“Beth is okay,” Susan Kelechi Watson assures us of her character, Beth Pearson, following the Season 5 finale of “This is Us.” Fans were rattled to see Beth’s sister-in-law Kate (Chrissy Metz) marrying her boss Phillip (Chris Geere) in the season’s last episode. “We are five years ahead, which is fun to play because we age up and things have changed.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“This is Us” will be ending its successful run on NBC with Season 6. “There is something to knowing when you’ve told the story,” Watson says. “That has always been Dan [Fogelman]’s main goal. We’ve spanned generations and the goal of the show was to tell this family’s story authentically. To see where they came from and to find out where they’re going. The story started with Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and it ends with Rebecca. I know Dan has had the ending in his mind since Season 1.”
The series has been both a ratings success and awards darling for the network. Of all of the accolades, Watson recalls their first Screen Actors Guild Awards win for Best Ensemble in 2018 as the most memorable. “I’m a big ‘it’s great to be nominated’ person,” she admits. “To win was crazy. I just remember us knocking over chairs and things like that. I remember always saying to myself, growing up, two of the biggest awards for me were the SAG and the Tonys because I knew what went into choosing them was so much about what your peers think. And not for nothing, but we’re probably the hardest audience to please, actors.”
Watson particularly enjoyed Beth’s Season 5 storyline with her daughter Tess (Eris Baker), who recently came out to her family as a lesbian. “I loved being one of the parents who doesn’t know what to do,” she explains. “I feel like we’re in an age where everybody wants to get it right so that everything stays PC, nobody’s feelings get hurt and say and do the right things. But it was interesting to play Beth in a way like, what if she really does not know what to do? The only thing that she’s really concerned with is that her daughter doesn’t feel like she’s treating her differently.”
The actress also worked as executive producer for the HBO variety special “Between the World and Me.” The special is based on Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ book of the same name and recounts the author’s experiences growing up in Baltimore’s inner city and his growing fear of daily violence against the Black community. It features readings from a star-studded cast including Oprah Winfrey, Mahershala Ali, Angela Bassett and Jharrel Jerome. “Kamilah Forbes had already staged this as a reading since 2018,” Watson explains. “Then I thought, what if we re-imagine this for streaming? So we can get it to a really large audience. We started brainstorming from there about how we can make this live on the screen.”
Watson also discusses her onscreen chemistry with “This is Us” costars Sterling K. Brown and Phylicia Rashad, how the pandemic hurt the theater community and her return to the stage in the William Shakespeare adaptation “Merry Wives.”
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