‘This Is Us’: Chrissy Metz Talks That Big Scene With Mandy Moore

This Is Us - Chrissy Metz, Chris Sullivan
Spoiler Alert
Ron Batzdorff/NBC
Chrissy Metz as Kate and Chris Sullivan as Toby

[Spoiler Alert: Do not read ahead unless you’ve watched the Nov. 21 “Number Two” episode of This Is Us.]

The emotional roller coaster ride of the This Is Us trilogy of episodes isn’t done yet, but Tuesday’s “Number Two” episode, which focused on Kate Pearson as both a teenager (played beautifully by Hannah Zeile) and adult (Chrissy Metz, who needs an Emmy NOW), hit just as hard as last week’s ‘Number One’ episode featuring Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) journey.

In “Number Two,” we came in knowing that Kate had lost her baby but didn’t know how things had played out and how it would affect her relationship with Toby (Chris Sullivan) and her mother, Rebecca (Mandy Moore). And, when we flashed back, playing some of the same scenes as ‘Number One’ but from Kate’s point of view, we saw the earlier moments where Kate and Rebecca were not connecting and learned why.

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The most powerful scene in the episode (and there were so many) had to be the scene between adult Kate and Rebecca, who has unexpectedly come to visit after she’s found out about the miscarriage. While Kate normally pushes her mother away, they finally have a breakthrough when Rebecca shares her own pain after losing third twin, Kyle, at the time when Kevin and Kate were born. Powerful stuff.

Metz talked to TV Insider about shooting the episode, what made Kate NOT eat that plate of food at the buffet and, of course, she breaks down working with Moore in that climactic scene.

What were your first thoughts when you read the script because there’s so much going on with Kate in this episode?
Chrissy Metz:
Yeah, there’s so much happening. We knew about the miscarriage during the summer when we had our production meeting but we didn’t really know how it would play out. Like the bigger picture of how Kate and Toby are affected and will Kate and Rebecca come together? Will she call her Mom for a shoulder to lean on during a really, really hard life moment? Also, the miscarriage. I personally have never experienced it but one in five women will and it’s something that we don’t talk about. There’s a lot of shame about it and I was honored that they chose Kate to tell that story and how it was going affect her relationships and her relationship with herself. And what is she going to do in these dark moments. It was a lot to process.

THIS IS US — “Number Two” Episode 209 — Pictured: Chrissy Metz as Kate

We see Kate’s relationship with her mother as both a teenager and as an adult but how would you describe it?
We know from when she’s eight or nine years old that Kate’s constantly comparing herself and not being judged in a conventional way, but that she never feels like she’s going to measure up to her mom. Whether it’s because she’s too heavy or she doesn’t sound as good. She’s not as good of a singer as her mom and she’s never going to measure up. So there’s resentment and there’s pain and it’s awkward because Kate is really close with Jack and then there’s that resentment from Jack and Rebecca and their relationship. And it’s very layered.

We see Kate in her most vulnerable state, as a 37-year-old woman, going through one of the darkest moments of her life with her mom. I was actually really excited to see that they came together and that Rebecca was going to be so vulnerable expressing how she never got to hold Kyle or she chose not to. And she basically had a nervous breakdown in the grocery store and that you have to talk about your feelings. And so much about Kate’s pain and her turmoil is that she’s never felt like she can really talk to anybody and they actually have this really honest, raw conversation. And just showing up for her without warning was really beautiful to see. And of course the scene after, where she explains all these things that you want, you need, when you’re just broken. I think it’s the first time that either one has ever had this conversation and ever allowed themselves to have this conversation.

You and Mandy have worked together for awhile now, but how was that scene in particular to shoot?
First of all, there are so many things happening. You’re in and out of the scene. They’re changing the lights. They’re moving around. People are talking. There are a hundred people on set at any given moment and you have to just stay in this very raw, present, authentic moment. And that’s challenging. It’s easier with Mandy Moore because she’s absolutely lovely in every way. She shows up as an actress in a way where, not only do you trust her, but you feel and you know that it’s just as important to her as it is to you. And then it was a moment that obviously Mandy and I haven’t shared as actors. So that, as human beings, was really cool to share together.

It was very, very emotional I have to say. And even though I’m older than Mandy, I definitely look up to her in a way. So it does help in that respect. But it was challenging because you just have to stay in that moment and your body doesn’t know the difference. On a cellular level your body’s like, I am beat. I am broken. I need rest. So it was challenging staying in that head space.

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When we see Kate go to the buffet, what stops her from diving into the plate of food, as I’m guessing eating like that is her pattern when she’s upset, right?
Definitely her pattern. Her comfort. It’s what helps her. But I think because she has so much guilt around being plus sized, she feels that that is the reason why she lost the baby. And so part of her process is believing and thinking that, well, if she continues to eat that’s not going to help her. At least in the backstory that I prepared, she desperately wants to try again. Even though she hasn’t expressed that to anybody. So she knows it’s only going to make matters worse because once she falls off the wagon, it’s really hard to get back on. But I also feel like she’s so broken and distraught that she doesn’t even have the energy to want to get into that head space again.

We don’t see much of adult Kevin in this episode, but given she does reach out to him and he’s not there for her, will that come up between them down the line?
I think that it needs to be addressed, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue to destroy their relationship. Kate understands what he’s going through because she feels the same way, although it manifests differently so she can’t fault him for actually needing to sort out what’s going on with himself. She has an idea that something was up because he’s not been himself but it doesn’t destroy their relationship. I think there’ll be some apologies necessary and also some understanding and then explanation. And we will come to find out how that all has been played out with the family and with Kate, in particular.

Anything you can say about the next episode, Randall’s episode?
I haven’t seen it yet! Of course, I read the script and I’m so happy that we get to see Randall in these teen years of him becoming a young man and how different people in his life have shaped him. And how difficult it must be to be an African-American kid in an all-white family. And yes, they’re his family but he still identifies with something else because he is different. It’s so important to talk about that because it’s not necessarily a race issue. Sometimes it’s cultural or sometimes it’s just the upbringing. You get to discover these other parts of Randall. And, of course, Niles (Fitch) who plays the young Randall and Sterling do a fantastic job.

This Is Us, Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC.