Season 4 of This Is Us is already shaping up to be an important one for Chris Sullivan‘s character, Toby Damon. While coping with the news that his newborn son, Jack, is visually impaired, Toby has been secretly heading to the gym and losing weight. This is after years of struggling with his health and having a heart attack in season one of the series.
At the end of a teaser for episode 3 of season 4, we see Toby take off his shirt in front of his wife, Kate, who is shocked to see her husband’s toned figure. Like Kate, fans of the show were equally surprised. “Seeing Toby in that next week episode all jacked and even I went holy crap,” one fan tweeted.”Toby??????? In the best way possible, WOW!” another wrote.
While it might be a huge transformation for Toby, it’s important to remember that Chris wore a “fat suit” in the first few seasons of the show. The revelation that Chris was using a costume for his role sparked immediate backlash back in 2017. Many This Is Us fans thought the show should’ve chosen a different actor for the part instead of relying on a costume and prosthetics to make Chris look bigger. Why? Some felt that “hiring someone to pretend to be overweight” doesn’t do “plus-size actors justice” and feels “disrespectful to the story This Is Us is trying to tell about one’s struggle with weight.”
Chris addresses the “fat-suit” controversy
In Chris’s opinion though, there are a lot of other things to be “outraged about these days” besides “an actor on a television show who may be wearing a costume that makes him larger than he is.”
“If I am not portraying Toby with a level of integrity or honesty — [if] you disagree with [that], I would be happy to talk about that,” he previously said on the Today show. “But I think that regardless of the costumes that I wear, especially with Toby, I try to bring as much heart and honesty as I can.”
Way before Toby’s season 4 storyline came to be, Chrissy Metz revealed to Cosmopolitan that Chris had been “heavier” before and therefore “understands the plight of being overweight.”
“We tested a lot of gentlemen who were bigger, and I get it — people think the authenticity is kind of ruined by that,” she told the magazine. “[But] 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 … It’s just kind of the name of the game.”
Where Toby’s weight-loss storyline will go next in season 4
Looking ahead, This Is Us co–showrunner Isaac Aptaker made it clear to Entertainment Weekly that the show doesn’t intend on being “obsessive” about Toby’s weight loss.
“He’s a guy … who’s had significant mental health problems and struggled with clinical depression,” Isaac explained. “And now he’s faced with this massive curveball finding out his son is blind, and he’s found an outlet for himself for all that anxiety, for all of that pain, and that is at the CrossFit gym.”
But keeping his gym visits a secret from Kate, who has been overeating while caring for baby Jack, will likely lead to problems for the couple.
“[Kate’s] breastfeeding, she’s tending to an infant around the clock, she’s not at a place in her life where she is necessarily most suited to being on a strict diet or on a strict weight-loss plan,” Isaac noted. “But Toby has found this path that’s working for him, and because he doesn’t want to rub it in her face he’s making the choice to keep it a secret. That’s dangerous in any relationship, keeping secrets like that.”