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He admitted he was shocked by the abrupt turn of events, likening the moment to a far deadlier HBO show known for its shocking and vicious character deaths.
“I was like, what are we all of a sudden: Game of Thrones? We’re killing off lead actors on our show?!” Hartley admitted. “But it kept me up at night and no one’s safe. No one’s safe at This Is Us, but it’s amazing storytelling.”
“You fall in love with these characters and then these tragedies happen,” he added. “We can make people laugh and cry.”
After Randall (Sterling K. Brown) shared scenes with his late father, Jack (Milo Ventimiglia), after tripping on mushrooms, Hartley didn’t divulge whether he’ll get to act opposite his TV dad. (Please make it happen!)
“I guess it would depend on how many drugs I take!” he quipped. “What a great storytelling device because someone said to me a month or two ago that Sterling and Milo would be working together. How? That doesn’t make any sense! [Is it a] dream or what is that there? Like no, no, it’s not a dream. That’s pretty fantastic.”
As for Kevin’s romantic entanglements -- first with the actress Olivia (Janet Montgomery) and now with the playwright Sloane (Milana Vayntrub) -- it’s safe to categorize his love life as complicated. With Olivia’s absence causing the play Kevin was co-starring in to be prematurely shut down, Hartley addressed the possibility of her return.
“I don’t know,” Hartley admitted. “I loved working with her though, so why not? There’s room for her to come back, right? I like that character – no filter. Everything comes out of her mouth, then everyone sort of [is] sitting there picking up the pieces.”
The former soap star is appreciative of being a part of a character-driven show that explores all facets of human connection, revealing to ET he’s happy with what awaits Kevin.
“Especially for my character, I cannot wait for when we come back and you all see what’s happening with Kevin,” Hartley hinted. “I did not see it coming at all. It’s pretty cool.”
When asked to describe Kevin’s upcoming arc with one emotion, Hartley picked an interesting choice: “Raw.” Hmmm, we can’t wait to continue on the journey!
This Is Us returns Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.