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This Is Us’ Chris Geere Reveals ‘Huge Challenge’ Of Playing A Villain In The Final Season

Chris Geere plays Phillip on This Is Us.
(Image credit: NBC)

In the biggest twist of Season 5 — and arguably one of the most unexpected moments since the time-traveling revelation of the series’ premiereThis Is Us fans learned that the NBC drama's final season will see not only the demise of Kate and Toby’s marriage, but Kate’s getting remarried to Phillip, the music teacher she works with at her son Jack's school. If fans were hurt and confused by how Kate and Phillip’s tumultuous-at-best relationship turned into love, just imagine the journey Chris Geere, the actor who plays Phillip, is on. 

Chris Geere knew that by taking the role of Phillip, he would eventually be drawing the ire of a Toby-loyal This Is Us fandom. But the challenge of turning from villain to Mr. Right for one of the Big Three was enticing to Geere, as well as working with Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate. Geere told EW the role reminded him of the pantomimes in England, where there’s a villain who all the children boo whenever he’s on stage:

That's what I felt like: 'Oh, I'm the guy that everyone will boo at for a while.' But as an actor, it's a huge challenge to turn that around. I have 18 episodes of TV to go from a really icy, cold, mean-ass music guy who's belligerent and hostile and ridiculous to the guy that one of the lead characters falls in love with. That, for me, is huge challenge. So, I'm just enjoying the journey. Chrissy is just marvelous to work with. She's a lovely person. I'm here for the ride and I'm enjoying it.

I, for one, am super interested to watch Phillip’s character arc and see how he’s able to win Kate (and This Is Us fans) over. I’m equally distressed about witnessing the end of Kate and Toby’s marriage, though.

Kate and Toby have been a whole thing since the beginning of the series. Fans have watched them overcome serious issues, including depression, infertility and joblessness, to name a few. We knew from flash-forwards of Toby without his wedding ring that he and Kate would split up at some point, but that was painful enough to try to digest by itself. And I doubt many fans had thought far enough down the line to imagine her remarrying.

What viewers have seen of Phillip so far hasn’t been great. He made it clear he didn’t want to hire Kate to teach at the school, and Chris Geere acknowledges that there’s been some damage done in his life that Kate’s going to have to break through to find the person in there who she’ll fall in love with:

There's a phrase that 'Hurt people hurt people,' and he's damaged. It’s a combination of previous relationships, current state of the world and his obnoxious views. He's a miserable person, but I think he's a really nice person underneath. Chipping away at those things is going to be super fun.

Super fun is one way to put it! Other phrases that the This Is Us actors have used to describe what fans can expect in its sixth and final season include “incredibly devastated,” “saddest moments,” and “ugly crying.” I honestly can’t wait. The final chapter of the Pearsons’ story begins at 9 p.m. ET, Tuesday, January 4, on NBC. Check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other shows are premiering this month.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.