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Interview: Chrissy Metz on Saying Goodbye to Kate and ‘This Is Us’

Chrissy Metz has had a spectacular last six years bringing the adult Kate Pearson to life. An Emmy nominee for season one, Metz has seen Kate through a number of highs and lows, including a major game-changer at the very end of season five for This Is Us (spoilers below).

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Metz just a short time before the series’ final episode, which aired yesterday, about getting to follow her arc, fan reaction to that big twist, and the impact of starring in – and writing an episode of – the show has had on her.

Q: How are you feeling right now about This Is Us?

A: You know, it’s weird. I think I’ve been grieving it for the past season, because I knew inevitably it was ending. And I was just sort of opening the valve just a little every day, just so I didn’t implode on the last day, because I know how I can get. And I’m still seeing everybody because we’re doing FYC events and interviews and stuff. I think it’s going to really hit me when we don’t go back next season, and I’m like, oh! Luckily, we’re all close friends, so while I’ll miss working with them in a working capacity, hopefully I’ll see them. But it’s definitely an end of an era. That’s a tough pill to swallow. I’m like, I don’t really know how I’m processing it. It’s just whatever feelings come up, thank goodness for journaling and therapy. This was like my first big gig. So I’m like, okay, I’m more than just Kate Pearson, I have other abilities. There’s other stuff coming up. So yeah, I’m processing a lot.

Q: I was at the finale screening, last year in LA with you and Mandy, and Dan Fogelman afterwards. That felt like a real turning point, too, because that was the first moment where we found out about Kate and Toby not making it. I spoke to Chris Sullivan last year and he said he knew about that for a while. He said that if there was a couple that wasn’t going to make it, it wasn’t going to be Randall and Beth. How did that hit you originally when you found out about it?

A: I didn’t like it. I was like, no! But I also understood the importance of not only delving into a divorce, co-parenting with a mother who was ill, a child with visual impairment, and adoption. They have thrown everything every single character’s way. Why not a divorce? Makes sense. And also, if you go back into the relationship, while they definitely loved each other, and they did everything they could, there were a lot of concessions each made, Toby and Kate, in order to make the relationship work, and it was beautiful. And they got to move through it and come on the other side of it, and really be best friends. They still are there for each other. But initially, I was like, this is stupid. I don’t like this. I feel like a petulant child, for selfish reasons, because I just love Chris Sullivan so desperately. And he’s my OG, you know? I didn’t like it initially.

Q: Well, I think the beauty of the show is that we get to experience that heartbreak and then we get to see in the same episode after we see that things really are bad that they do reconcile and that they’re actually very happy being the co-parents they need to be. I think that’s very sweet. It’s something that this show is uniquely able to do, back to Jack’s death at the very beginning, the idea that we lose them and then we get them right back. I don’t know that it’s realistic in some ways, but I think it’s very heartwarming, and it works well, to be able to relate to that.

A: Yeah, well, it took them some time, because a lot of people don’t understand that, from the time period that they divorced to Philip proposing to Kate was almost 10 years, essentially. Jack was around three, and then he was around ten when they proposed, so it was some time. I think people thought, uh uh, how dare Kate like just get married? I’m like, wait a minute, wait a minute. That’s not the kind of girl she is, but also, it just goes to show that co-parenting in the most ideal way would look like that. But it didn’t come without its bumps and bruises, that’s for sure.

Q: Is it fair to say then that you’ve seen some negative reactions to Kate and Toby not working out?

A: Oh, no, nobody likes it. Nobody likes it. Not one person. I think that people can see what so beautifully the show does is that you get to see both sides of a coin. Whether you are Kate or you are Toby, or you’re a bystander, you can understand that the way that anybody reacts to what anybody says is always more of an indication of how they’re feeling, as opposed to what’s going on with the character. And so it’s interesting because some people are like, Toby was too good for her anyway, and I can’t believe he stayed with her. She’s selfish, and she’s this. I’m like, wait a minute, let’s go back to the weight loss support group when he completely made himself a priority for her. And she was like, I don’t know, I don’t know about this dating thing. I want to get my stuff together and get my life right. And then he still pursued her, and then he wasn’t completely honest about him losing weight at the CrossFit. There were things that were like, wait a minute. Kate is not perfect, but neither is Toby. So I always like to remind people that, and let’s have a conversation about it, because every single person lives in the gray area. It’s not black or white. Nobody’s all good, nobody’s all bad. We’re humans, and so the whole point is to come on the other side of a relationship better than you were, and to be a better person in your next relationship. So I do think that’s the majority of what people are taking away. But it’s not without opinion, that’s for sure.

Q: I do think one of the nicest moments of the second wedding is when Philip says that he’s not going to do the traditions because they didn’t work out so well for him last time, so he’s going to look at Kate.  I watched Chris Geere on You’re the Worst, and so it’s fun to see him because, at first, it seems like this is the same role. He’s the same asshole, he’s the same guy. And then it really turns into something else. I think he reminds me of Miguel in a lot of ways, because everyone looks at him in the same way, that he’s coming in to replace someone they like. Miguel got has episode, but because the show is ending, Philip didn’t really get that. Do you feel that that’s fair to him, or this is sort of what his role is supposed to be?

