This post contains spoilers from Tuesday’s This Is Us. Please proceed accordingly.
Well, mark off another This Is Us mystery as solved. And if the comments sections of our recaps are any indication, many of you are probably pretty pleased with the outcome.
Throughout the NBC drama’s run, anytime the question of with whom Kevin should end up arose, Sophie’s name — and along with it, portrayer Alexandra Breckenridge‘s — copiously and conspicuously filled our comments section.
“It seems like that’s the majority, that’s the reaction,” Breckenridge tells TVLine, chuckling. “I saw something somewhere, people were like ‘We’re not going to watch this show if they don’t end up together!'”
Well, now those people can breathe easy. In this week’s episode, Kevin and Sophie reunite romantically, two decades after their teenage union ended in heartache. The recoupling is facilitated by Kate and Philip’s wedding, which puts a recently divorced Sophie and a finally mature Kevin back into each other’s orbits. Conversations are had. A mid-makeout freakout occurs. And by the end of the hour, the pair have decided to be brave and make a go of it again, sealing the endeavor with a kiss in front of Kev’s entire family. (Read a full recap.)
We chatted with Breckenridge, who also stars in Netflix’s Virgin River, about playing the payoff to Kevin and Sophie’s looooong romantic arc. Read on for her thoughts — and to find out how much we’ll see her as the series approaches its May 24 finale.
TVLINE | We’ve got a sense of how much Kevin has been thinking about Sophie over the years. Do you think she’s at the same level, in terms of how much he’s been on her mind in the years since they were together?
Oh my gosh. Absolutely. As she says in an episode, it’s that kind of love that you can’t walk away from in your heart. It just stays with you. They both tried to move on from each other in different iterations. Obviously, him with Madison, and she got married to Grant, but she was trying for stability. Sophie really wanted to be with somebody that was going to show up for her, whereas Kevin, historically, has been quite self-centered and not been able to show up for her. She found that in Grant, but she unfortunately just wasn’t in love with him. She was in love with Kevin. So, I think that’s kind of where she’s at. When we enter the episode, I think she’s walking in there really hoping. Even though Kevin’s broken her heart twice, she’s still hoping that maybe… and obviously, he is too.
Even though he thinks she’s married at the beginning. I’m really happy that they were able to find their way back to each other, and that this time it made sense in a way that I think is sustainable.
TVLINE | There are a lot of long, longing glances between you and Justin Hartley in the episode. How much was scripted, how much comes out of your working history? And does it ever fall apart, do you start laughing?
We definitely giggle a lot. [Laughs] I mean, he’s very funny, and it’s hard not to laugh. When we’re in those moments, some of it is scripted, and some of it is in the directing. There’s a scene in this episode where we’re walking through a grocery store, and Justin was on fire. He was like, “You should just be putting all this random crap in your basket.” He’s like, “Just when you’re over here talking, just put a couple Band-Aids in there.” And I can’t explain how funny that was at the moment, but for some reason it was so, so, so funny that Sophie would just be grabbing a couple boxes of Band-Aids for no reason. So, as we’re doing this scene, I’m trying to do it with a straight face. And I just look at him, and he was looking at me, and then I pop a couple boxes of Band-Aids in the basket trying to break him so bad. [Laughs] We almost started laughing, but we made it through.
TVLINE | It felt significant to me that Rebecca recognizes Sophie, even at this stage of her dementia. It was a reminder that whatever Sophie is to Kevin, she’s also a touchstone in the Pearson family’s life. Talk to me about Sophie’s thoughts as Rebecca is talking to her.
She changes Sophie’s mind in that moment. Sophie doesn’t know what to do. She’s so torn. And Rebecca comes over with this sage wisdom that Rebecca doesn’t even know she has because to her she’s in the past. So really it’s almost like she’s seeing into the future, which is the present. It’s really wonderful, the way that they wrote that scene. Sophie has grown up with [Rebecca] as sort of a part of her extended family since she was little, obviously. So they have that familial thing, and I think it makes sense that Rebecca would recognize her. And yeah, it was a very important moment for Sophie to hear those words from Rebecca, because it solidified her next move.
TVLINE | Sophie’s speech toward the end of the episode is great. It’s one of the rare times a non-Pearson gets to direct the emotional flow!
You know, when I read the episode, when I break up the moment in the bedroom with Justin, I go off on this whole monologue. There was actually a lot more to the monologue at the time, but the part that they cut out made perfect sense in the flow of the show, and I’m actually glad that they took those scenes out. So, I have these two very meaningful powerful speeches that I had, and I was incredibly nervous about it, coming from an actor’s standpoint. To come back to a show… you know, I’m not on the show all the time. For all purposes I’m a guest star, and coming into a show that’s so extremely successful with all these actors that are incredibly talented, to be given this moment at the end of this episode which has been anticipated for so long, I was like, holy hell! [Laughs] I was like oh, s–t. What am I going to do? So I was excited and nervous and half terrified.
We did it several different ways. There were different iterations in tempo and overall tone of that moment, but they ultimately went with my first instinct, which I was so incredibly grateful for, and it just was like really validating when I watched the episode that they went with something that was how I saw it. It was huge for Sophie to come and say this after all this time, a huge place for her to get to with him. It was huge…
We did the scene, and then when we did the kiss part, that’s when everybody was standing there. At first, it was a little bit weird and awkward. Like everybody sort of filed in, and we looked over like, “Is this not bizarre, guys?” They’re just watching us kiss. The kids are there. We’re like oh, this is weird. But I think the way that it played, it was sweet. The whole family was kind of rooting for them to find their way back to each other. It was sweet.
TVLINE | So do you show up pretty regularly for the rest of the season?
I mean, Sophie doesn’t disappear. I’ll tell you that.
TVLINE | She’s not like, “I’ve got to go wrap things up in Berlin! I’ll see you in a few months!”
[Laughs] Yeah. The rest of it is they’re all FaceTime episodes. She’s just going to FaceTime with him, I guess. “I’ve got to go, honey. This guy is bleeding out. Sorry!” [Laughs]
TVLINE | Are any of the remaining episodes heavy on Kevin/Sophie?
There’s so few episodes after this one. Coming to Rebecca’s deathbed is a big deal. For Sophie, Beth, and Phillip, they’re the support system and the support team for the Pearson kids as they navigate this really tumultuous, horrific disease and their mother, who is such a huge figure in the family.
TVLINE | My final question: Did Kevin never give Sophie that Valentine? Why does he have it, when it was for her?
Well, he gives her the Valentine, and it says, “Will you be my Valentine? Circle yes or no.” So, she circled yes, and gives it back to him.
TVLINE | Oh.
TVLINE | I love that you had to explain elementary school Valentines to me.
[Laughs] Well, it’s something I hadn’t thought of. It just made sense. I didn’t even think about it, but what somebody said earlier was, like, has Kevin been carrying this in his wallet the entire time while he’s been dating other women? I was like that’s a really good question! [Laughs]