'I Love Them' (Exclusive): Justin Hartley Still Gets 'Ridiculous' Texts from His This Is Us Costars

The actor played Kevin Pearson on the NBC drama for six seasons from 2016-2022 This Is Us may be over, but the friendships remain for the cast of the hit NBC drama

Published Time: 09.02.2024 - 17:31:09 Modified Time: 09.02.2024 - 17:31:09

The actor played Kevin Pearson on the NBC drama for six seasons from 2016-2022

This Is Us may be over, but the friendships remain for the cast of the hit NBC drama.

While speaking to PEOPLE about his new CBS show Tracker, debuting after the Super Bowl on Feb. 11, Justin Hartley shares that he is still very much “in touch” with his former on-screen family.

“All those guys! Sterling K. Brown and I just got a little video message from Mandy Moore. She was doing something ridiculous and it felt like she might've been making fun of us. She probably was,” he says with a laugh. “I love them.”

Hartley, 47, spent all six seasons on This Is Us playing Kevin Pearson, one of three siblings in a family touched by tragedy. Moore played his mother, Rebecca Pearson, and Brown — who is currently nominated for an Oscar for his role asClifford "Cliff" Ellison inAmerican Fiction— played his adopted brother, Randall Pearson.

“Isn't that amazing? I'm not surprised,” Hartley says of Brown's big award nod. “I'm thrilled and I'm excited for him, but I'm not surprised.”

This Is Us, which also starred Milo Ventimiglia as patriarch Jack Pearson and Chrissy Metz as Kevin's sister Kate Pearson, wrapped in 2022. As Hartley looks back on the show, he says he “enjoyed every minute.”

“I would've done that show for a hundred years, but I'm glad we didn't. We always knew that it was going to end after six seasons. There was never a seventh season, there was never an eighth season. There was never a chance, really, we were going to do more. So we got the benefit of saying that long goodbye," he explains. "And it's really savoring those moments, knowing that they're fleeting and this isn't going to go on forever, so just enjoy it while you're there."

Hartley is also gearing up for a pseudo This Is Us crossover moment in real life with his new show, Tracker.

> Jon Huertas, who played Kevin’s stepfather Miguel on the show, is going to be directing an episode of the new action-packed CBS drama.

“I'll be with him every day on set. We'll be spending a ton of time together,” Hartley says with a smile. 

As for how his new persona differs from that of Pearson? Hartley jokes there’s a lot less “sitting.”

“I enjoyed the This Is Us job so much, it just was so much character-sitting there, not a lot of exercise. The guy didn't move around a lot!” he quips. “So it's good to change it up. It's good to get a role where you're doing a lot of physical stuff.”

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Hartley’s Tracker character is a mercenary named Colter Shaw, who Hartley sees as “a guy who’s got it all figured out. He's efficient. He says what he means, means what he says, and he doesn't talk too much."

Hartley continues of his new role: "He reads people. They fold into Colter's world. He sets the tone, he sets the temperature, he decides when it's over and he decides what we're going to talk about and all that kind of stuff, which is way different than Kevin.”

Still, Hartley admits he will forever be tied to Kevin Pearson — and he's proud of it.

"I will always bring parts of him with me, I think in every character I play," he says. "That guy, I thought he was funny. He was very insecure. He was sensitive. He was wise beyond his years. An old soul kind of guy.”

For more on Justin Hartley, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribehere.

Trackerpremieres afterSuper BowlLVIII on Sunday, Feb. 11 on CBS, and This Is Us can be streamed on Hulu and Netflix.

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