'I don’t think it’s been portrayed — well, really anywhere. Especially network television,' says the star of the NBC family drama about the revelation in 'Still There'
Spoiler alert: This story contains plot details from Tuesday’s episode of This Is Us.
To say Kate Pearson has been through a lot over the last year on This Is Us would be to traffic in great understatement. She has battled self-esteem and weight issues, started to lift the anvil of repressed guilt over her father’s death that’s been suffocating her, met a romantic guy, broken up with him over lifestyle issues, reunited with him, saw him collapse on a coffee table and nearly die, asked him to marry her at his hospital bedside, postponed wedding plans, moved in with him, and tried to launch a singing career at age 37.
And after Tuesday’s episode of the NBC family drama, only two words come to mind, “Oh! Baby!” That’s right: Kate is pregnant.
All episode long, it appeared Kate (Chrissy Metz) was particularly driven to lose weight and get in shape so she could fit in a dress for her big bar mitzvah gig while Toby (Chris Sullivan) pleaded with her to go easy on herself. In the final scene, we saw her laid out on the doctor’s table, with the doctor commending her for doing everything she can to stay healthy. And when Kate asked, “So, is it still there?” her doctor responded with, “Your poppy seed is now the size of a lentil. Congrats, you’re now officially six weeks along,” sending a sigh of relief across Kate’s face, along with a smile. As the credits flashed, so did a series of questions in viewers’ minds: Is she ready to handle this major life event to come? How risky is this pregnancy? Why doesn’t Toby know yet? What does this mean for her singing career? Let’s munch on the healthiest poppy seed muffin and bring Metz to the mic and hear what she has to say about this latest twist for the Pearson family.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Never a dull moment for Kate, huh?
CHRISSY METZ: No, no, no. There isn’t. I love the fact that obviously she’s having relations (laughs) out of wedlock. Everything is really unconventional, and I love that they’re talking about plus-size pregnancy. I love that it’s not like, Oh, here’s a plus-size girl just sitting in the corner, wishing her life would start.’ She’s actually living her life, and all of these really exciting things are happening, and it’s really nice. Because I don’t think it’s been portrayed — well, really anywhere. Especially network television. So I’m excited about it.
How long have you known about the pregnancy? And what was your first reaction when Dan [Fogelman, the show’s creator] pitched you the story line?
I guess I knew when we had a meeting during the summer right before the season was going to start. I’ve been really excited, obviously, [but] not able to talk about it. We all had meetings with the showrunners and got to understand really the bones of what was going on. And, of course, as we get the script, we get to read the meat of it all. It’s very exciting — and it’s uncharted territory.
This is happening fast. I know she and Toby have been wanted to slow things down. This is… not slowing things down.
It’s very fast. They just moved in together. She proposed to him in a hospital bed because she just knew and she didn’t want to let him go. And then cut to several months later, there’s a bun in the oven. Then there’s concern of having a potential high-risk pregnancy. I think part of her has not necessarily hardened her heart, but been afraid of what could happen, and that’s part of the reason that she did slow things down, because when you get married, and then there’s this expectation of having children, and of course she wants to have children. It definitely wasn’t planned, but I think they ultimately both were okay and would be excited about what could happen, which is having a baby.
Kate looked relieved when the doctor told her that she was six weeks along and everything was fine, and then came a smile of happiness. Given how fast it’s happening, is she feeling overwhelmed in addition to excited? What is that mixture of emotions we’ll be seeing?
It goes back to the second episode when she goes to the Hollywood party and her and Toby just started dating. She’s in that drunken stupor of really being honest with her emotions, and she says, “If I can even get pregnant, will people even notice? Will people even believe that I’m pregnant?” So now that she is, there’s so many emotions: Will she be a mom like her mother? And when she’s feeling good about herself, will she able to pursue singing? And trying to figure out all of her life and bring in another life to the world, that’s a huge responsibility. How is Toby going to be as a dad? I’m sure perfect. And what does it mean for their relationship? How sad will she be that her father’s not here?
There’s so many things going on, but she’s ultimately happy that she’s taking these necessary steps to be mentally and emotionally on the tracks, and physically on the tracks of where she’s supposed to be, and this goes to show she’s obviously very happy with Toby. It’s a new chapter of her life and I think one really that she never expected.
This is a high-risk pregnancy due to her age and weight, but the doctor said she’s doing everything she can on the health front. Is that concern something that the show will be exploring in the coming episodes?
