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Award-Winning Actress Chrissy Metz Shines in Breakthrough Movie

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

Chrissy Metz has had a fair amount of success in Hollywood since breaking onto the scene in 2016. Best known for her role as Kate in the hit NBC series This is Us, the Gainesville, Florida native is far from an overnight sensation. In fact, Metz earned her first onscreen credit in 2005 but struggled to gain a foothold in television for the better part of a decade.

On This is Us, Metz plays a woman struggling with her weight, eating habits, and self body image. Her work has not gone unnoticed, as she has earned several accolades including two Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy Award nod.

Now comes her first starring role in the new movie, Breakthrough. Based on the amazing true story of a mother refusing to give up on her son despite seemingly insurmountable medical odds, Metz shines as Joyce Smith, a woman who serves as an incredible reminder that all things are possible through faith in God.

I recently spoke to the humble, sweet-spirited Metz about what drew her to the role in Breakthrough, the significance of being willing to forgive, and why it is important to remember that everyone has a purpose in life.

You are currently a highly sought after actress in Hollywood due to your success with This is Us. What attracted you the role of playing Joyce Smith in the new faith-based movie Breakthrough?

I want to keep a personal connection with my mother who went through a medical emergency in her life. This was happening prior to even knowing I was going to be in the movie. The words I said to my mother were almost verbatim to what Joyce said to John’s (Smith) doctors. We realized that in a meeting. I didn't know I was having a meeting for the movie. I thought it was just a general meeting with the executives. We all sort of just sat there for a second and they looked at each other and I was like, “No, no, it’s okay.” Something sort of connected in that moment. Then, when I was having a chance to read the script, I was wondering if it was already written when we met? He’s like, ‘You're doing a great read.’ I thought, “Okay, this is crazy.” I sent this (the script) to my own mother's doctor. But the message of the movie, this unconditional love, the sense of community, the hope, the inspiration and learning how to just live on life's terms is really tricky. It just made sense for me. It’s something I wanted to do, which is a big key for me in the movies.

I’m glad you mentioned that. For me, there is one major theme in the movie that seems to come up over and over again with several of the characters. What are your thoughts on forgiveness in the movie?

There is so much forgiveness on so many different levels, for Joyce, for John, for Brian (Smith), and everyone. I've had to do a lot of forgiveness myself in my own life. I had a pretty tumultuous childhood with my biological father and my stepfather. I realized that holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to be sick. And I realized that it's not serving me. I think that's what John and Joyce and everyone in this film particularly knew. There's no point in holding onto a grudge or resentment because most of it is probably just a misunderstanding. Some people do treat you poorly but I believe that if you accept responsibility for your actions, if people knew better, they would do better. That's what mercy is for, right? It’s for the people who don't really deserve it or we don't think they deserve it. They are the ones who need it the most. That's such a beautiful thought.

There's such a difference between your character on This is Us and Joyce Smith. But I think you did such a good job in this movie of separating yourself from the role people know you for. Was that a hard transition for you in the acting process?

What a nice, incredible compliment that I would never have expected. My hope for this role is that people would ultimately see the joy in Joyce. Luckily I've had a chance to play Kate for three seasons now, so hopefully she's different. I'm so happy that our director Roxanne Dawson observed that. How do you make that difference? How do you define the difference between one role and another? Of course it’s what's on the page, but there are so many similarities, but there also are so many differences. I prepared very differently. I think it's very distinct. It's not that I prepare in a different way as much as I think about the motivation of each character and their intentions, who they are, who they want to be, all of those things.

A lot of that is on the page in the script. With mannerisms, obviously I tried to capture Joyce's essence. With Kate I got to create her, so that's kind of helpful sometimes. I think every character is so distinct that I try to separate them. While you're playing the role you become this person and then you can switch it. I think that comes with preparation of course, to know the intention of the scene, it’s where you need to really break it down. For me, that is a process that sometimes happens line per line. Otherwise it can seem insurmountable. You sometimes think, “Oh, I'm never going to get it right.” So much of it is just being present. Each of these characters have different journeys so that helps.

I've always wanted to tell so many different stories because there's so much we can learn from them. I'm just so grateful that I've had the chance to. I'm still learning how to because I definitely don't have it figured out, that's for sure.

You have a remarkable story of how you got the part for This is Us. Could you share it with our audience?

I’m from a small town. My sister heard about an open casting call on the radio and she asked me to take her and her best friend. It was an open call and this woman sitting across from me had his weird hat on. She said to me, ‘You know I taught at your high school.’ I'm like, ‘Who is this crazy lady?’ I was filling out the information for my sister. And she says, ‘You're not auditioning?’ And I said, “No.” And she's asked, ‘Why? You're here for a reason.’ And I'm like, “Okay. Whatever.” And I remember going in with my sister to audition and then we came out of the room. We were about to go and I looked for the lady. She was gone. Gone. And I was like, “Where's the lady in the hat?” Everyone's responding and saying, ‘What hat?’ And I'm like, “You guys are playing with me. Don't play with me.” And they're like, ‘No.’ And so then the talent scout comes out and says, ‘Oh, I met your sister. Are you the guardian?’ I said, “Yeah, I'm just her older sister.” She said, ‘So, you don't act or sing?’ And I said, “No.” And she's like, ‘Really? You don't want audition?’ And I'm like, “Look, I don't sing.’ My sister all the sudden says, ‘Yes you do. Yes you do.’

And in my heart I always wanted to do it. But I was so afraid of my own shadow, I couldn't even think about that. So, to make a long story short, she ended up signing me. We ended up preparing for a showcase and I found an agent. Then moved to Los Angeles. I don't know how to explain that. How does someone go from an open call in Gainesville, Florida at Holiday Inn to all of this? These types of things are not lost on me.

Breakthrough seems to have so many positive messages. What are some of the leading themes that people will be able to take away with them through the viewing experience?

It’s definitely that we all are purposeful. Anyone who is born has a purpose. To be born is an absolute miracle that we sort of take for granted. We're like, ‘Oh, we had a baby. How cute. We had a baby shower.’ But for everything to happen, for the parents to have been born where they're born, to have met, to actually conceiving, to actually carrying the baby and then having the baby … I can't even wrap my head around that.

It's an absolute miracle. If there's a reason that all of those things have to happen for you to be on this planet of existence, there's a reason for that. You have a purpose and you are loved so much. And that to me is like, “Whoa.” You could talk about that for hours. I hope that's what people take away from this movie. We're stronger together than we are apart. There are all of these people on this planet to learn from, to teach, to grow and to evolve with each other. Otherwise, there would be one person on the planet. There's a reason why we all look different and come from different backgrounds. We're all here to teach each other and whether it's empathy, tolerance, or self-love. But we need to impart that on other people.

Breakthrough opens in theaters nationwide on April 17th.

Watch a trailer for Chrissy Metz's new motion picture Breakthrough:

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