Justin Hartley’s This Is Us character, Kevin Pearson, has made a mess of his love life, and now the actor is giving some insight into what’s next for his love quadrangle.
This Is Us fans know that on the most recent episode of the NBC drama, Kevin got some relationship advice from his future brother-in-law Toby (Chris Sullivan), who told him to imagine he had 30 seconds to say three sentences to the love of his life in order to win her back.
While viewers assumed Hartley’s character would recite his run-on love letter to either ex-lovers Olivia (Janet Montgomery) or Sloane (Milana Vayntrub), This Is Us producers delivered yet another blindside when he showed up at the doorstep of his ex-wife, Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge), saying he hasn’t stopped thinking about her since their divorce 12 years ago. Say what?
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Justin Hartley explained that the resurfaced feelings for his previously unheard of childhood friend turned ex-wife was an epiphany for the character and not a rebound.
“It tells a lot about why Kevin is where he’s at,” Justin told EW. “He got that advice from Toby, and it was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It was very much in keeping with the This Is Us way of telling the story. It was right there in front of your face the whole time. We weren’t hiding anything from you. It’s just that you have to be willing to see it. Kevin opens his eyes, and he goes, ‘My gosh, it was staring at me in the face the whole time. I wasn’t ready to see it.'”
Hartley explained that his character’s chat with Toby caused him to have an aha moment about his love life.
“He’s in love with her,” Justin said.
“So instead of this guy being this shallow dude that is enjoying his workouts and his women, you see why he’s where he is. He’s broken. He’s hurt. He’s crestfallen. And instead of trying to fill his life with these empty things, he’s going to try to dig his heels in again. It’s nice to see him do that.”
Justin Hartley added that while The Manny star was living the Hollywood life he was still very lonely, and it took until now for him to realize that he had the “ideal girl” a decade ago. Hartley also hinted that his character may have been the one who screwed up the marriage, possibly by getting caught up in the fame game.
“I can tell you that good people do bad things,” Justin said. “A lot of times, especially in careers or where it’s really very competitive, you start to put that ahead of relationships and people, and I think that also had something to do with it. He lost himself a little bit, and he lost his way.”
Justin Hartley said that while he thinks Sophie still loves her ex-husband, “she knows what it means to get back involved with this guy.”
While Kevin’s storyline appears to be a “quadrangle,” Justin Hartley says it’s more of a triangle with “him, Sophie, and his career.” But This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman told Entertainment Weekly that Hartley’s complicated character is privy to more than a mere triangle. Still, it sounds like the upcoming storyline will be very Sophie-centered.
“Justin’s so handsome that I feel like a love triangle is not nearly enough for him,” Fogelman joked. “Kevin’s romantic story will turn very much to Sophie for the rest of the season.”
As for what viewers can expect to find out about Kevin’s failed marriage, Fogelman says it will play out in the upcoming This Is Us episode, “I Call Marriage.”
“They have a big episode… and a lot is revealed about the context for them,” the showrunner said.
“With all the things we’re talking about, he clearly got married very young, he clearly got married to his high school sweetheart. She was probably very much a part of his life when things went on, so there’s a lot to be explored there in terms of both what happened, what he might have done and what went wrong, what went right, all of it…You’re going to learn a lot about Kevin as we proceed. A lot about how a Hollywood playboy becomes a Hollywood playboy. I think you’re going to like a lot about him with her.”
Of course, some This is Us fans have speculated that Kevin could be the father to a child viewers haven’t heard about yet. And if that’s the case, Justin Hartley says he wants that to be a secret from Kevin.
“I want him to not know about it,” Justin admitted. “Because I’d have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that Kevin knew he had a kid and he didn’t reach out and try to be a father to be that kid.”
Take a look at the video below to see Justin Hartley deliver his character’s three sentences on This Is Us.
You can see Justin Hartley on This Is Us Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images]