On the first episode of This Is Us, Justin Hartley’s character, Kevin, walks off the set of his fictional sitcom, The Manny – but Justin, 39, tells Hello! he loves going to work each day.
“It’s an honour to be part of, really,” he says of his role on the new hit drama. The story of the Pearson family unfolds in pieces and flashbacks. “Then you see it and think, ‘This is so cool! It all works together,’” says Justin.
When the Illinois-born actor isn’t on the L.A. set with co-stars Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz and Sterling K. Brown, he’s spending time with his fiancée, actress Chrishell Stause, 35, and his daughter Isabella, 12. Here, Justin explains why his latest part has made him a voracious reader – and a cool dad.
We meet your character on his 36th birthday. Do you recall that day in your own life? I think the significance of that birthday is not necessarily the year, but where you are in life when you’re winding down your thirties. Gosh, in my case I had been married, divorced, had a kid. I’d had people close to me pass away and I’d figured out that I need to take better care of myself. If I look back 10 years, I don’t even recognize that guy. I think it’s interesting how many incarnations of yourself you live in a lifetime.
Kevin has moved from L.A. to the East Coast. What’s next for him? He’s always lived in this bubble. It’s his first time without his sister, so it will be difficult figuring out how to do things on his own. He’s going to reconnect with his brother, Randall, to fix that relationship a little bit. Comedy and heartbreak ensue.
The show’s already had several shocking twists. Are you as surprised by them as fans are? Yeah! Now I’m curious. I want to know the story, I want to know how things happen. I’m really interested. Life is an interesting thing. If you take a slice of it and look closely, you’re probably going to draw some conclusions that aren’t true. You believe what you want to believe.
How would you describe your on-screen parents Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia? Mandy is loveable, smart and a wonderful actress. Her smile lights up a room! And Mile is salt of the earth. He's the nicest human being.
What kind of responses have you been hearing from viewers? It’s pretty cool! I was walking down the street today and there was an armed bodyguard who said, “Hey! The Manny!” It’s so funny. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, you’re going to connect with multiple storylines.
Is your daughter interested in it? She watches it, and so do her friends. She’s 12 now, and for the first time in a long time, she said, “Dad, tomorrow when you pick me up from school, maybe park the car and walk in.” I thought, “Oh, OK, I’m cool again. I see what’s up.”
Do you feel like fans have followed you from show to show? I’ve been fortunate enough to pop up on different shows like Mistresses, Revenge and Smallville. There are people who have followed me and people who think, “Who’s this new guy?” It’s also cool because they have no preconceived notions of you. I also have a lot of soap fans, and they’re the most loyal fan base in the world.