'This Is Us': Susan Kelechi Watson Breaks Down Beth's Best Season 4 Moments
The matriarch of the East coast-based branch of the family has been the voice of reason in many occasions, particularly for her husband Randall (Sterling K. Brown). In Season 3 viewers saw her branch out and explore her own dreams beyond the family by pursuing her love for dance and taking that to new heights in Season 4 when she opened her own studio.
But with their move from New Jersey to Philadelphia, there were adjustments as Watson's Beth dealt with the challenges of being a mom to growing daughters and being more honest with Randall when it came to her own anxieties. Below, Watson reflects on her Season 4 journey, exploring Beth, collaborating with her costars and more.
Beth had a lot of great moments this past year, what were you most excited to explore in Season 4?
Susan Kelechi Watson: I really loved Season 4, Episode 7 ("The Dinner and the Date"). I was very excited to work with Omar Epps and Marsha Stephanie Blake for that episode. I love my whole drama with them and the two families fighting for the kids and fighting to be heard. I loved that because it was such a fine line between I'm going to fight, but we're not going to take this outside. We're going to settle this the best way we can, but I liked that they were just unapologetic about being serious about it.
That was fun to play because that episode had a lot of comedy for Beth and it had a lot of the dramatic moments. She started off [the night] thinking, "Oh yeah, we could do this." Then she's in the closet drinking pantry wine, like "Oh no, it's about to go down." So, there was so many different levels and layers to that. I remember really looking forward to that episode.
Beth's always been a force of nature, but admits to Randall that she holds back on being honest about her own fears because he's too anxious. What was it like getting to show that vulnerable side of her?
It's so important that side of her is there, to show that it's not that she isn't [vulnerable], it's just that she will be strong for her family. I love that she called her husband to task in the fourth season and said I need your partnership in this. It's so okay to be vulnerable, that's part of strength, to be able to show that side to people and especially your partner. So I love when she gets a chance to say that she needs help.
Definitely and after Season 3's focus on tensions in their marriage, was it nice to step away from that in Season 4 or do you enjoy filming tense moments?
I like when they're together. I like when they're happy. I like when they're partners, I think they're a really strong team. You never want to portray a couple that's perfect, because it's not really the truth. You want to be as honest as possible and also show that they can survive it. Just because you have drama doesn't mean that you can't get through it.
What is your process for approaching more intense scenes like the ones you share with Sterling K. Brown?
For Season 3, I remember Sterling coming over to my place in L.A. and us really working on those scenes, like we were rehearsing a play. Our theater training is something that we're very intimate with and I remember there was just so much text too, and so many moments to figure out.
But for the most part, we usually do it on our own and bring it to set and then we bounce it off each other, we do it all different ways. I don't think we really ever quite do the same way twice. We try different things and there's a real trust between us to do that and that makes it fun and exciting.
Beth was a big advocate for therapy and encouraging Randall to participate in that practice. Do you think that will continue in Season 5?
Yeah, I think because he's at least put his toe in the water, I think she could continue to encourage him to go in that direction and I would hope that she does. I hope to see an episode where they both go. That might be helpful as well.
Beth's role as a mom has also shifted a bit, what changes have you noticed in her approach now versus when the show started?
I think now as [the girls are] getting older, the issues they're having are different. So you may not be as hands on, but you have to talk to them differently and you have to deal with more mature issues and I find that she has to be okay with letting go a lot. The older they get they get, you do have to kind of let go a little bit and allow them to figure it out.
So at this point, I think she is just trying to make sure that she maintains a positive relationship with them where they feel like they can come to her for anything because that's the most important thing, right? You don't want them to hide anything and not be able to come to her so that's the biggest thing, establishing a trust as they get older.
After the Season 4 finale, where do you stand when it comes to Beth's take on Kevin and Randall? Will she be cutting her brother-in-law out of the picture like her husband?
I don't think [she] would. This is one of those times she might go behind [Randall's] back. And try to figure it out. Guaranteed she'd have [Randall's] back but I don't think she would completely cut them off. It feels like she would try to be the person who keeps that connection open even as he's struggling with it. I think she would try to keep those lines of communication open as much as she could without being disrespectful to her and Randall's relationship.
Was Beth doing the right thing by removing Rebecca from the site of Kevin and Randall's finale explosion without intervening ?
Oh, I absolutely think she should have left it alone. At some point they just have to figure it out on their own. They're grown men and brothers and they have a right to it. You can't interfere with that in the same way that I wouldn't want them jump into one of our arguments. So I think there's a point where you know these people just have to have it out and maybe the best thing is for us not to get involved.
Are there any characters you'd like to see Beth interact with more in the future?
I had a scene this year with Chrissy [Metz] that was really great and fun to shoot. I enjoy working with Chrissy and I like these moments of sister and sister-in-law getting together. I think it's a fun dynamic that they have. I used to say Kevin, but I've gotten more scenes with Kevin, so I really love this idea of when the sisters get together, that'd be really fun to do more with Chrissy.
You were directed by your costar Milo Ventimiglia in "Storybook Love," and Justin Hartley directed "A Hell of a Week: Part 3." What was that experience like and would you ever consider taking the director's chair?
It was really great. I remember Milo made me feel like I could do it because he just made it look so easy. It was just a gorgeous episode. So they gave me some confidence and also really they put a fire under me to want to do it. So, yeah, I'm going to do it before the show wraps. I'm going to direct an episode. I'm going to throw my hat in the ring [Laughs].
The show is four seasons in and continues to resonate with audiences week-after-week. Why do you think it maintains such a strong pull?
We're all super invested in the stories and interested in keeping them very real and honest, and also we're just really interested in reflecting the society that we live in and family lives that are relevant to people. We don't take the small stuff for granted. Our show makes it really interesting to talk about the small stuff in life that kind of builds and becomes the bigger stuff. I find that to be one of the things I love the most about the show is it takes the [challenges] of life and magnifies it.
This Is Us, Season 5, TBA, NBC