This Is Us’ Ron Cephas Jones Dead at 66 – TRIBUTES

This Is Us’ Ron Cephas Jones Dead at 66

Ron Cephas Jones, the actor best known for playing William Hill in This Is Us, has died. He was 66 years old.

A representative for the actor confirmed the news to People on Saturday and attributed Jones’ death to a “long-standing pulmonary issue.”

Jones appeared in all six seasons of This Is Us. He won two Emmys for Outstanding Guest Actor in 2018 and 2020 for his work portraying Randall Pearson’s biological father in the NBC drama. The series ran between 2016 and 2022 and followed the Pearson triplets, Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley), and their parents Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), as they tackled emotional struggles together.

Sterling K. Brown Mourns This Is Us Dad Ron Cephas Jones

Life imitated art today, and one of the most wonderful people the world has ever seen is no longer with us,” Brown wrote in an Instagram post. “The world is a little less bright. Brother, you are loved. And you will be missed. Keep them laughing in the next phase of existence, and I’ll see you when I get there.”

Mandy Moore Remembers Ron Cephas Jones and Their Final Scene

“Getting to know and work with Ron on the wild ride of This Is Us was the greatest gift,” Moore wrote in a Instagram caption beneath a photo of the pair from their finale scene in the NBC drama series. She went on to say “he was pure magic as a human and an artist,” and an “intrinsic part of the fabric of the show.”

“I’ll never forget how special it was to film this particular episode and welcome him back to say a proper goodbye,” she wrote of their scene in the series’ penultimate episode when Moore’s Rebecca Pearson is visited by Jones’ William Hill in a dream sequence preceding her death.

Costar Chrissy Metz also honored the late actor in an Instagram post: “Thank you for brightening every room you walked into. I’ll never forget and have been changed by your kind heart, amazing spirit, immeasurable talent and beautiful smile. May your transition be full of light and peace. Sending all of my love to Jasmine & his loved ones during this time. You are truly the coolest cat.”

Susan Kelechi Watson Eulogizes Late Ron Cephas Jones

“It was really an instant gravitation,” Watson wrote of their relationship on Instagram. “Like anytime you were in the room I’d quickly make my way to you. Was it the New York energy, both of us getting a big break at the same time, the coolness, the swag, the stories of hardships and triumphs, the honesty, the laughter, the humor, the laughter, the laughter, the humor and the honesty. The genuiness. The freedom and generosity with which you gave your authentic self. Letting me know you. The joy of your meteoric rise at 59 years of life.

Sharing deeply in that joy.

The fact that I could say, ‘Hey…wanna go to a diner and rehearse this scene?’ and you were 100% down with it because thats where you came from,” she said, remembering their time working together on the NBC drama series. “Read, rehearse, stage. You knew it well. It was your short hand. I got to witness first hand your commitment to wanting to give the very best performance every single time…the absolute best performance you could give. You weren’t satisfied unless everyone else was satisfied when cut was called.”

She continued: “I appreciate all the check-ins we shared as you continued your journey onto new adventures. The reunions we had and the love that was always there. You were my friend. And what a blessing in this life to have a friend called You. You LOVED being an actor, an artist, a forever student of life. But I knew you to love nothing more than Jasmine. My heart goes out to you, [Jasmine]. You were the music to his soul. His Jaz, his jazz. His jazz.

One time for the coolest cat, one time for the mark he left that will remain,” Watson closed her emotional tribute. “One big ol’ standing ovation for my guy, Ron Cephas Jones. Jah bless and guide you sweetly home, my friend. Missing you…”

‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman Remembers How Ron Cephas Jones Shone Brightly Even as His Health Faltered

On October 22, 2015, my casting directors Bernie Telsey and Tiffany Little Canfield sent me a link to a batch of audition tapes from NYC. The auditions were for various roles in a new television pilot that I was beginning to cast, a pilot that would eventually become the series “This Is Us.”

This was my entire reply to them:

On Oct 22, 2015, at 11:20 PM, Dan Fogelman wrote:
holy Ron Cephas Jones. Yes please for me.

And in an immediate one sentence follow-up email, I added:

it’s like he walked out of my brain, honestly.

That was the start of my wonderful run with Ron Cephas Jones, who left us far too soon this past week.

For six years I had the privilege of writing for Ron on “This Is Us.” On the show, Ron played a complicated man named William Hill: a musician, a poet, an addict, and perhaps most importantly, the biological father to Sterling K. Brown’s Randall Pearson.

When “This Is Us” first launched in the fall of 2016, I don’t know that any of us were entirely ready for the immediate success it would find. One minute we were just a bunch of well-intentioned people, making a nice family drama for network television. The next minute NBC was selling “This Is Us” tissue boxes and the cast couldn’t walk down the street without someone hugging them and bursting into tears.

And in the epicenter of all that love for our show, there was Ron.

For that brief window of time, when the show took hold in the center of the zeitgeist, no one wanted to talk to me about anything except “This Is Us.” Complete strangers would offer up to me their favorite storylines, their favorite moments, their favorite characters. But there was never anything more often repeated to me than this:

“Oh, and that grandfather on the show. He’s just wonderful. What an actor.”

