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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us, “Still There.”]
The Pearson kids may be grown up in the present day storyline on This Is Us, but life seems to be just as complicated as ever. On Tuesday night’s episode, Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) dealt with the complexities the new addition to their family brought, as Kevin (Justin Hartley) kept going down the rabbit hole of a potential painkiller addiction and dealing with the trauma left behind following his father’s death.
Meanwhile, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) faced a bit of a relationship hiccup when Kate obsessively tried to “stay healthy” in order to prepare for a big show, shutting Toby out in the process. But just as the storyline seemed to indicate that Kate was about to deal with issues of her own in the form of weight-loss pills, the story veered left in the final moments of the episode and revealed instead that Kate is now six weeks pregnant, and that her newfound obsession was all about keeping herself fit enough to host the new addition to her womb.
Hot on the heels of that big reveal, THR caught up with Metz to find out how long she’s been playing Kate pregnant, whether history is doomed to repeat itself between mother and daughter given Rebecca’s (Mandy Moore) own backstory with her mom in the episode, and what this means for Kate and Toby, her singing career and life in general.
How many episodes have you been playing Kate knowing she was pregnant?
In my mind, probably the episode before. At least in my backstory, she has some sort of an inclination but didn’t necessarily believe it to be true. She didn’t completely believe it until she went to the doctor’s.
Do you know where the inspiration for the storyline came from? Is that Dan’s sister?
I don’t know necessarily that it was his sister as much as the writers in the room who know people who have a story similar, or it’s just sort of a group consensus of where they see the character going. I don’t think it’s directly connected to Dan or his sister necessarily. Then again I could be wrong —we don’t always know every detail about that. But even if you are a straight size, it’s a little scary and uncharted territory and then being a plus-size woman adds another layer to it all.
Kate’s need to be healthy for the baby did border on obsessive. What other fears or factors will this pregnancy have on her?
There’s always fear of how she’s started to pursue what she wants with her music so she wonders if she’s going to end up like her mom and be resentful. And then there’s the wondering if she’s fit and healthy enough mentally, physically and emotionally to have a baby, so that comes with a whole host of worries and anxieties. But ultimately, she and Toby love each other desperately. Like many people, they want to have a family whether they adopt or biologically have them. I’m undecided myself; I have a large family and I taught preschool. But by nature a lot of women feel compelled to have children. Kate specifically has that desire but never thought it could be possible and never thought she’d find somebody she’d want to have children with. Toby can be such an incredible human. Can you imagine him as a father? So it’s something that while she’s very afraid and timid over, she’s still very excited that it’s a possibility and now it’s happening.
Why hasn’t she told Toby?
She’s very afraid. She’s afraid to admit it’s real because then your heart becomes involved. Then there’s that potential for disappointment. I didn’t even realize this but after 35 years old it’s considered a geriatric pregnancy. Like, what? And not to say people don’t have healthy, wonderful, perfect geriatric pregnancies, but there’s this thought of disappointing…it’s one thing to handle your own disappointment. Mostly she knows how he’s going to react but they’re not married. As his mother probably believes, they’re living in sin. They just got together; it’s not even a whole year really. And she doesn’t want to disappoint him because God forbid. What if he’s not into it, or what if there’s a potential complication or problem? You don’t ever want to break a loved one’s heart because that’s harder to deal with than your own.
Toby is the king of grand gestures. Is this pregnancy an opportunity for Kate to make one of her own?
It will be interesting to see his reaction and to see what his thought process is and how he handles the news. She’s very timid and afraid of what it means in reality for them, and that’s why she’s so reluctant to communicate it. Nothing is ever guaranteed. And so it’s going to be really interesting to see and how interested or how much fun he has with the news.
What will the pregnancy mean for their engagement and the wedding?
They obviously genuinely love each other and if there’s a baby involved it could go either way — they could speed it up or postpone it. Most of what they do isn’t motivated by what other people think, so I don’t know if there’s an impetus to speed it up. When you choose to bring a life into this world there’s a sense of, “Meh, I’m pretty sure we love each other and we don’t need to have a wedding to prove it.” So it won’t necessarily speed it up, it might be put on the back burner for now.
Does this also open up a door to meet Toby’s family?
Yeah, I sure hope so. I really want to meet his mom and see that backstory. To learn more about Toby and the way he was raised.
Pregnancy can affect your voice — Adele has spoken out about that. Is that something that could potentially affect Kate and her new career?
Maybe in the back of her mind, but she’s still in a little bit of shock. She wouldn’t want to know those things or she wouldn’t want to WebMD those things because it might make her more potentially crazy. But I didn’t even know that about your voice changing during pregnancy.
Do you think Kate’s pregnancy hormones came into effect when Rebecca visited L.A. in the second episode or are things really that bad between them? Could a pregnancy change that?
I’d like to think I played a bit of that, and even though Kate didn’t know she was pregnant, things were changing and you saw her get territorial and not necessarily snap, but try to have something of her own by shutting her mother out. That definitely played into the writing. Pregnancies can bring a mother and daughter together and I hope it does that for them. But they could of course go the other way. Rebecca has her own issues with her own mom, and while we try to do the best we can, hopefully she doesn’t become overzealous. Even if it comes from a positive light, they still have a lot of things they’re working out. It will be really fun to see how it’s all played out.
There’s been a lot of focus on that relationship so far this season. Does it continue to be a focus for a while?
Yeah. We’ll get to see more of where their relationship and if and when and how they’re coming to an understanding on where each of them come from. Neither of them are right or wrong, these are just their feelings and our perception and our reality. They’re both doing the best they can. We will see more of that relationship and how they hopefully grow through the pain.
When the show first started you spoke at length about how this character was you. Now that Kate has had a season to grow as a character, what do you still have in common with her?
Much like Kate music hadn’t really been encouraged, she hadn’t been supported in that way and I felt that way in my personal life. My manager at one point told me to just be an actress because she didn’t know if I was a good enough singer. In that way I really feel reluctant sometimes on the stage or a little afraid of just owning my voice. And of course the way that we sing is the way we see the world and all that jazz. That’s a whole other thing. But when it comes to her relationship with her brother and her family and how that dynamic shifts and changes now that she and Toby are living together, I haven’t had that experience with my siblings. All of the sibling stuff in a way is new. But there’s still a lot of similarities in just being a woman trying to find your footing and of course being in L.A. and having to speak up and draw boundaries and all those things still resonate with me. And then there’s new things I’ve never experienced, like being pregnant!
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.
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