This Is Us' Caitlin Thompson Talks 'Winning Over' Team Sophie Fans as One of Kevin's Exes Returns
"For those that you win over, you win over. And for those you don't, I respect them too," Caitlin Thompson tells PEOPLE about fan reactions to her character Madison's relationship with Kevin
This Is Us fans will be seeing more of Madison.
Caitlin Thompson's character has greatly evolved since she introduced herself to Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) at a meeting of people recovering from compulsive eating and food behaviors. Throughout seasons 4 and 5, viewers have watched Madison become the mother of twins Nicholas and Frances, whom she shares with fiancé Kevin (Justin Hartley), and a prominent figure in the Pearson household.
As audiences saw in the recent episode, titled "The Music and the Mirror," Kevin is keeping his bride-to-be and their babies in mind as he navigates the next moves in his acting career while Madison is busy planning their wedding and taking care of their kids.
Below, Thompson, 33, tells PEOPLE about Madison's growth on This Is Us and how she's aware that many viewers may still be holding out hope for a reunion between Kevin and his childhood sweetheart, Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge). And, as Thompson explains, there's more of Madison to learn about and love.
Did you know that your role as Madison would evolve so much from season 1 to now?
It's definitely evolved beyond what I expected, but for the first season it was just little pops into the Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Then she kind of evolved into Kate's best friend, and then from there it's just kept going, but I definitely in the beginning had no idea that it would be what it is today.
Would you ever have imagined this fleshed-out storyline for Madison and who she is becoming?
No, I really didn't, but I feel so lucky that it's evolved in that. As an actor, you do your own homework to fill in the gaps that aren't in the script. So I had my own idea and then as the scripts evolved and I saw more and, I kind of plugged in the new information, but no. I'm thrilled that I get to do this, but I didn't imagine that it would become this. And so it's cool. It's a great opportunity to be able to flesh out a character more. And I think audiences have been wanting it. They're kind of like, "Who is this girl? I don't really get her." So I was like, just be patient and you'll learn more about her.
Audiences saw Kevin's first love story with his childhood girlfriend and ex-fiancée Sophie. For those fans who may just be warming up to the idea of Kevin and Madison, what would you tell them?
I know, I have to bring them over. I try to stay off Twitter 'cause I see people being very opinionated, which I get and I love it. I think that's what you kind of want is you want people to be invested. Whether they're for your character with Kevin or they're against it, it's just cool for me that people are there to give it a shot and they're invested enough in the story to have an opinion. So I think they've given her a chance and for those that you win over, you win over and for those you don't, I respect them too.
In a recent episode, there were those quick cuts of Kevin's exes looking at the news of Kevin and Madison's engagement on the front page of a tabloid magazine. Everyone was wondering, what does this mean? Then his ex Zoe returned in last night's episode. What do you think of those ex-girlfriend cameos?
I think what the show does so well is that nothing is in vain. Everything has a purpose. And so if they give something screen time, then there's maybe not what you expect it to mean, but there's a purpose for it. So yeah, I think everything's evolving in the storyline. Obviously I can't give away too much, but I think everything that is shown on the show has a purpose in one way or another. That's what the show does so well.
Madison had a completely different childhood than Kevin and Kate. She had an eating disorder and has an estranged relationship with her father. Will audiences get to see an episode about Madison's backstory?
I think [the showrunners and writers] hinted it at stuff, but it's been very vague and not really talked about. I think it's a big piece that people are kind of missing, maybe, in a way of connecting with her like they have been with other family members. But yeah, they will be able to see more of her story and explain where she came from and how that has affected where she's at today, which is cool.
You and your husband, show creator Dan Fogelman, welcomed a son before the COVID-19 lockdown. How has parenthood been during the pandemic?
I have a full quarantine baby, I take him outside and he's like, "What is this light?" But yeah, I was pregnant when the quarantine started, we locked down early because it was March. We didn't know what this was and we were kind of freaked out. So we just locked down and stayed that way. But it's interesting, I had all this time with him and I've had a lot of people say, "Is it going by so fast?" And it is, but in another way, I feel like I'm actually present for so many things. And I haven't missed a lot of things. I wonder if the world was opened up at this time, would I have not been there for his first time crawling or the first time he ate something? So it's been nice in a lot of ways just to have that focus time at home and to be with him was great.
Do you and Dan talk about the show at home? Or partner on ideas for the show?
I don't partner. He doesn't want my input. He'll bounce ideas or we are live, eat, breathing the Pearson's at this point. I feel like I know them better than my own family in a lot of ways. But yeah, it's fun. I think, when I wasn't in the show as much, I didn't want to know because I wanted to watch it as a fan. And I was like, "Well, I don't need to really know all this so just don't say anything." But now he's working from home, so I can't help it if I overhear things. It's a lot of fun, I think it's great. It's a great show to live in the world of, so I feel lucky that I get to be fully immersed in it.
For those who are Team Madison fans, what would you say to them as season 5 will soon come to its end?
I think for the fans of hers, I just hope that they get what they've been wanting and to learn more about her. I think that it'll be really fulfilling for people and maybe win over some people. I don't know, I'll try.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.
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