pearson]. They’ve just been in the industry a long time and they’re good human beings, so they have a lot to offer us.”

Which Pearson… has the messiest trailer?

“Niles. But what’s funny is that usually we’re all in my trailer, so all his trash ends up in my trailer!”

Which Pearson… is the first to hit up craft services on set?

“Niles. He has a craft food break all the time, and [he always chooses] candy.”

Which Pearson… is the biggest prankster?

“Niles and me! [We] like to pull jokes on Logan.”


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