This Is Us actor Caitlin Thompson talks Madison's decision, future with Kevin
"She's realizing she's worthy of finding true love," the actress tells EW after the season 5 finale.
Warning: Spoilers from Tuesday's episode, "The Adirondacks," are discussed in this article.
When it was finally time for Madison to say "I do," instead she said: "I don't."
On the season 5 finale of This Is Us, Madison (Caitlin Thompson) jilted Kevin (Justin Hartley) right before their ceremony. Madison spent all of her bridal prep time revisiting her memories of her mother's exit (via a pair of "something borrowed, something blue" earrings her mom left her), her father's insistence that she'd best settle for any scrap of affection, and her failed long-term relationship that sent her spiraling into disordered eating.
After much reflection — and asking Kevin point blank if he was in love with her and getting a non-answer — she realized she couldn't marry a man who didn't love her and called the whole thing off.
But in the episode's final flash-forward to four years in the future, Madison is still very much a part of the Pearson family, serving as a bridesmaid to Kate (Chrissy Metz) at her (gasp!) wedding to her music-school boss, Phillip (Chris Geere). Madison seemed on excellent terms with Kevin, ribbing him and even playfully pushing him out of the room — although their relationship status, with each other and anyone else, remained unclear.
EW caught up with Caitlin Thompson at the season 5 finale screening to break down the wedding that wasn't, Madison's flair for the dramatic, and what might lie in her romantic future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: For weeks, we'd been led to believe that Kevin might back out of the wedding, thanks to an old flame. But in the end, it was Madison who couldn't marry a man who didn't love her. How hard was that for her, considering what we know about her search for any shred of affection in her life?
CAITLIN THOMPSON: I think it shows a lot of growth on her part. Maybe in the past, before she'd gone through this relationship, she would've gone through with it, but that's just the embodiment of how she's grown. She's realizing she's worthy of finding true love. There's a lot at stake for her. She has a family with Kevin, so it wasn't a light decision, obviously, but that's the risk she was willing to take to find what she's deserving of.
She tried to give Kevin an out multiple times early in their engagement, so why call it off now at the last second?
For drama purposes! [Laughs] It's more dramatic when you're in the wedding dress. What they did with the flashbacks — these earrings with the mom — I feel like it was bringing up all these old emotions and making her realize where she's come from and why she is the way she is and where the eating issues come from. It's been an awakening for her, and it almost takes a big event to realize something like a habitual characteristic in somebody. It takes a big moment to come to terms with it.
Madison and Kate pledged nothing would come between their friendship, and we see her playing bridesmaid to Kate. Still, she jilted her brother, so might that temporarily cause some hard feelings there?
I mean, I feel like Kate paved the way for her to be honest with her. Kate's really good at compartmentalizing between her brother [and Madison]. I think they're in a good place. I like to think so.
In the flash-forward, Madison and Kevin are very chummy. You could read that as they're together or just happily co-parenting. Is there any hope that love will grow like Kevin suggested?
There's always that hope. Honestly, I don't know. I think they both realize that it can't be the way that it is currently. It needs to grow or it needs to evolve in some way, so if that happens in the future, I think they'd both be open to it. But if not, they'd make an amazing team as co-parents.
What would you root for — for her to end up with Kevin or find someone else?
I feel like as long as she's happy and finds love, I'm good. So if it's with him or with some other great guy they find, I just want her to have a happy ending. I think she deserves it. So that's all I can root for.
That flash-forward had a lot to digest — Nicky is married, Randall's a rising star of something. Within those reveals or even outside of them, are there more shocking surprises to come?
I feel like if we know the show by now, there definitely can be more things popping up. But you're right, that was a lot to digest, so they're going to have to weave those into the story and I'm sure they'll keep us guessing and surprised.
Do you know who Nicky is married to?
I do not. That is not a lie. I honestly do not know. I have a thought. I think we all have the same thought. But I don't know.
Madison is part of the Pearson family now, even if she didn't marry Kevin, so what will her role and involvement in their lives look like going forward?
Definitely co-parenting. They're going to be in each other's lives every day or day-to-day. They're going to have to figure out that arrangement, what that looks like. He's currently living with her in her house because of COVID, so I don't know if that will still fly. They're going to have to figure it out.
The final season is coming up. What's on your wish list for Madison?
Madison will ride off into the sunset with her babies and her love interest.