Spoilers ahead for the season two finale of This Is Us.
On Tuesday night’s season-two finale of This Is Us, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) finally say “I do” — as do Alternate-Future Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). Vulture caught up with Metz to talk about Kate’s process of letting go of her father, what it was like to film two weddings, and the stories she’d like to see told in future seasons.
Unexpectedly, we got two weddings in the finale. It seemed like a big party, with the entire cast there. Tell me what that was like.
We shot at this really beautiful location that obviously was the setting for the Poconos, upstate. The family who live at this actual farm are the kindest people and they were so happy to have us, so it really felt like we were getting ready for a wedding, even if they were the background artists who were bringing in the flowers and the vans and all that. There was definitely a feeling in the air of, Wow, this is going to be a really special episode.
How long were you there?
I think over four days. And, like, ten-hour days. When there are more than two or three people in a scene, you have to do much more coverage. And then, of course, there are all the wedding background artists and everybody else who has to be there to make it look authentic.
It was very emotional to see older Jack in Jack and Rebecca’s vow-renewal ceremony.
Yes. The writers found a way to incorporate something that would’ve been Kate’s dream: to see Jack in the present day and have him there. So much of what we think about during the day we often bring into our dreams, whether subconsciously or not. So I thought it was really beautiful that they were able to creatively and emotionally incorporate everybody to be there in some way, shape, or form.
And it was great to, of course, work with Milo [Ventimiglia] and just to imagine what their relationship would have been, could have been. I know a lot of people who have lost their fathers or their loved ones, who would wish that they would be at such a huge life event, are really gonna relate to that. And I could too, personally. So it was really, really emotional and really fun, but also hard to sit and watch Jack describing these 40 years he and Rebecca had together that never really happened. Even the background artists were getting choked up.
I’m wondering how you’re feeling now about Kate’s story. It feels like this is a completely new start for Kate because she has finally put her grief and her love for her dad in a certain place we have never seen before.
She’s definitely evolved through really difficult experiences, whether it was Toby’s heart attack or their miscarriage, to come out on the other side of it and know that, while nobody will ever fill Jack’s shoes, Toby is a pretty darn close second. But it’s just really great to see that evolution of a character, because she’s been working at it and trying to overcome the most difficult thing in her life, which was the loss of her father and feeling so much guilt about that. Toby has been so instrumental in that process and, of course, her therapy and all of that together.
Do you feel relieved for Kate that that’s behind her, and that maybe something more fun or exciting is in store for her? Her grief has really been the driving force of her story.
I don’t necessarily feel relieved. I really trust the writers. They always bring something really wonderful to everyone’s story. I’m glad that we’re seeing this change, and I am excited to see what that means for next season.
Although they did give us a little glimpse of the near future, and that was a bit scary.
Yeah, a bit. But, like I said before, as much as Toby has helped Kate, it’s her turn to show up for him and see what that looks like and what that means, ‘cause she’s gone through that — she has been through some really difficult times, regarding Jack. So if anybody is ready, I think it’s Kate. And I think it’s gonna be hard for her to balance her life and her boundaries. She is strong enough now to help him through that.
What was it like to film the scene with just you and the urn? Ohhhh — honestly, that was hard, because I have never experienced that, letting go of the ashes of the most important person in my life. Thank God I haven’t experienced that. But I know what that means for people, and I have friends who have done that, and there is something very cathartic in that release of the ashes and moving on. It’s the moment where she’s okay letting him go now to make room for Toby. It’s what is necessary for Kate. It was such a struggle for her, and of course that stump and that location and the cabin — everything was so, so, so important. And if he couldn’t be there, at least he would be there in spirit. But it was hard, because so much of Kate’s story has been about her guilt and shame surrounding the death of her father. It’s complicated.
What was it like for you to work on that scene, since you said you haven’t been through that personally? What did you do to get in the headspace for it?
I never had that kind of relationship with my father, so it was more about grieving the loss of something I never had as opposed to the letting-go of what once was. So I tend to use that, and really wishing I had that beautiful relationship that Kate and Jack have. I think so many people would love to have that relationship with their parents, whether you’re a daddy’s girl or a mama’s boy. Our parents are really our first teachers, and sometimes our last teachers, in the capacity of losing them. So that’s typically how I tend to approach the scene. But also just knowing that we deal with life on life’s terms, and sometimes that’s really difficult. In order to get to the place we want to be, we have to go through the hardships and the letting-go. I mean, Jack will be forever in Kate’s heart, but she had to make room for Toby.
So who gave a better toast, Kevin or Randall?
It’s so hard to say, because I feel like, in true fashion of what they were feeling in that moment, Kevin and Randall just spoke their truth. For so long, none of us did that, because so much of the pain was surrounding the varying ways the Big Three experienced guilt or shame. I think they complemented each other really well, and to see Kevin in that space of, like, “Let’s take this breath and let’s do this together as a family,” and the evolution of his character to where he is today — it’s so great because you just think he’s this vapid, attractive actor guy, and you have no idea how wonderful and deep and loving he really is. So I’m so glad to see that side of him being written.
And then, of course, Randall brings a little bit of the funny and the corny and the tender. He has a very honest and sincere marriage with Beth. And so I couldn’t choose. I think they compliment each other really well.
What about the dress? You looked beautiful.
Thanks! I did love the dress. It was such a process, because you have to think about practicality, functionality, what’s Kate’s taste, and the hair and the nails and the makeup and everything that any bride would think about. So, yeah, it was really fun. I had a wedding, but I didn’t have to pay for it or have a husband, so it was great.
It seems like we’re going to be flash-forwarding more. We got glimpses of some things to come. What are some of the stories you’d like to see told?
I’d love to see more about the struggle of Kate being Kevin’s assistant in those early years, and whether that helped or discouraged Kate’s music. I also really want to see the relationship between Toby and his brother and what that’s about. Did he have issues with depression from early on, or was it just at the beginning of the marriage? And where does that come from? And Beth! Where was she raised, and what about her family? She is such a strong, intelligent, confident woman that I’m sure that came from somewhere, and I’d love to see that. I’m just a fan, so I’m invested in everybody’s journey. And also Miguel: Does Miguel have kids, and where are they? Was there a rift when the Brady Bunch comes together? What does that mean? And did that inform Miguel and Kate’s current relationship?
Are you excited for season three?
I am! I only know a bit about what might be potentially happening. But I’m like, can Kate and Toby go to Hawaii on their honeymoon? Can we pitch that to somebody? Can we make a little field trip? I think that would be fun to see.
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