Kevin Pearson is having a rough go of it on This Is Us, but Justin Hartley hopes that it’s just a phase.
“In 10 years in a perfect world I see him happy. Whatever that means, if that means kids and a wife and a house in the suburbs or if that means a big movie career or if that means peace of mind and peace of heart and a simple life. I just want him happy. And I think he deserves it,” the 40-year-old exclusively tells Us Weekly. “He’s kind of being harder on himself then he really needs to be. It’s a tough situation.”
Kevin has been spiraling for some time. Quick recap: He injured his knee again while filming a movie, is relying heavily on his pain medication, is drinking more and cheated on Sophie (Alexandra Breckenridge) — for the second time.
“Kevin’s storyline right now [is the most difficult],” Hartley tells Us. “Any time you feel like you’re on an island and you don’t have anyone to talk to and you’re trying to tackle things that are insurmountable even when you do have friends around you. Trying to tackle those things alone I think is just a recipe for disaster. It’s an honest, real dangerous place. Somewhere people really go to. I think that, to me, that’s been pretty impactful.”
Hartley specifically had two emotionally draining scenes recently. In “Number Two,” he painfully recalled moments from his childhood on his high school football field and broke down in tears after losing his father Jack’s (Milo Ventimiglia) necklace.
“The thing about our show is that none of it is easy. In a way the writing makes it easier because the writing is so good, but in a way it makes it more difficult because there’s no acting — at least for me,” the A Bad Moms Christmas star explains. “I think you better have the tools to get yourself out of those dark places that you have to go to because for me you just really go there. And then it’s like no one can ever tell you that you’re not doing it if you’re doing it. Right? They are all difficult. I try to experience all of the pain and the joy and everything that my character goes through in a real way so that I don’t really have to put on. The last thing that I want is for it to look like anything other than real. It’s all difficult.”
This Is Us airs Tuesdays on NBC at 9 p.m. ET.
For more with Hartley, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now!