A: Well, I think that’s just the beauty of the show, that while Dan and everybody, the writers decided, ultimately Dan, to end it on season six, there’s so much more story to tell. There’s ways that you could completely have drawn out all these other time periods and time jumps, and we would have gotten to see. I know that Chris coming in on the sixth season, he was like, oh my gosh, this is just so exciting. As an actor coming on to any show that is this moving to people, you’re like, just give me whatever you’ve got. I would love to have seen more about that, but I know they did condense a lot of his story, when we had that scene at the restaurant, when Kate walks out, and she’s like, I’m not sure I’m ready for this and what you really want from me. To have such a condensed version is sort of tricky, because you really want all the juicy details. But I also think that we probably would know more if there were more seasons for sure, because that Miguel episode was just so beautiful and heart wrenching. And also for this man who came from nothing to make something of himself but not want anything from anyone, but just to give and to be by Rebecca’s side because he made a promise to Jack. It’s like, oh, my god, it’s so much. It’s so much for your little heart to handle. Anytime you delve into the backstory of any character, it’s so perfectly done that. It would have been nice to see that. It would have been nice to see so much.

Q: At the time of this interview, there are only two episodes left. I think you know what happens. I don’t know if you’ve actually seen them, but I haven’t seen them yet. I feel like there are going to be so many unanswered questions and plotlines that weren’t able to be addressed. It seems like from what you’re saying that that was always going to be the case, no matter how many seasons there were there was always going to be something.

A: Yeah. Because what’s so wonderful about the show is that every single person that’s in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, there’s a ripple effect. Whether you meet somebody in the grocery store and you drop something, they pick it up, and you start talking and have this conversation and might become friends. The way that Dan just weaves it together in this beautiful tapestry, everybody changes you no matter if it’s for a moment, or they become your husband, or your wife. And obviously the matriarch of the show is Rebecca, and the way that she has, just as Jack has left everybody with heartache, she also will leave people with lessons and all of these ways in which to go out in the world, and that’s what any parent would want. And so I think no matter what, it was about Jack and Rebecca, these two young kids who decided to have children, in a very unexpected way, in a very uncertain time, and then you get to see how their life and their world blooms, and how their kids have kids, and those kids have kids. I think even the way it’s ending is beautiful. I feel people will be content. Even though we always want more, because that’s how we are as humans, I think the way that it’s done is just right.

Q: And six seasons is not bad. I know, there have been a lot of cancellations this week. Six seasons is pretty, pretty good.

A: I know! We usually get three seasons if you’re lucky. Especially on a network, especially with this kind of content. Six whole years. Yeah, we’re very, very grateful. We’re not complaining at all.

Q: You also got to be a part of writing an episode this season. What was that like? Was that your idea?

A: Yes, I’ve always written poetry, and I started songwriting about six years ago, around when the show was starting. And I always had dabbled in screenwriting, but I didn’t go to college for it. I didn’t really have on the job training, just from things that I learned from being an agent, and reading scripts and stuff. And I was like, oh my god, I want to tell stories. But I don’t know the heck how. So it’s always something I wanted to do, and then when Dan was asking, who wants to direct, who wants to do what, I was just like, I feel like I need to write an episode and be in that before I could direct. So, yeah, it was definitely my idea, and I was definitely scared and uncertain. Luckily, there’s scaffolding. There’s all this safety net for you. I got paired up with David Windsor and Casey Johnson, who I love. But they’re not going to let you fail, so that’s nice. There’s something kind of like, oh damn, you kind of want to fail to see where you’re at, and to see where you need to grow from, but I learned a lot. And there was so much process and so much work that people have no idea that goes into changing an ‘and’ to a ‘the,’ a ‘but’ to a ‘though’ or whatever. People don’t realize. I didn’t realize either. And so it was such a beautiful process in thinking, okay, maybe I’m capable of this, and I have some good things or quips or wit to add or jokes. And then I was like, I don’t want to say these words. I don’t think they’re right. I don’t know. And I’m second guessing myself while I’m on set. I’m like, Chrissy, it wouldn’t have been approved if it wasn’t right. And I was like, I don’t know, I’m too close to them. So that was weird. That was not what I was expecting. But maybe that’s just sort of you shake off the scaries. So maybe the next time it will, it won’t be as scary, but I thought I would enjoy the process of acting the words out more than I did.

Q: You started off by saying that you’re more than just Kate Pearson. Do you know what’s next?  What do you want to do after This Is Us?

A: I’m going to be working on more music, hopefully get an album out. I had a whole tour planned during the hiatus of the pandemic, the OG pandemic. And I’m going to Nashville very soon, as soon as I can wrap some things up here. Just trying to get a little tour going. We’re shopping around a show idea right now, so hopefully that will come to fruition. And yeah, just trying to be as creative as possible.

Q: I’ve really enjoyed watching the show over the course of all this time. I’ve been doing a lot of interviews recently, and my parents and my wife were like, say hi to Kate! We’re so excited you’re talking to her.

A: Oh! You can tell them say I say hi.

Q: Obviously they know they know your name as well. But I think this show really has affected a lot of people and will linger on.

A: That is so sweet, and it’s never lost on me. I always get emotional thinking about it, because you just didn’t see women like me on TV. Whether you were like Kate, are like Kate, can relate to her in some way, or you’re a sibling of a woman like Kate, there’s just so many things that the show covers. It was just so important, obviously, for me and for my life and my career, but also for my growth as a human. So all the stories and everything that people share, or even just saying hello, it really means a lot. So please tell them I said hello.

Q: I certainly will. Thank you so much. Good luck with your music career and looking forward to whatever comes next.

A: Thank you so much!

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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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