Thirtysomething to This Is Us

“This Is Us’” Ken Olin sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Olin opens up about struggling with celebrity, shooting in real time during a pandemic, social stigma on “This Is Us,” and much more. Highlights below.

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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Ken Olin —

On first becoming a household name:
“I didn’t handle celebrity… I wasn’t very comfortable with it. It’s complicated. I remember reading something – I don’t remember who, maybe it was somebody talking about Brad Pitt, or talking about George Clooney or whatever, and talking about how good they are. How good they were at being celebrities – dealing with it. George Clooney I knew a tiny, tiny bit. I mean he was extraordinary at it, like how – you have to have some kind of fortitude, because it is so – there’s just no way you can really prepare for it, because it does change your life. I remember going to Chicago to visit my dad who lived downtown, and I was with my son, who was a little boy then you know. And I couldn’t – I was becoming agoraphobic, I just couldn’t like, deal with all the people. And at one point – you know if you stopped, then people that I think knew I was from Chicago – and Chicago’s a pretty provincial place – they would stop me and… my son is throwing out his arms going ‘you’re not supposed to talk to strangers!’ Like, I couldn’t assimilate it. I just – it made me feel that – I was becoming increasingly self-conscious. Rather than going ‘okay, I’m gonna embrace this,’ I had some weird thing going on in my head about ‘I have to be real, you have to be real, you have to be real,’ and who knows what that means…”

On “This Is Us” incorporating the COVID-19 pandemic:
“It was, I think, a decision that was made – it was totally made in reaction… I know that the writers, you know they had had a writers’ room, they had planned most of that season and, I think, it was a testament to Dan [Fogelman], and the talent of the room – all the writers. But, I mean they made that adjustment pretty much on the fly of going ‘we have to deal with this, we have to address this.’ And I thought what they did, probably the thing that is coolest, is that they were able to make Covid – it was an obstacle, they maintained certain stories and trajectories of character and, like in life, they made Covid an obstacle for those characters, and for those people getting what they wanted, or the directions they were going with their lives… The storyline, I think, not just the Covid thing, but the protests… completely changed the story, an entire storyline. That was not a planned – and I don’t know what the plan was, or if there was a plan to really address some of Randall [Pearson’s] identity issues around race but, that certainly – because of what happened, that was integrated into the show, and that was really cool. That was a really moving, complicated thing to take on…”

On shooting “This Is Us” on-location in Vietnam:
“Well, some of the Vietnam stuff was just really hard physically, you know? And then we actually went to Vietnam… we went to Vietnam and shot that stuff. And, a lot of that stuff that was – not any of the war stuff, but you know… the village we built outside L.A., but a lot of the stuff through the countryside – when Milo [Ventimiglia] is walking through the countryside there… that was pretty amazing actually. In doing some of the stuff about Vietnam was just – I mean that was physically very different than what we’d been doing. Mounting that was hard, and then, one of the episodes – my mom passed away while we were doing the Vietnam episode, so that was hard emotionally. But that, you know – ‘hard’ that way is kinda great. I mean ‘hard’ in terms of physically demanding is kinda great as a director… It was very cool for me also because, I grew up then. I mean, I was young, I was in high school in 1972 or whatever… I was always felt – I feel a lot of the times when people that didn’t live at all during then, there’s some part of the texture that is missing when it’s recreated. Like, it was a different – it was just a feeling.”

On how “This Is Us” tackles stigma, such as obesity:
“I think there’s a deep empathy. I mean, empathy really defines the nature of the show, so I don’t think they would ever – Dan [Fogelman] wouldn’t create a character that was gonna be significant to him, that he didn’t have empathy for. So, I think that would be – and I think that Dan, in his life, has a relationship to [obesity]. That this is something that his family deals with, and I think that was a real – I think that was important to go ‘okay, we need to create a character who has obesity, and explore that as this character’s journey the way that alcoholism is this character’s journey, or failure is this character’s journey,’ you know, whatever it is. And, I think that was a character that [Dan] really wanted to create.”


More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at

Upcoming guests include Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Joe Pantoliano (“The Sopranos,” “The Matrix”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), and Reid Scott (“Echo”).

Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), International Bestselling Author Patrick McGinnis (“The 10% Entrepreneur,” “Fear of Missing Out”),Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”). 

More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit