Mandy Moore’s history with Stand Up to Cancer dates back to 2008 when the organization was formally launched by high-profile women from media and entertainment as a way to fight the disease and search for a cure. Moore has a longer history with American Airlines as her father, Don, recently retired as a pilot for the carrier after a 40-year career. Combining the two delivered a “very sweet connection” for Moore when she was asked to be the face of a new SU2C PSA for a joint campaign to raise funds for research. Through Sept. 30, customers will receive 25 bonus American Airlines AAdvantage miles for every dollar donated of $25 or more to SU2C. Moore hopped on the phone with The Hollywood Reporter on Friday to discuss the PSA, life after bidding adieu to NBC’s megahit This Is Us, and her husband Taylor Goldsmith’s onstage outing with Joni Mitchell at the legend’s historic Newport Folk Festival show.
You’ve been involved with Stand Up To Cancer since its inception. Why did you first link up with them?
It was just a no-brainer to get involved. Although I don’t have a deep and abiding personal connection somehow, knock on wood, the statistics are startling. One in every two men, I believe, and one in every three women will have to face some sort of cancer in their lifetime. I’ve been amazed to see the coming together of scientists and patients and survivors and actors and musicians and athletes who are using their collective power to fight against cancer. I’ve always been really proud to support their efforts and to try to do whatever I can using my little platform to raise awareness for the incredible work that is being done by all of their researchers.
Speaking of no-brainers, this one seems like the ultimate no-brainer as a way to extend your partnership being that it involves Stand Up to Cancer and American Airlines, a company that is close to you and your family. What was it like to field this request and have it hit home?
My father just retired after working at the company for 40 years, and we still consider ourselves very much an American Airlines family. The fact that they are continuing their commitment with Stand Up to Cancer and trying to help everybody get closer to the goal of making those diagnosed with cancer long-term survivors and all that they are doing to buoy the momentum of what the researchers at Stand Up to Cancer have been doing for years and years. It was a really sweet connection, and these sorts of things don’t come along too often.
Forty years is quite a spectacular accomplishment. How is your dad doing now in his retirement?
I think he misses it. If it weren’t mandatory for pilots to retire at 65, I definitely think he would’ve continued fine. He still flies in his spare time and whatnot. He very much loved his job and was so defined by his job. All of my friends call him Captain Don — he’s very much a pilot through and through. While he misses it, I have a kid and another kid on the way, so he’s really satisfied being Grandpa Don now for a little bit instead of Captain Don. But it’s strange, you know, my whole life I have just only known him as a super hard worker, always on the road. My stepmom is actually a flight attendant for American, so we still have the American Airlines in the family for the time being.
Do you still get American Airlines perks?
I mean, it’s hard to fly standby. These days, flights are so, so crowded, especially over the summer. My brothers for sure will try to use that status, but I long had to abandon that when I was a kid. That was the only way we could travel by dressing up and going on standby, but yeah, not now. Although it’s still fun to travel on American and have flight attendants come up and tell me that they used to fly with my dad or how much they liked working with him. That always made me feel really, really good.
Back to the PSA. Anytime I see someone hold up a sign that says who they’re standing up for, who they’re remembering, it’s so powerful. When you’re filming, do you get a chance to speak to any of the participants and hear their personal stories?
A little bit, for sure. It’s hard these days with COVID because it was literally like, “OK, everyone take your masks off and … action!” It feels restrictive in terms of really truly connecting with people, but it was palpable, the energy of knowing that you are in a room full of survivors and folks that worked at the company. It makes it all the more real and grounded. You can’t escape the reality of the message that you’re pushing, and it becomes very, very powerful.
How do you find navigating COVID protocols on set?
I’m so used to it now as it was the only way we were able to go back to work on This is Us in the early, early days [of the pandemic]. We were one of the guinea pig shows that started up in September 2020, that it’s almost like I don’t remember work without it. Obviously, when you’re on camera, you’re not wearing a mask but so much of the rest of your life on set is either spent wearing a mask or a face shield or both. It doesn’t really bother me that much anymore. I’m so used to it but I’m hoping for a day, not too far down the road, when it isn’t part of the reality of work anymore.
You had such a brilliant run on This Is Us. How is life after the show?
