Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for the This Is Us episode “Number One.”
The This Is Us teens are showing just how much playing a shared character is a team effort. The next three episodes of the hit NBC drama will offer a trilogy about the backstory of the Big Three, giving the characters’ teen counterparts some of their biggest scenes to date.
On the most recent This Is Us episode, titled “Number One,” a teen Kevin Pearson (Logan Shroyer) got cocky about his presumed future as a football player at Notre Dame until an accident on the high school field shattered his knee—and his dreams. In the present day, an adult Kevin (Justin Hartley) continued his downward spiral into painkiller and alcohol addiction. Both actors showed sides of Kevin Pearson viewers had never seen before, a side that could land both of them Emmy nods.
The “Number One” episode also showed Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) giving his injured teen son his most prized possession: A necklace that was given to him by someone special in Vietnam. Kevin wore the symbol of hope into adulthood until he lost it during a drunken romp with an old high school classmate. Hartley’s Kevin ultimately went into breakdown mode, where the actor delivered the scene that could take him into serious Emmy territory. You can see Justin Hartley in one his most emotional scenes in the “Number One” episode below.
Justin Hartley talked to Variety about adult Kevin’s breakdown outside of the home of his one-night stand.
“[The necklace] the last physical object he had of his father, and he never got any closure of his relationship with his father,” Hartley told Variety. “And you start to see what he was going through with his father when he died — and they weren’t in a good place. He carries that around with him, and I think that necklace that he wore was the promise of a better day.”
That bad relationship Hartley hinted at was shown in several flashback scenes with Ventimiglia and Shroyer. Teen Kevin embarrassed his family in an interview with a college football coach from Pitt, but the underlying issue was that Kevin was embarrassed by his father’s ongoing involvement in AA. The tension came to a head in an emotional argument scene.
This Is Us stars Justin Hartley, Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, and show creator Dan Fogelman all praised Logan Shroyer’s portrayal of teen Kevin, who went from angry at his father to devastated about his lost future in the gut-wrenching episode. In response, Shroyer said he was humbled and that he has learned from the best. You can see the cast’s reaction to Logan’s headlining performance in the “Number One” episode below.
A quick shout to @Logan_Shroyer for his A+ acting chops tonight on #ThisIsUs.— Justin Hartley (@justinhartley) November 15, 2017
Our show is a team effort and telling this story the way we do would be impossible without him and our other self, @Parker_Austin_B.
In an interview with Candid magazine, Logan Shroyer revealed he sometimes checks in with his fellow “Kevins,” Hartley and Parker Bates (who plays the 10-year-old version of the character) to make sure they all stay on track in playing the shared character.
“I have definitely watched Justin’s mannerisms and even talked to Parker a little bit too,” Logan said.
“You definitely have to approach it a little bit. Justin established the character, so we will have conversations every once in a while, to make sure everything is on track. Yeah, definitely got to do your research on the mannerisms and make sure you’re ‘Kevin.'”
Shroyer also credited the entire This Is Us family for the immeasurable learning experiences he has had on the NBC drama, saying he feels blessed for the opportunity to be able to learn side-by-side with the other actors.
“They’re a family,” Shroyer said. “When you go on-set and see everybody, everybody is just so supportive. It is probably the greatest opportunity I could have as an actor right now.”
You can see Justin Hartley and Logan Shroyer as Kevin Pearson in the This Is Us clip below.
This Is Us airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
[Featured Image by Ron Batzdorff/NBC]