Definitely. It’s something that a doctor says to you: yes, you’re doing all the things that are right, but when you’re over 30, it’s considered a geriatric pregnancy, which is bananas to me. So she has all of that to contend with, and I think that she’s in this mindset where she’s going to be diligent, and she is going to listen to the doctor and do everything she can, because she really does want to have a baby and start a family. I think it’s a lot to do with feeling normal, and a lot of women are like, “Okay, when I have a child, I’m complete. And my life is complete and my family is perfect.” I don’t necessarily believe that all women need to have children, personally. But I think that she feels a sense of completion and that she would begin a new life with Toby, with a child, but there is a lot of fear surrounding that, because Kate’s a smart girl and she’s done a lot of research. [Laughs]
Kate’s a very guarded person who doesn’t like to get her hopes up. Is that why she hasn’t told Toby yet?
Like most women, whether they’re high-risk pregnancy or overweight or never had a baby, or they’re older, there’s always this thought of, “I don’t want to tell anybody too soon, I don’t want to get their hopes up, I don’t want to get my hopes up, I don’t want to make it real because then I can be disappointed and have my heart broken.” So, yeah, I think she’s protecting Toby, even though it might seem a little selfish because, of course, he would be over the moon. But yeah, she’s afraid, she’s afraid of it becoming real, and then she’s felt a lot in her life that she’s disappointed people, including herself, and she doesn’t want any of that.
I would imagine Toby would be thrilled and make for a very excited hands-on dad. Maybe you just hinted at it when you said he’d be a perfect dad, but what would you say about Toby’s reaction to the news?
It’s what you would expect from Toby. [Laughs] Which is, you don’t know what to expect from him because he’s always just really supportive in his own Toby way.
How will this impact her, as she was just starting to be singularly focused on embarking on this singing career? We know Rebecca had hopes of a singing career and then put those dreams aside to focus on raising a family. There’s an interesting parallel here as Kate is just starting to get these big breaks.
I think that it’s not what she’d originally planned or hoped for in that sense that, oh my goodness, she’s just finding her bearings as a woman, and to then be responsible for another human being is really, really scary. Joyful but scary. That’s also a reservation for her that she does know what her mom gave up. And even though it was by choice and whether people believe that Jack might have persuaded Rebecca into having kids maybe before she was ready, that’s up for interpretation. But yeah, I think that half of her is really unsure and doesn’t know what the road that she’s going down is going to look like. I think what’s going to be so relatable to everyone is no one knows what pregnancy is like — what motherhood is like — until they experience it firsthand. She’s juggling a lot and it’s going to be uncovered with the audience as she discovers as well.
Does this news possibly push up plans for a wedding?
Kids are not cheap, that’s for sure. And weddings aren’t either. So I think that Kate and Toby are really living in this moment, and are living in the now. And while, of course, that’s in the back of both of their minds and the to-do list — and who knows what a Kate-and-Toby wedding will look like, which is another story for another time — I do think that it’s something that is going to be put on the back burner because we don’t know what this all is going to look like.
What hint can you drop about episode 5?
You’ll get to see Toby’s reaction, and what and how he truly feels about being a father. And what it means for their relationship. And if that dynamic will change, and how, so… [deep exhale] … yeah.
And what can you tease about the road ahead for Toby and Kate in the coming weeks? When we talked at the beginning of the season, you said there would definitely be some lows for them this season.
There’s a lot going on with Kate and Rebecca [Mandy Moore], and still some unresolved issues and emotions that are probably going to bubble to the surface a little more. And when a relationship is new and you’re in the honeymoon phase and you’re still on the pink cloud, everything’s great. And listen, Kate and Toby have gone through a lot together, but they’re stronger than they have been perceived in a lot of ways. But things are going to definitely change in their relationship, and they’re going to come up against some issues that are going to challenge the relationship. Truly, truly challenge the relationship.
Is she hoping it’s triplets so she can create a new Big Three? Or will they just adopt two kids in the hospital that day?
Oh my god! I mean, I think it would be so cute if there were twins or triplets. But I think that would probably put her into more of a tailspin. [Laughs] But knowing Kate and Toby, they’d probably want to adopt. But we’re going to leave the adoption stuff up to Randall. Because wooooo, he’s got his hands full.
To read what creator Dan Fogelman revealed about Kate’s big secret and Rebecca’s racist mother, click here.