Justin Hartley Teases 'Incestuous' Emily Owens Triangles, Talks Of Shedding the 'Suit and Cape'

Emily Owens MD Mamie Gummer Justin HartleyEmily Owens, M.D. has a crush. Unfortunately, the object of her affection, best friend Will, is just not that into her, which makes things a little awkward in tonight’s episode of the rookie dramedy (The CW, 9/8c). But might he have a change of heart?

Below, Justin Hartley reveals Will’s true feelings for Emily, teases his character’s “heartbreaking” secret, and opens up about the big career dilemma he faced after Smallville.

RELATED | Arrow Scores Full Season From CW! Plus: More Scripts For Emily Owens, Beauty and the Beast

TVLINE | How are you adjusting from playing a superhero to playing another type of superhero, a doctor?
I’m adjusting well. The lab coat is more like a cape than the suit was, I guess. It’s definitely more comfortable. It’s all good. Sometimes, it’s hard to get away from the suit and the cape and all that kind of stuff. It follows you around forever. I was lucky enough to get this right away and be able to move on.

TVLINE | If people had to guess what kind of show you’d do after Smallville ended, they probably would have said something genre or a heavy drama. So what was it about Emily Owens, M.D., that attracted you?
I had a long conversation with my agent about it. I had two options: I was either going to take a little break or I was going to start working right away. That lasted about 24 hours and then I came up with the conclusion that I wanted to work right away. I didn’t want to take a break. When I finally decided that I was going to go [in] head first again – it takes a lot of energy, you know? – I wanted to make sure I had something that had a dramatic element. I really enjoy that aspect of acting. But it was really, really important to me to have some comedy in there. This fits the bill in all regards. We’re cracking [up] all the time. Mamie [Gummer is] really funny. I hope I’m funny on it. It’s interesting because in the pilot, Will’s not really funny. Episode 2, you start to see he’s got a bright sense of humor. He’s a funny guy. He gets a kick out of life. You learn a lot more about him as the series progresses.

TVLINE | How are things between Will and Emily after her big confession of love?
It’s a little bit awkward. … They can’t really date, but can they be best friends still? Did he just lose his best friend? And now they’re both walking around lost. They can’t lean on each other. They’ve depended on each for so many things for so many years, and now they just have to avoid each other. And what’s really, really cool [is] it gets addressed right away [in this week’s episode]. Will stops Emily in the hallway and is like, “Wait a second. We need to talk about this.” There’s a crisis that happens in Emily’s life. Will finds out about it and wants to be there for her and thinks that he can’t because of what happened, and then she sort of says, “Come here.”  They fall back into where they were with this new, more complex element. And now that it’s brought to Will’s attention the way Emily feels, he starts to consider it. Maybe it came off wrong that he wasn’t into her. He just hadn’t considered it. Now it’s been put in his brain. He’s like, “Oh, wait a minute…”

TVLINE | Are there moments where he stops and rethinks his feelings about her?
There are. In [tonight’s] episode, there’s one in particular. He catches himself doing that. I don’t think he intentionally stops and reconsiders. He catches himself, if not falling, certainly stumbling or tripping in that direction and wondering what that’s all about.

RELATED | Supernatural Vet Samantha Ferris Lawyers Up for Emily Owens

TVLINE | Have they always been just strictly friends in the past?
Depends on who you ask, I guess. According to Will, yes. Will’s been oblivious to this whole thing. There is a moment that you realize, “This woman has feelings for this guy, great. But it’s not like he led her on. So what’s her problem? She’s got to get over this dude.” Then there’s this thing that you realize happened in their past and you go, “Oh, that’s why! Oh, s–t, so he did do that.” But people do silly things when they’re drunk, right? It’s one of those situations, which lends itself to a lot of drama and a lot of awkward, funny comedy, which we love.

Emily Owens MDTVLINE | Will things heat up between him and Casandra in the meantime?
They certainly have a liking for one other. She’s fun, smart and cute. She’s got a snappy wit about her. She’s got an edge, and Will really likes that. He enjoys being around her and likes her company, and they make each other laugh. It’s safe to say that things will heat up in every direction – not that we become a bunch of whores. [Laughs] You have your really nice, sink-your-teeth-into TV triangle intermixed with another triangle. TV’s incestuous, isn’t it? I remember when I was on Passions, I was like, “Why is everybody having sex?” It’s unbelievable! Before you know it, we’re all going to be related here.

TVLINE | Speaking of love triangles, what does Will make of Micah, who unbeknownst to Will is sort of his competition?
Will thinks Micah’s sexy. He looks good in his scrubs. And I like that he shaves his chest. [Laughs] No, I don’t know. I don’t think that he thinks much of him yet. He looks at him as his boss and a guy that he works with.

TVLINE | The pilot was about setting up Emily’s world. What’s ahead for Will, specifically?
He’s got some skeletons in the closet. Later on, you realize the real reason why he’s there practicing medicine. It’s heartbreaking and then it all makes sense and you go, “Oh, this poor guy.” But he’s not a woe-is-me kind of guy. He’s a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps-and-go kind of guy. He’s a man’s man. I like that.