With season 3 of This Is Us less than a month away, fans are waiting with baited breath for glimpses into the hit NBC drama — which is exactly what they got Tuesday with a pensive portrait session courtesy of celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.
In the portrait, the entire grown-up Pearson family stands together in a forest, donning coordinated red and green outfits. Fans will know that it's not often the entire adult cast appears together, unless it's a promo or dream sequence, given Jack's early death.
Susan Kelechi Watson (Beth Pearson), Sterling K. Brown (Randall Pearson), Mandy Moore (Rebecca Pearson), Milo Ventimiglia (Jack Pearson), Chrissy Metz (Kate Pearson), Justin Hartley (Kevin Pearson) and Chris Sullivan (Toby Damon) are featured in the shot, which in the promotional version is accompanied by the words "Family is forever."
Fans will likely go through just as many tissues during season 3 as they did during the first two seasons once This Is Us returns on Sept. 25. Series creator Dan Fogelman and his co-showrunners have teased certain focal points of season 3, including Jack's time during the Vietnam War with his younger brother, Nicky, who died there.
"There is something very freeing about getting past Jack's death and getting to tell just a whole completely different kind of story," showrunner Elizabeth Berger told reporters last month during the Television Critics Association press tour. "It's sort of different than anything our writers have done in the first two years, so to be all of a sudden be immersed in the Vietnam War, we think it's going to be really special and really different."
Last week, Fogelman tweeted a video of Ventimiglia as Jack flying high in a helicopter in his military garb, holding a gun and leaning partway out of the chopper. It was fans' first new look at Jack before he knew Rebecca.
In a season 3 promo also released last week, fans were promised "tons of surprises" alongside footage from the upcoming season, including a glimpse of The Big Three's 38th birthday cake.
Along with Jack's mysterious past, fans will also learn more this season about how he and Rebecca met, something that is seen in the trailer as he glimpses his future wife singing at a bar. "I met the girl," he told his friend Miguel (Jon Huertas). "You met a girl?" Miguel asks, to which Jack responds with emphasis, "No. The girl."
Ventimiglia is keeping Jack's past under wraps until the episodes air.
"I really don't want to hint because I want people to be surprised," the actor told Entertainment Weekly, sharing that Fogelman had walked him through his character's story.
"What he laid out for me — I didn't see it coming. I really didn't see it coming," Ventimiglia recalled. "And I had a pretty good understanding of what it was going to be. As he was unfolding the story — and Isaac [Aptaker, the series' co-showunner] was there, and they were explaining everything — I went, 'Oh. Holy s—. Holy s—. Holy s—!' There is a lot to Jack's history that shapes who he ultimately becomes."
Season 3 of This Is Us premieres Tuesday, Sept. 25 on ABC.