In only three seasons, it has already been a long, strange trip for Kevin Pearson.
“If you look at the broad scope of things — where we found this character when we first saw him, compared to where he is now and that journey that he took to get there — he has done the work and then relapsed and then realized there’s more work to be done, and it’s this ongoing thing,” said Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on NBC’s hit drama “This Is Us.” “He’s finding things out about himself that maybe years ago he would have said in a private moment — you know, I wish I were blank, or I wish I were blank. And now he’s discovering he actually is that.
“And it’s really cool to watch this guy kind of grow into a man right before our very eyes and do all these really important things that are meaningful, and he’s a thoughtful individual and he’s deep.”
Hartley dropped by the Los Angeles Times video studio for an Emmy Contenders chat with Times writer Yvonne Villarreal, who spoke with him about the third season of the award-winning NBC drama, which has been renewed for another three seasons.
When the show started, Kevin — one of the three children of the Pearson clan — had seen his athletic dreams dashed by injury and found success as an actor on a Hollywood sitcom. In quick succession, he became disillusioned with fame and fortune, sought artistic redemption on Broadway, was buffeted about from relationship to relationship, was injured on set, and battled addiction to alcohol and pain killers.
In the third season, while going on a quest to better understand his late father’s war experiences in Vietnam, he discovered that the uncle his father had always told the family was long dead was, in fact, alive — and an addict himself.
Kevin had a key moment in Season 3, in which he reached out to his girlfriend in a vulnerable moment — but she didn’t pick up his call. Hartley was asked if it would have changed anything if she had.
“I think it depends on what he would have said to her. The way I kind of see it in my head is it was a cry for help: He was reaching out. But also, reaching out in a way to someone that he maybe knew wouldn’t pick up the phone and wasn’t available. And if she did pick up, would he have said where he actually is or would he have played it off? That’s the question.
“I feel like, if he made that phone call to [siblings] Randall or to Kate or his mom, I think he would have said, ‘Help. I got my hands full here. I don’t know what I’m doing. I need somebody to lean on. I need you to come here and put your arms around me and take care of me.’
“That sounds so weak, but that’s so powerful to be able to say, ‘I need help.’ That takes a massive human being. So to me, I’m proud of him. I think if he were a real dude, I would be friends with him, I’d be really proud of him, and I’d like to be there for him.
“I really do think he’s come a long way.”
To see this entire interview, click on the video below.