If you thought Chris Sullivan, who plays Toby on This Is Us, looks a little different in real life, you'd be right. According to Us Weekly, Sullivan wears a fat suit when filming the show.
This news is certainly surprising, especially since Toby's weight has been such a big part of the show, but it's also disappointing since body image plays such a large role in his love story with Kate. Even Sullivan has talked about how relatable their struggles have made them to so many people.
"Everyone has a sense of shame about something, and everybody is attempting to overcome that shame by connecting with the people that they love,” Sullivan told People last year. “And it’s hard to face sometimes, the things that we feel ashamed of, or shame about. But the true path to a loving connection is battling those things and bringing them out into the open.”
I know this is a TV show, not real life, but there's something disheartening in knowing that the "shame" these two are facing is not one Sullivan is actually experiencing himself. Especially since Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate, is.
Last year it was revealed that Metz is contractually obligated to lose weight for the show. Metz would later clarify what that means to Ellen DeGeneres telling her she thought of is as a "win-win for me — motivated in a different way this time.
“It wasn’t mandated. It wasn’t like, ‘You have to do this,'" she added. "But if this is the story line, naturally you would lose weight. So I’m excited if that should happen.”
The belief was that Sullivan also had this in his contract and that the two would be losing weight together. Not because thinner is better, but because these two people were trying to become healthier. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally dealing with the "shame" they felt about food.
Now, it feels like Metz is under additional pressure to lose the weight for her character while Sullivan can easily take off the fat suit to show his character's progress.
There was a sense that the show was giving fans a love story that bucked Hollywood standards, but instead it keeps with Hollywood's idea that people who are deemed overweight by society need to stick with their own kind.
Why can't Sullivan play this character as himself? Why did weight have to be the way Toby connects with Kate? These are just a few of the questions I can't help but ask knowing that Metz has always been upfront about the fact that she knows where her character is coming from. This is a personal storyline for her.
In an interview with Refinery29 Metz admitted she "felt a sense of responsibility to represent actors, plus-size actors, plus-size women, or people who are struggling with their weight. I have that experience, and I really want to do it justice."
What doesn't do plus-size actors justice is hiring someone to pretend to be overweight. Knowing Sullivan is wearing a fat suit feels disrespectful to the story This Is Us is trying to tell about one's struggle with weight, but more importantly, it feels disrespectful to Metz.
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