Chris Sullivan remembers clearly the moment when he became an actor for life. After the Sacramento-bred performer had enjoyed a string of high-profile theater gigs on Broadway and in Chicago, he faced an unexpected, nerve-jangling employment slowdown—one that had him weighing his professional options.
“Things started to get a little scary,” Sullivan admits, recalling a rainy Sunday morning walk down a Windy City street. “The rain was just stopping when—I’m not kidding—the clouds parted, the sun came through and I had just this amazing revelation, this feeling of peace about the path I was on.”
His commitment paid off, eventually leading him to This Is Us, where his charismatic, layered performance as Toby Damon catapulted him to TV stardom on the family drama, now in its fourth season. “Toby’s an extremely honest person,” Sullivan says. “He’s an extremely complicated person who experiences a lot of heartache and a lot of anxiety and depression. He deals with those things in ways that people relate to. Toby’s probably the closest I’ve ever played to myself.”
Now Sullivan’s stretching his talents in more directions—his band, Joseph the Spouse, has an album coming out in 2020, and he co-hosts the joy driven podcast In Love with Michael Rosenbaum and the once-vagabond actor is happy to be (mostly) rooted in LA with his wife, producer Rachel Reichard. “Living out of a suitcase and bouncing all over the place was good from 20 to 30; now, I actually enjoy it for about two weeks, and ‘time to get home,’” he says, chuckling. “We know we’re not going to have to pack up and run.”