The title of the new Mandy Moore album is In Real Life. Released last month, it’s inspired by her young, growing family, but its title could also be a wink to audiences who know her as Rebecca Pearson, matriarch of a very popular and very fictional TV family from the NBC drama This Is Us. Calling the record In Real Life is a good reminder that Moore is an actual person separate from her career-defining role.
And, as an actual person, Moore sometimes has to make decisions for the good of her real-life family. The Houston Press spoke with her recently to preview a scheduled Houston concert next week at Heights Theater. At the time, she’d just announced she and husband Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes were expecting their second child. Yesterday, the singer/actress/mom shared with fans her decision to cancel the remaining dates on her summer tour, including Houston’s show.
“It is with a heavy heart and much consideration that I have to let you all know that I am cancelling my remaining show dates in 2022. It has been an honor and an absolute dream to return to the stage again this past month, performing for all of you,” Moore said in a written statement posted to her Instagram account.
“When we booked these shows, I wasn’t pregnant and although I truly thought I could power through, the way we are traveling (long hours on the bus and not getting proper rest) has caught up, taken its toll, and made it feel too challenging to proceed. I know that I have to put my family and my health (and the health of my baby) first and the best place for me to be right now is at home.”
Our chat preceded these events, but we did ask Moore whether she’s good with change. The award-winning series completed its six-season run earlier this year. She’s got new music out, her seventh full-length record dating back to her 1999 debut album, So Real. And, she’d just announced her pregnancy.
“I mean, I’d like to think I’m pretty adaptable and good with change. It is a lot,” Moore said. “Some is expected and some is unexpected, but it’s the perfect paradigm. It’s a great analogy for parenthood, I guess, or at least in my experience. You can feel as prepared as possible but really you just have to throw away any expectations you have and just keep putting one foot in front of the other and having some grace for yourself.”
Prescient words, perhaps, but also good advice Moore is trying to follow. The album touches on those notions, with motherhood, married life and hope as central themes. She collaborated with Goldsmith to create the music and chronicle their current place in life. The couple has a toddler son, Gus, who is soon to be a big brother.
In love, with a growing family, and finding time for her own singing career, that’s the In Real Life Mandy Moore. But real life still seems a bit blurred because of what Moore has in common with the character she lovingly brought to life. Rebecca Pearson may have been scripted but she and Moore share many traits as mother, wife and artist. So, is there a particular line, scene or episode from the series that Moore has adopted into her own experience?
“You know, it’s hard because we did 106 episodes, so I know there’s probably so many along the way, so it’s really the end that sticks with me at this particular moment and I just love what William says on the train when Rebecca’s like, 'Isn’t this sad? Like, this is over.' And he’s like, no, that’s a lazy way of viewing it. The idea if you’re sad that something’s ending it’s because you really enjoyed it along the way, I love re-framing that because, again, living through the midst of all of this change, yeah, I’ve said goodbye to my friends and this character and this experience and this thing that in totality just changed my life in every regard in these last years, on a creative and a personal level — I’m married and became a mom and all of these things sort of happened during this time period.
“I think for all of us that worked on the show, there’s a real grief in losing, saying goodbye to this experience,” she continued. “So, I like looking at it that particular way, through that lens of, oh no, it’s okay, this is a part of life and it just means we were present and we really enjoyed things as they were unfolding.”
Moore was carrying that approach to tour before halting the run. She was essentially touring on her last two albums, her latest release and 2020’s Silver Landings, which never got live play due to the pandemic. The tour began earlier this month and had drawn good reviews focusing on Moore’s sharpened songwriting and her stellar band, which includes Goldsmith and his brother and Dawes bandmate Griffin Goldsmith on drums.
Fans at those shows maybe didn’t go all the way back to “Candy,” Moore’s breakthrough single (and still a bop, if you ask us) and some may have learned about her actual music career from watching her on television. She said she was okay with that.
“I totally respect the fact that there are people in these audiences across the country and on tour that know me in one light and I fully expect that. And, I just appreciate anybody that wants to come see the music and share the evening together,” she said at the time. “You know, I’ve never made any bones about the fact that music has never been the thing that I have found the most success with in my career and I’ve never strived to have the gigantic sort of pop star career and play arenas.”
Still, Moore was hopeful about and excited for tour, her first “for real” tour since 2007, she said. She didn’t know what she had planned beyond the run of live shows but those plans can start now since she’s seeing after herself and her family a little sooner than expected.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I’m going to have a baby soon and then I’m going to figure out hopefully whatever the next job is. Take a little time with my family because I didn’t get to do that with Gus. I was pregnant throughout filming and then I went back to work with him when he was a month old, so I’m ready to just be mom for a second and figure out what comes next and make sure that it’s something that I’m really passionate about. The stakes are so much higher now, to spend time away from my family, in a way that they never have been before.
“I love hiking and climbing, I love the mountains,” she said, “so, maybe once I pop this baby out and have a little time that’ll be my mom getaway, some sort of fun mountain adventure. Hopefully I can have a little bit of a break with my husband before we welcome baby two, just because I know probably our life is going to be pretty busy for the foreseeable future.”
Before she applied the brakes, Moore considered the figurative road she was traveling. There’s lots of buzz that she’ll be an Emmy nominee for her final season of This Is Us when the nominations are revealed in July. The album has gotten solid reviews and she was returning to the road again.
“So yeah, it’s been a wild ride these last few months and weeks. I’m just trying to stay in a place of gratitude and appreciation because I just feel really lucky. There’s sort of this wish fulfillment of finally being on tour and making music and being with my family and everything that comes along with it,” she said then. "And I’m able to kind of celebrate the end of this very seminal chapter of my life with the show ending. It feels electric in a way. This is a very specific moment in my life, it’s not like this will ever happen again, so I’m trying to appreciate it while it’s unfolding this way.”
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE...
Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.