Chris Sullivan stunned viewers when he revealed that he wears a “fat suit” to play the character Toby Damon on This Is Us, and now he’s speaking out about the controversial revelation and his role on the hit NBC drama. In an interview with People Now, Sullivan said the suit is just a requirement for the job, and it shouldn’t be a big deal that he has to change his appearance the part.
“You know, there are different requirements for an actor for different roles,” Sullivan told People.
“As you’ll find in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, I’m not actually a space alien…As far as the costumes that we put on to try and explore the emotional space of a person, I’ve done that a lot in my career, and I’m very proud of the work that I’ve done as Toby.”
Some This Is Us viewers were outraged when it was revealed that Sullivan is not actually overweight, and they called out the show’s producers for not hiring a heavy-set actor to play the part of Kate Pearson’s (Chrissy Metz) love interest.
Sullivan went in to say he would be more concerned if people had a problem with the integrity of his character on the time-jumping NBC drama.
“I can understand that it’s shocking, and that it might be a little hard to understand. But it’s also a logistical thing,” Chris explained.
“You have to understand that this show jumps back and forth through time, and Toby wasn’t always this size, and who knows, maybe they need me to look this way at one point. Maybe we change the size of him. There’s some stagecraft involved.”
Viewers were in the dark about Sullivan’s real-life physique until his This Is Us co-star Susan Kelechi-Watson spilled the beans to Us Weekly at a press event earlier this year. Because Toby’s weight struggles are a big part of his storyline with Kate, some fans were put off by the fact that Sullivan wasn’t experiencing those struggles in real life, especially since Metz had revealed she is contractually obligated to lose weight for her role. (The actress later clarified those remarks.)
— JAM (@jamjamtv) January 11, 2017
Chrissy Metz previously revealed that This Is Us producers screen tested a lot of big men before hiring Chris Sullivan, but that he was ultimately the best man for the role. Metz also pointed out that Sullivan isn’t the only actor to use prosthetics for an acting role.
Chris Sullivan has a lot of experience using prosthetics and makeup. Sullivan recently told Entertainment Weekly that he spent hours in the makeup chair to transform into the alien character Taserface for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel.
“The makeup process started off at about three-and-a-half hours and we whittled it down to about two-and-a-half, as the makeup team got more and more practiced at it,” Chris told EW. “It was quite involved.”
— Heroic Hollywood (@heroichollywood) April 22, 2017
Sullivan also added that he was blown away when he first saw his alien transformation.
“I said…I guess I’m going to have to talk differently!” Sullivan revealed. “The voice that I had prepared was not quite alien enough to match the makeup, so I made a couple of adjustments.”
While his use of prosthetics on This Is Us may be controversial, Chris Sullivan knows all about getting into character. In an interview with PopSugar, Chris also spoke about Toby’s behavior, which some viewers deem as a little too pushy.
“I think regardless of whether or not he pushes things too far sometimes, or makes an inappropriate joke, that you’re getting an honest person behaving in a way that is real, and that is surface-level,” Chris said. “Even though it might be divisive for some people, it is what it is.”
Take a look at the video below to see Chris Sullivan as Toby in This Is Us.
[Featured Image by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney]