His ultimate fate. This Is Us finally revealed Miguel’s history in the Tuesday, May 3, episode, and actor Jon Huertas exclusively told Us Weekly that “one of the most beautiful” scenes he’s ever filmed made the final cut. Plus, he teased what his ending means for Rebecca’s story.
“[It was] a long time coming, obviously, but yeah, I feel really proud of it,” Huertas, 52, told Us, adding that some of his own experiences inspired Miguel’s big episode.
“Dan [Fogelman, showrunner] asked me at the very beginning when they were breaking the script, breaking the story and figuring it out, he said, ‘Hey, can you come into the writer’s room and talk to everyone?’ I did and I definitely talked about a lot of the stuff that I dealt with growing up, and we tried to infuse as much of that into Miguel as we could,” Huertas recalled.
The personal episode showed Miguel immigrating with his family from Puerto Rico to the United States and using the name Mike Rivers on a resume to score a job.
The New York native added, “I know that I’ve had a hand in kind of creating who Miguel is over the years. We started out [and] the character was named Mike. He was just kind of a general best friend to Jack. And so, when … we switched [the name] to Miguel, we infused a lot of who I was — ethnically, personality-wise — into the character. So it’s nice to be able to continue that all the way to this episode.”
In addition to showing his childhood, Tuesday’s This Is Us also followed Miguel’s romance with Rebecca (Mandy Moore), starting with how they reconnected over Facebook and ending with his death. The pair lost touch for several years after Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) died and Miguel moved across the country to be closer to his children.
“As a fan of Miguel and Rebecca, I wish their story could have started sooner,” Huertas admitted. “I wish that they were both ready sooner, but I think it makes sense. I think that Miguel had to go find himself and try to figure out what was really going on in his heart and in his mind and try to fix things with his son and figure out his career.”
He added that Rebecca needed the space too. Miguel left Pittsburgh about a year after Jack’s death, and diving into a relationship at that point wouldn’t have been the same. “I think he needed to do that before he was actually ready for Rebecca — and I think Rebecca had to do the same thing,” the Castle alum explained. “She had to separate herself from kind of her past love, which is Jack in order to find new love. … I think [Miguel] reminded her of Jack a little bit or of her and Jack’s life together. So I think there needed to be that distance to see if the thing with Miguel was real.”
In between flashbacks to the beginnings of their friendship and their later romance in episode 15 of season 6, This Is Us showed their future. As Rebecca’s Alzheimer’s progresses, Miguel becomes her primary caregiver, even dismissing the hired nurse in favor of helping his wife himself. However, as Miguel ages and suffers his own heart-related health problems, Kate (Chrissy Metz), Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) step in to tell Miguel that he must accept help.
“It’s really daunting for someone to have to suddenly be the caregiver for an adult,” Huertas told Us. “It takes a lot of their energy to support another human being and to forget about themselves. I think the people around them need to — which the Big Three have done for Miguel — they’ve really stepped up later in life. We have that great scene where the Big Three asks Miguel to please let them take care of him now. And I think that was just one of the most beautiful moments to film that I’ve ever been a part of. Looking into all three of their eyes as an actor was just — I felt like they were asking me, Jon, if they could take care of me and it was real. And I think that that should happen way more often in families.”
Miguel’s passing will be “tough” for the Pearsons, the actor hinted ahead of the series finale. “It’s gonna be hard. And as we’ve seen it in a lot of stories that once two people who are older … once that life partner is taken away, there’s usually a pretty rapid decline. So we might see something like that with Rebecca moving forward.”
Though Miguel is dead, This Is Us fans know that doesn’t necessarily mean that Huertas has taken his final bow. “A lot of people have died on our show, and we’ve seen them come back in. We have those devices in play to make that a possibility,” he teased. “So never say never.”
The final season of This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
Reporting by Christina Garibaldi