While the film world remains caught up in the hubbub over the recent announcement that
In the Season 1 finale of NBC's hit family drama, Hartley's character — floundering actor Kevin Pearson, who is looking to be taken more seriously in his profession — was setting off to begin work on a project helmed by Howard. In the episode, the director had taken notice of Kevin's performance in a theater production during a visit to New York.
Howard, it should be noted, is good friends with "This Is Us" creator Dan Fogelman and appeared in the episode.
"I tell you one thing about Ron," Hartley said during a recent visit to The Times video studio. "You sort of grow up watching these people that are icons. And it seems with time, they get — I don't know if it's better and better or you get used to them being a fabric of your life. And he's one of those men."
The 40-year-old actor went on to describe Howard as "the nicest human being on the planet. He's done everything. He's done everything well. And yet he's grounded."
But Hartley and Howard didn't exactly share a scene together in the penultimate episode. Instead, Howard calls Kevin. On top of that, Hartley filmed his side of the phone call about a week prior to Howard's visit. Not wanting to miss out on hearing Howard praise him — even vicariously through his character -- Hartley offered to come in on his day off to read his character's part of the phone conversation off-camera.
"I just wanted to be in the room when I heard Ron Howard say how great I was," Hartley admitted. "I just wanted the words to come out of his mouth. And then they put me in another room on the phone call, so I was never even in the room with him. But I did hear it over the phone. In my own head, I was like, that's Ron's voice telling me. It was definitely a highlight for me."
In our own fan fiction, we imagine Howard enlisting Kevin as a last-minute addition to the Han Solo production. Hartley, though, is just crossing his fingers that more Howard cameos are in his future.
"Hopefully he's not too bogged with work and he can come down to do some more."
Watch the full conversation below: