This Is Us' Chris Sullivan addresses the controversy over how he wears a fat suit to play Toby

By Julie Mazziotta
April 28, 2017 11:41 AM

This Is Us fans were shocked to find out that Chris Sullivan wears a fat suit to play Toby, but the actor emphasizes that it’s all part of acting.

Sullivan, 36, addressed the controversy on PEOPLE Now.

“You know, there are different requirements for an actor for different roles,” he says. “As you’ll find in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, I’m not actually a space alien. As you’ll find for Milo Ventimiglia, he’s not actually a father. And I think that if people actually had a problem with the way that I was representing this character, or had a problem with the integrity of the character, or the way I was treating this character, then I would really like to have a conversation.”

He adds that the fat suit he wears is a costume — much like the costumes all actors wear.

“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, and I think Chrissy [Metz] is too, and that’s another conversation that we had early on, about what do we want to say,” Sullivan continues. “What do we want to say about these characters, what do we want to say with these characters, what do we want to say through these characters.”

Chris Sullivan and Chrissy Metz on This Is Us
| Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

And the flexibility he has to either wear a fat suit or go without it helps the time-jumping show.

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“I can understand that it’s shocking, and that it might be a little hard to understand. But it’s also a logistical thing,” Sullivan says. “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.”

Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan
| Credit: Rex Shutterstock

His on-screen love, Kate, played by Metz, agrees with Sullivan.

“We tested a lot of gentlemen who were bigger, and I get it — people think the authenticity is kind of ruined by that. But Chris has been heavier, so I think he understands the plight of being overweight,” she said on Watch What Happens Live in February.

“Also he was just the best man for the job. And people wear prosthetics all the time — it’s just weight as opposed to, like, a nose or a chin,” she continued, adding, “It’s just kind of the name of the game.”