It was about five or six episodes into the debut season of “This Is Us” when star Chrissy Metz had an inkling that the show was popular.
She had been wandering through Target when she noticed a woman following her around the store.
“I was like, ‘Does she need help?’ or ‘Does she think I work here?’ ‘Am I wearing red?’” Metz recalled while visiting The Times’ video studio this week. “It was around that time where I realized that people were really taking notice — to the characters and to the story lines and to me... I don’t think you can ever prepare for it.”
On the series, Metz plays the adult Kate, one of three children in the time-jumping family drama. Over the course of the first season, Kate dealt with body-image issues, relationship drama and the ongoing grief over the death of her father.
The series quickly emerged as the breakout hit of the 2016-17 season. It has already been renewed for two additional seasons and has nabbed the plum post-Super Bowl slot in 2018.
Quite the turn of events for Metz, who spent much of her time in L.A. as an assistant to her manager and, later, her agent — with acting taking the backseat. She was preparing to move home to Florida after a stint on “American Horror Story: Freak Show” as Ima “Fat Lady” Wiggles hadn’t led to any major auditions.
“I thought the universe was helping me out — what’s happening here?” Metz says of her time on the FX anthology drama. “I mean, I’ve been here for 12 years now and I was like, ‘OK … time is about to be up.’ And, luckily, ‘This Is Us’ came about.”
And now Metz can’t go to a public restroom without fans stopping to talk to her about the effect the show has had on them.
“It happens so frequently that it’s not awkward,” Metz says of the toilet-adjacent encounters. “I’ve had a woman hand off her grandchild to me in a bathroom. I’ve cried with women in the bathroom.”
Watch the full conversation below: