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This Is Us Justin Hartley Preview

This Is Us: Justin Hartley Offers Odds You'll Ugly-Cry ('For Sure'), Talks Sitcom Bonding With Alan Thicke

By the end of This Is Us‘ first episode, characters we’ve barely met (yet already care about) experience quite a few extremes of the human condition. There’s budding love. Sibling bonds. A terrible loss. A life-affirming reconnection.

And then there’s Kevin, a very attractive and often shirtless Los Angeles actor who’s unhappy that his lucrative sitcom role is a waste of his time, talent and purpose.

Smallville alum Justin Hartley plays Kevin, and he’s highly aware that his character’s woes may seem a trifle less relatable than, say, those of Chrissy Metz’s Kate (who’s battling obesity) or Sterling K. Brown’s Jack (who’s just found his birth father). “But being frustrated at work? Everyone has had that. Having that work frustration carry over to your personal life? Everyone has also had that,” Hartley says good-naturedly.

Add in that Kevin is feeling the pressures of age — the premiere takes place on his 36th birthday — in an industry obsessed with youth, and “it’s like this perfect storm,” adds the TV vet, who has had memorable roles on Passions, Revenge, Emily Owens, M.D. and most recently The Young and the Restless. “You have the age, unhappy at work and lonely at home. Really, the only thing he has in his life worth anything — besides a paycheck, but who really gives a damn about that? — is his sister [Kate].”

This Is Us - Season PilotThe premiere finds Hartley sharing a scene with Growing Pains dad Alan Thicke, who plays himself, as they prepare to tape an episode of Kevin’s show The Manny. (For spoiler reasons, we can’t tell you exactly what goes down. We can tell you that if ever there were a poster boy for chiseled ennui, Hartley’s Kevin is it.) “We worked together one day, and at the end of the day, I feel like we’re best friends. The guy is awesome,” he says, laughing. “He’s just unbelievable, and so gracious and kind. What a nice guy.”

We also won’t reveal the big twist at the end of the hour; make sure to check in with TVLine immediately following the East Coast airing for a post mortem with series creator Dan Fogelman. But we got Hartley to tease a bit about how Kevin’s life gets a little less lonely — though probably even less comfortable — when Salem’s Janet Montgomery shows up as an acerbic theater actress/potential love interest named Erin.

“She doesn’t take Kevin very seriously as an actor or an artist,” he says, “and she has her opinions about him based on what she thinks he’s all about, what he must be all about because he puts hair product in his hair.”

He adds: “She’s not this warm person right off the bat, but she may warm up to him later.”

As TVLine pointed out in our review, the feelings-laden This Is Us has serious ugly-cry potential; Hartley certainly backs that up when we ask which episodes will reduce us to a pile of emotional destruction.

“[Episode] 2 for sure… 3, 4, 5 and — I just read 6 — also 6,” he says, laughing.

This Is Us premieres Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 10/9c on NBC.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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15 Comments
  1. Kevin K says:

    Justin Hartley will be missed on Y&R and I’m happy that This Is Us should be a career boost for him.

  2. wrstlgirl says:

    Really REALLY looking forward to this one. Hope it makes the cut.

    • Kristen says:

      From what I’ve heard it’s the first fall series that already has a full season order and talks (if not secured) season two renewal. I think I’m going to love everything about this series.

  3. ThisIsUsFanCrew I got a sneak peek of this show. Best Show I’ve seen in a long time. It brings real life back to TV that can relate to all of us in one way or another. You will laugh, love, and cry. They couldn’t have chosen a better cast for this show then the ones chosen.

  4. Diane says:

    Justin, you’re gonna rock as Kevin!! I’m sure I will fall in love all over again…still miss you on Y&R every day. I never cried as much as I did watching that last episode.

  5. Lex says:

    I will forever mourn the passing of Passions; there will never again be a soap as bats–t crazy as that gem. And I’ll never stop pointing out that Smallville was another case where Oliver Queen ended up with the cute, nerdy blonde. Good to see him getting another role that sounds fun as well as serious.

    • Dee says:

      Sorry Lex I hated PASSIONS so never watched it after the first few shows but I love Justin and he was awesome as Adam Newman on Y & R. I can’t wait to see this new show tonite and I hope it fires his shooting star far into the Heavens because he has earned it.

  6. Eva says:

    Yeah, I’m gonna read the spoilery review before watching the pilot. I don’t mind spoilers, but what annoys me are all these half-spoilers: “there’s a HUGE surprise at the end of the episode”, “somebody’s dying tonight”, etc. When I know some huge twists is coming, and this one has been mentioned in about every preview of the show, I’ll never get immersed in the plot and form any emotional connections with characters. That’s what really spoils my viewing experience.

  7. Kristen says:

    I’ve ugly cried at all the clips/previews thus far, so I imagine I will be ugly crying through most of this first season. Ever since Parenthood went off the air, I was searching for another show that had that family feel to it, and I think this may just be it. I can’t wait for the premiere tonight.

  8. Erika Mulligan says:

    Okay I have watched Y&R since 1977 and on Justin Hartley last day i cried. But i just watched his new show This Is Us and it was GREAT!!!!!!! Can’t wait to watch it next week.

  9. Joyce N. says:

    Where ever justin hartley goes, whatever part he is cast in, he will excel. He is an impressive and good looking actor
    No doubt he will be well recognized in This Is Us! Sòooooooooooo, glad he decided to move on to prime time.
    I will give these episodes my undivided attention!

  10. Steven Fung says:

    The Fox ad for AHS with no mute button and auto playing is making want to use an ad blocker on your site. I try to support your work by allowing ads like that make me not want to keep whitelisting your site.

  11. cheryl robinson says:

    My husband told me I miss the first episode. I hope it was a huge hit. I’m such a fan of Justin Hartley. I hope it a slam dunk. I want miss the next one

  12. alisha says:

    Do not like Justin Hartley in this show, not crazy about the show period. Justin in my opinion needs to go back to playing Adam Newman on y&r. He was much better in that role….sure hope he returns. Will watch one more episode of this show if it doesn’t get any better for me it will be the last time I watch. I mean triplets were born in the first show then tonight they were ten yr.s old…can’t get into that.