'This Is Us': Chrissy Metz & Chris Sullivan on What's Next for Kate and Toby

Michael Maloney
Q&A Ron Batzdorff/NBC

This Is Us fans don’t take kindly to couples on the canvas breaking up, but the show’s writers are charged with creating conflicts for the characters, too.

So far in Season 4, we’ve seen how Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) are dealing with the fact that their newborn son, Jack (twins Poppy and Wells Barnes), is visually impaired. Toby’s taken to putting in overtime at the gym while Kate is spending time with Gregory, her neighbor, who is recovering from a stroke, just as is his portrayer, actor Timothy Omundson, is doing.

Ahead of the November 19 fall finale episode, "So Long, Marianne," TV Insider caught up with Metz and Sullivan at the NBC & Vanity Fair red carpet to break down the challenges their characters are facing in their relationship going into the second half of the season. Read on for the scoop!

We’re now learning that the relationship Kate had with Marc (Austin Abrams) as a teen was not a healthy one. Do you read those scenes from that era more closely as they inform who Kate is today?   

Chrissy Metz: Oh yeah. We read everything and I want to know everything. What happened to Kate in the past absolutely informs the choices she makes as an adult. Everything shapes and molds us. It’s all about how we decide to move through or hold on to traumatic experiences. We don’t know exactly what she experienced in her relationship with Marc, but it continues to affect her.

(Mitchell Haddad/NBC)

What’s it like working with babies?

Metz: The twins are so professional! We typically use Wells more often [that Poppy]. He looks like a replica of "Jelly Jack," the fake baby we use.

Chris Sullivan: They’re real pros.

Metz: One time, Wells literally just handed his bottle off to someone when it was time for cameras up. Coincidence or not, the boy has a future if he wants one!

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Sullivan: [Wryly] It’s important with both infants and actors to make sure they are well-slept, well-fed right on schedule with them needing to perform.

We’ve seen Kate and Toby’s strength as they deal with baby Jack’s condition — on the surface. Toby is throwing himself into working out. Kate is spending more time with her neighbor, Gregory. How is the marriage?

Metz: Dynamics shift and change and we’re seeing how roles are changing. We’re definitely going to see how this [all] affects them because this is uncharted territory.

(Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Can you talk about how Kate and Gregory’s friendship has evolved since they first met. It seemed all "crabby neighbor" at first, but…

Metz: Yes. Kate thought he was just this disgruntled neighbor. And, of course, we find out that he has a story, which we all do. His is so incredible. It’s nice that Kate has a friend to do things with that she wants to do like taking care of herself.

Is it fair to say that Kate is getting something emotionally from Gregory that perhaps she may not feel she’s getting from her husband?

Sullivan: [Faux outrage] You [expletive]! How dare you!

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Metz: We shall see…we shall see…

Why is Toby so obsessed with working out?

Sullivan: Trauma. Deeply repressed trauma.

How might Toby react if and when he finds out that Kate has this new friendship that may be providing her with emotional needs that Toby might not be?

Sullivan: I’m sure he’d be hurt, the way anyone else might be.

(Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Does working with babies and playing parents on the show tug at any heartstrings in your real life?

Metz: I have nine nieces and nephews, so I feel like I’m well-versed in babies. I’m ready to [see them all] at Thanksgiving. I don’t know if I want children. It’s a lot of work.

Sullivan: I don’t know. We’ll see. I love kids. My wife and I have had 13 babies come into our lives over this past year through friends and family, including two sets of twins, so we’re constantly surrounded by babies. We spend a lot of time with children. So, it kind of already feels like we have children.

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