‘This Is Us’ Star Chris Sullivan on Life After Toby: ‘A Big Shocking Transition’

Chris Sullivan on This Is Us
Finale
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The final story of the Pearson family has been told, for now, as This Is Us aired its series finale. Among the cast members moving onto new projects is Chris Sullivan (Toby), who has been cast as the lead in The Son in Law, a sitcom pilot for ABC. (According to Variety, he plays a plumber who falls for a Manhattan socialite.)

“It was kind of a big shocking transition to do my last day of shooting on This Is Us, [then] drive onto the Fox lot to do a costume fitting and table read and those kinds of things [for The Son in Law],” Sullivan told TV Insider at an FYC Emmy event for This Is Us on May 22. “It’s interesting to be on a new set with new people and get used to the rhythm of the writing. It’s all going well. The feedback is good.”

Despite Toby and Kate (Chrissy Metz) getting a divorce, Toby remained a member of the Pearson clan – something that doesn’t always happen when a couple legally splits. “I think there’s a certain bond when children and grandchildren are involved,” Sullivan offers. “Especially when the dissolution of the relationship is fairly guilt-free. There was no grand destruction.”

Thus, it was only fitting that Toby be invited to join the Pearsons as they said a tearful farewell to Rebecca (Mandy Moore) on her deathbed. “There were other moments like Thanksgiving where Toby was not included but [for Rebecca] he was,” Sullivan adds.

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So, while Toby and Kate had a tender moment in the finale, he ended up with Laura (Alexis Krause) and Kate found happiness with Phillip (Chris Geere). Is it okay if we like Phillip now? “Oh, sure,” Sullivan says with a laugh. “Phillip is a good guy. Chris and I are going to be friends for a while. He’s a good guy, too.”

It wasn’t uncommon for journalists on red carpets to share their own emotional stories with the This Is Us cast in between storyline and character inquiries. And while the actors would have been well within their rights to say, “Hey, we’re here to talk about me,” this reporter observed them always responding positively and sensitively when the fourth estate shared their personal tales.

“It’s been our pleasure,” Sullivan says. “That comes down from the top. [Creator/executive producer] Dan Fogelman has shown up for us at every turn. He’s delivered us these characters and stories and scripts. That only makes us more excited to show up and talk about it. The reason we’ve always been excited to talk about the show is because we love it.”