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Teenage Kate Admits There’s a ‘Puzzle’ Behind the Family Dog on ‘This Is Us’

Hannah Zeile as Kate on ‘This Is Us’
Hannah Zeile as Kate on ‘This Is Us’ Ron Batzdorff/NBC

On This is Us, Kate is going through a whirlwind of emotions, something that’s been going on since she was a kid. Ultimately, it comes back to her relationship with her mother. Hannah Zeile, who plays teen Kate, detailed the complicated mother-daughter bond in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly.

Rebecca (Mandy Moore) butts head with both younger Kate (Mackenzie Hancsicsak) as well as adult Kate (Chrissy Metz) about their weight, but viewers haven’t yet seen teenage Kate and Rebecca approach that topic.

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Milo Ventimiglia This Is Us
Hannah Zeile as Kate, Niles Fitch as Randall, Logan Shroyer as Kevin and Milo Ventimiglia as Jack on ‘This Is Us‘ Ron Batzdorff/NBC

“She has issues with her mom because of it, because she makes her feel inadequate and makes her feel self conscious about herself,” the actress, 19, tells Us. “With teen Kate right now, it’s a lot about her relationships with her parents.”

Read the rest of her Q&A below:

Us Weekly: This show has BLOWN up. How has that been for you?
Hannah Zeile: It’s been a whirlwind situation. There hasn’t been time to process it. I was a recurring guest star in season one. That was already so cool but to be picked up as a season regular and be fully in this family, it’s crazy.

Us: What’s the bond like with you, Milo Ventimiglia & Mandy.
HZ: It’s been really cool. Milo and Mandy playing my mom and dad, it’s obviously important to have a good chemistry and a good bond with them. They make it so easy. They’re just really kind and really welcoming. They give so much of themselves. They never hold back. They’re always going 100 percent and bringing you to a new level and making it easy to connect with them.

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Us: You have an advantage getting to work with the adult and younger version of your characters.
HZ: When you’re getting into a character, you’re creating their background or their childhood, or you’re trying to create their timeline and their life. Dan Fogelman and the writers have literally written it out and I’ve gotten to watch it on-screen. Chrissy is so talented, so I’m so honored to share this role with her. I have big shoes to fill/ I always am just trying to make teen Kate my own and really bring something cool to the character as well.

Us: How do you deal with keeping secrets — do you tell your family?
HZ: I feel so prideful that I even know them! Even with my family, I’m like ‘No, sorry!’ I feel so awesome to know the secret. Even when I get asked, I’m telling Dan and everyone, ‘Don’t worry. I don’t want to tell because I feel so awesome that I know!’ I’m like, ‘I’m gonna hold on to these!’ Even when the secret is out, I’m gonna be like, ‘I already knew, so!’

Us: We see young Kate and adult Kate struggling with weight but haven’t really seen it with teen Kate. Will we?
HZ: To be honest, I am always ready for anything with this show. The writers will come with stuff and it’s sometimes not expected. I’m not exactly sure. Teenage Kate feels that. She has issues with her mom because of it, because she makes her feel inadequate and makes her feel self conscious about herself. With teen Kate right now, it’s a lot about her relationships with her parents.

Us: We know about the fire and how the family found the dog. Is it Kate’s dog?
HZ: You’re going to start to see, piece by piece. We’re just creating the full puzzle, it’s all going to unfold.

Us: What’s her relationship like with her brothers at that age?
HZ: Hardship brings people together. At the end of season 1, we left off with Jack and Rebecca having their huge fight and that was the first time the big three had seen anything like that because they’d only seen the healthy marriage with their parents. I feel like that brought them together. The writers do a great job of showing how becoming closer in their teens, especially Kevin and Kate, carries on into their adult lives.

Us: How would you explain the emotions in the upcoming episodes?
HZ: I think that all of the episodes are pretty sad, but I think a lot of this seasons as it’s going to come, is hitting different emotions all at once. You’re gonna be sad, you’re gonna be confused, you’re gonna be surprised, you’re gonna be angry. You’re just going to be sitting at your TV having all the feels for sure.

Us: What other teenage girl issues will Kate be going through? Will we see her dating, etc.?
HZ: I’m wondering the same thing. Teenage Kate is kinda angsty, she’s kinda sassy and independent right now. I’m not really sure if she’s ready to bring anyone else into the mix. She’s on a bitter grind right now.

This is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.

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