What an actor indeed.

Ron wasn’t just an actor… he was an actor’s actor. He was most at home on a stage: the real ones, all over New York City or wherever the work took him, as well as the more spacious soundstages where he worked consistently in TV and film – even if he didn’t become a nationally recognized face until this later stage of his career. I have never worked with another actor – not one – who seemed more content to be sitting off to the side of a stage in his chair looking over his script pages, or chatting with another actor (usually Sterling or Susan in our case).

Being an actor wasn’t just a thing Ron loved. It was what he was. It was who he was.

What many people didn’t know as they were watching Ron tear the cover off the ball in those first few seasons, was how ill he was.

At the start of “This Is Us,” Ron was a few years away from a much needed double lung transplant.

Movement was laborious. The simple act of breathing was not always easy for him. Often it was brutally hard. But Ron NEVER complained. Not once. In a cast of wonderful, grateful people – there was no happier person on our set than Ron. There was no call time too early, no lunch order received too late. And actor that he was, I believe Ron actually used his illness to help inform his performance as a terminally ill man. When his character wasn’t actively sick, Ron would find ways to save his breath and speak his lines effortlessly. But when his character was in the throes of end-stage cancer, I noticed that he let his own breathing issues play on screen… perhaps most memorably in the “Memphis” episode of “This Is Us” where his character passes away while being told by his son, literally, to “Breathe. Just breathe.”

It was devastating losing Ron’s character in that first season of that show. It happened in Episode 16 of our 18-episode first season, it was always planned that William would pass away in the show, toward the end of the first season, it was important for the show’s future storylines, and it was important for the arcs of other characters – particularly Sterling’s, it was all part of a very big plan.

But what we didn’t plan for was for Ron to be so goddamn good.

Rarely did a day go by that someone in my inner circle wouldn’t come to me and ask the big question, the question that I was already asking myself: “Are you sure about this? Maybe we should let him beat this thing? Find a miracle drug, or an amazing doctor, or a magic rock that cures cancer, or something?” Because while Ron could and would be in flashbacks moving forward, we were talking about removing him from the epicenter of the show. As a writer it was like being given a superpower, and then giving it back willingly in just Episode 16. “Nah, I’m good, I don’t need super strength. It’s the right decision for the show.”

It was brutal.

Ron never balked. He never expressed anything but gratitude and thanks – both when his character left the show, or anytime he would return to play with us in the years to follow. I never spoke directly about this with Ron, but losing his character so early always made me feel a bit guilty; the idea that this beautiful man would be so fully at the center of our our early success, but never get to share in the on-going success like the rest of us – not just financially, but also in the daily joy and camaraderie that we’d all found together on this unexpected miracle of a show.

But Ron continued to assuage any internal concern or guilt I had. Every time I’d see him, he’d beam talking about new acting opportunities that were coming his way. He’d share how overwhelmed he was to have won two Emmys for his work on the show – at his age, after such a workmanlike career. His health took a huge swing for the better, and he was grateful for that.

Perhaps because for so long he labored for every single breath, he was grateful for each next one he got. Literally and figuratively.

And at the center of all his gratitude, all his pride, was his daughter Jasmine. No matter how much breath Ron Cephas Jones had in him, he saved some to talk about her. The only thing he loved more than acting.

Ron’s final big moment on the show was in our penultimate episode, as he played escort to Mandy Moore’s Rebecca on her magical train ride to the afterlife. In the final moments of the episode Rebecca remarks:

“It’s quite sad isn’t it? The end.”

Ron’s reply, and one of the final things I’d ever get to write for him:

“Oh I don’t know, the way I see it, if something makes you sad when it ends, it must have been pretty wonderful when it was happening.”

He was as wonderful as they come.

Breathe easy, my friend. I look forward to writing for you again on the other side. I promise you won’t even have to audition this time.

‘This Is Us’ Cast Reunites to Celebrate the Life of Ron Cephas Jones

This Is Us cast members Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, Chris Sullivan, Susan Kelechi Watson and Jon Huertas reunited over the weekend to celebrate the life of their late co-star, Ron Cephas Jones.

In a since-expired Instagram Story shared over the weekend, Moore posted a photo of the fivesome sitting together at a restaurant, captioning the snap, “Before the tears, we broke bread. I love this family forever. And we love you, Ron.”

Watson reposted the A Walk to Remember alum’s Story, adding, “One time for the coolest cat. One light & love forever,” while Huertas added in his own repost, “Love these people! Miss ya Ron!”

Sullivan also posted the same photo of the group on his own Instagram page with a heartfelt caption.

“We celebrated him as a #ThisIsUs family,” he wrote. “My takeaways from listening to [his daughter] @jazzy_joness and Ron’s closest lifelong friends…? 1. Ron Cephas Jones may have been the most self-realized man I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. And BY knowing himself so clearly, he could dedicate his life fully to his family, his friends and his art.”

The dad of two added: “2. Ron made his daughter feel loved and safe, by making space for her to fully express and realize HERself. In one memorial, I discovered everything I want to be as a father.”

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Source: TV Line / Variety / The Messenger

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