Chris Sullivan's Use of Fat Suit for Playing Toby in 'This Is Us' Angered Some Fans
The NBC TV series This Is Us managed to garner a slew of global fans in its five-season run. The show's fans are amazed by how the creators and writers have worked out the storyline of every character, especially Toby Damon—portrayed by actor Chris Sullivan.
However, the show and Sullivan received a lot of backlashes in early-2017. The negative feedback came after Sullivan’s co-star, Susan Kelechi Watson, revealed that the actor used a ‘fat suit’ to make his character, Damon, look fat in the show.
The revelation made several fans angry, leading them to their Twitter handles, where they voiced their disappointment. For instance, on February 7, 2017, a Twitter user wrote:
I can't watch #ThisIsUs the same anymore now that I know that Toby is wearing a fat suit.
Similarly, another chimed, writing that she is outraged after knowing the truth. Her tweet read: "honestly pissed that the actor who plays toby on this is us wears a fat suit - how about some actual representation for plus-sized men?"
After receiving such backlash and seeing all the angry fans, it was time for the actor to address it. And, during an exclusive interview with People on April 28, 2017, he did just that.
During the interview, he first mentioned that an actor must fulfill different requirements for each role they play. He also said that if any person ever had an issue with how he portrayed or represented Damon's character, he would really like to have a chat with them.
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.
Thereafter, Sullivan continued stating that the fat suit he wore in This Is Us was just a costume, which he has done many times in his acting career. He also added that he was very proud of the job he had done with Damon's character, which his co-stars also agreed on.
Moreover, the actor further addressed that the revelation of him wearing a fat suit shocked most of the show’s fans. However, as the show went back and forth in time and Damon wasn’t over-sized all the time, wearing a fat suit was the most logical thing to do.
Apart from the actor’s statement, on February 17, 2017, his co-star, Chrissy Metz, also went all out and defended him during an exclusive talk on Watch What Happens Live. In the show, she told that the creators of This Is Us had screen-tested many other over-sized actors to portray Damon; however, Sullivan was the best one for it.
Chris Sullivan and Chrissy Metz on the show This Is Us. (Photo: People)
She also addressed the fans’ anger and mentioned that she understood that authenticity was ruined by wearing a fat suit. That being said, Sullivan was also over-sized in the past, and he knew how it feels to be one, which made him perfect for the role.
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. Also, he was just the best man for the job.
Following such statements from two of the show's lead actors, the angered fans understood the full context behind Sullivan wearing a fat suit. Since then, everything went well for the actor, and the show continued to run successfully.