It’s strange. I drove by Paramount the other day and just had this, ugh, long sigh and a little bit of heartbreak thinking that for six years, normally would be going back to work right now at this time of year. I really miss my friends. I miss the work. I realized, oh, we said goodbye to the Pearsons. We don’t get to hang out with them anymore. That’s such a bummer. I’m sad about that. But I’m also excited about figuring out what’s next while I try to enjoy a little bit of downtime.
The great thing about job security is that for these last six years, we were pretty sure where we were spending the majority of our work lives. But it also means the machine never gets turned off, in a way. I feel like I never got to turn off even when we had our hiatus. I got to go climb a mountain or do this or do that with the little spare time that I had but then you just jump right back in. You never fully turn the burner on the stovetop off. It’s kind of nice to actually take a deep breath and be a mom and hang out while I’m getting ready to have a baby in a couple of months. I’m enjoying life and enjoying the summer.
What is your thought process on what you want to do next? Are you reading scripts right now?
I love working and I feel so incredibly lucky to have had the best job in the world for the last six years. I think every creative person is definitely afraid of not working and feels like their last job is their last job. I’m dealing with some of that, thinking, oh my gosh, am I never going to work again? I have been reading stuff and thinking about what’s next, but it’s daunting. Clearly, nothing will ever hold the same place in my heart as [This Is Us]. And, quite frankly, nothing will probably mean the same thing to the world in the way that that job did.
You have to put all of that out of your mind and not make any of it a consideration. You just have to follow your gut and find something that moves you, something you’re passionate about and feel challenged by, or whatever the criteria might be for you. I feel like I know it when I see it in the same way that I did on that show. I’m remaining open and excited about finding something wholly different, something that is challenging in a completely new way that I haven’t done before. I don’t quite know what that is, but it could be a series, it could be a limited series, it could be a movie, I don’t know yet. We’ll see.
I can’t wait to see. You’ve done great work and given your husband many reasons to be proud of you so I can only imagine how proud you are of him after what happened last week at the Newport Folk Festival where he shared the stage with Joni Mitchell. I’ve been poring over the YouTube clips. How did it make you feel to see the show?
Immensely proud. It was a tough secret to keep being the Joni superfan that I am. I know that it was a career highlight for him. I’m just devastated that we couldn’t make it out to support and watch history unfold in that way. I, too, have pored over every video that’s on YouTube — anything I could get my hands on. Poor Taylor was home for like a day, and then they flew to Japan to play Fuji Rock. I literally had just a few hours to ask him every single question about the weekend and really break it down with him.
But man, you don’t have a heart if you watch any of those videos of Joni and not feel every emotion under the sun. I just bawled when I saw “Both Sides Now” for the first time. She’s everything. She’s everything. Joni truly is the GOAT. There are tons and tons of incredible musicians and songwriters out there, but no one is Joni. It would’ve been cool to see any number of people onstage, and Newport is notorious for having these incredible final acts on the last day. This just seemed insurmountable considering what Joni has overcome. The simple fact that she was able to be there and participate at all, let alone floor people by playing the guitar and singing. It’s a testament to who she is to the world, to other musicians of this generation and all generations. No one would pass up the opportunity to be on that stage and support her and celebrate her in the way that she truly deserves. Taylor said she shimmied out onstage with the biggest toothy grin on her face and he’s never seen anything like it. She was in her element and apparently the energy was palpable. He said he will never forget that feeling of watching her come out onstage. It was such a celebration.
I saw that you had to cut your tour short. Do you think you will reschedule or are you just hunkering down at home for now focusing on the new baby and will figure it out later?
I cannot wait to tour. We had so much fun. It was the time of my life and everything I hoped it would be, but it was impossible at this juncture of being pregnant and with a toddler. Nobody was sleeping or getting any rest. I had to advocate for myself and draw some boundaries for my health and for the health of my baby. I knew it didn’t feel right. When the time is right, I absolutely can’t wait to get back out there. I don’t think we’ll reschedule these dates, but I will continue making music and will go on the road.
We played clubs and theaters, and I was able to feel that connection with people, especially when revisiting songs from my past that I think, for a long time, carried around a lot of shame about. I was able to reintroduce them and feel such affection for that chapter of my life. I was able to see the joy that it brought people to sing “Candy” and “I Wanna Be With You.” There’s no greater feeling. I can’t wait to revisit that and do it all again.”