This is Us star Justin Hartley, our most recent “Man of Style,” took a moment from his hectic shooting schedule to rap with Haute Living on his hit show, his on-set besties, his fashion passions and how he’s dealing with overnight success.
How are you dealing with the success of “This Is Us”?
It’s great to see people reacting to the show the way they have been. When they come up to me when I’m out and about and just tell me how much the show means to them and tell us how good they think we’re doing—it’s been wonderful. To be part of something that I’m so proud of, that everyone else really likes, is fantastic. I’m happy for everybody.
What do you like about your character in show, and is there anything you dislike?
I like everything about him, I think. I like that he’s honest. I like that he’s self-aware. I like that he handles things with humor and that he can knuckle-down and get serious when he needs to. I like that he’s a family man, because first and foremost, I think he loves his family. I also like that he tries his hardest all the time. You know, whether he wins or loses, he’s constantly trying his hardest, and he leads with his heart. I love all that stuff about him.
When you signed onto the show did you know it would be so big and become critically acclaimed?
You know, you never know the answer to that because there’s too many variables, one of them being that you never know what other people will like. I knew that I liked this script- when I read it I knew it was special. There’s been times where I’ve read something that’s wonderful on the page, and then I look at them [the writers] and ask, “Well who’s going to be making this?” and they tell me, “Well, we’re trying to get somebody to make it.” Then, when you finally get a studio or a network behind a script, it has to look good on the screen. Just because it reads well, doesn’t mean it’s always going to look good on screen. Then a network or studio has to pick up the show, and then they have to order more episodes, and then people have to watch it. It could be the greatest thing on television that nobody ever watches. But I knew that we had a really good shot here, because I have faith in people and I think people have been wanting something like ‘This Is Us.’ I think it’s a good time to have a show like this, so it’s kind of been the perfect storm. I was hopeful, but you never know if a pilot for a show is going to air at all, let alone an entire season, let alone become a hit, let alone be the #1 hit. You never know that kind of stuff, but I’m happy that it happened. I wish I could predict things like that, I’d be a richer man.
Who are you closest to on set?
This is going to sound so cliché, but I’m not closest to anyone. If you told me that I couldn’t work with “fill-in-the-blank” anymore on the show, I’d be upset about it. I love every single one of them. I’ll turn this question around a little bit and say that I wish I could work with Milo [Ventimiglia] more. Obviously just the way that the show is and the fact that his character has passed away by the time my character, Kevin, is an adult, it’s hard to have scenes with him. Every time I get a new script and I see that there’s a scene with someone I haven’t worked with in a couple of weeks, I get excited. At the very beginning of the season I was working with Chrissy [Metz] a lot, and then our characters went their own way on the show. Then I got to work with her again during the holiday episode, and we were both like “yes!” I missed her! Same thing goes for the rest of the cast. I also love working with our guest stars. We get the best guest stars in television to come do our show- these wonderful, terrific, seasoned, award-winning actors are coming in to play with us and it’s like an actor’s playground! It’s wonderful.
What were you working on before you landed “This Is Us,” and are there any other projects you have worked on in the past that you loved?
Look, every job you have there are days that are more difficult than others. I worked on a daytime soap opera, where the volume at which you’re producing this medium is incredible. I mean, you’re shooting 100 pages of script a day, whereas our show [This Is Us], we’re doing five or six, maybe seven on a really heavy day. So there’s struggles that come along with that, where you don’t have time to fix certain problems before you shoot the scene. So that can be frustrating, working on a daytime show, but at the same time I loved my time on ‘Young & Restless.’ I loved my time all the way back to ‘Passions.’ I loved ‘Smallville’ too. ‘Smallville’ was one of those things where we worked a lot of nights and there were a lot of physical scenes. I was hurt a lot, but I loved it! The ‘Revenge’ cast was also one of the greatest, most gracious casts I’ve ever been a part of. Here’s this hit show, and it’s kind of dark, and there’s this woman who’s sort of murdering everyone – she’s basically a hit man! – and yet behind-the-scenes everyone is telling jokes and laughing, and it was the kindest group of people I’ve ever been around. I’ve been lucky. I’ve never really had a job that I did that I didn’t like. Right before I did ‘This Is Us’ I was doing a movie with my fiancée, Chrishell, called ‘Another Time’ that just got finished. So that’ll be coming out, in some capacity, sometime in the near future. So I’m looking forward to that as well.
Any plans to make the jump into film? What do you prefer, television or movies?
You know, I like them both. I’ve done a little bit of both, and the stage. I loved that. There’s something about a live performance that’s wonderful- that you just can’t replicate. And there’s something about television that’s wonderful because you’re telling a story where there’s not necessarily a beginning and an end. And movies are great too because you get a little bit more time and you know where the character’s going. I don’t know if I have a preference necessarily. I like all of it. I just love acting. It’s all different and I love it all.
Do you consider yourself a fashion savvy guy?
No, I don’t, but I’ve heard other people say that about me. I mean, I guess I think I know what looks good. But just like everything else, there are times when you take chances and you strike out occasionally. And you don’t realize sometimes until the photos come back and you’re like, “What the hell was I thinking?” But I think I’ve done that more with haircuts than I have with clothes! I think the way you dress tells a story about the way you feel, and so I try to keep that in mind. But then there are other days where I’m in sweatpants and a sweatshirt on the couch all day. But I try!
How would you describe your style?
I try to keep it buttoned up and put-together, yet easy and low-maintenance. I try to look clean, but I like a balance between put-together and comfortable.
Who are some of your favorite designers, and brands?
I love Dolce & Gabbana. I’ve always liked them a lot- they seem to fit me well. I’m into John Varvatos. I like really like his stuff and what he’s doing. James Perse has the most comfortable T-shirts. You can throw those on and just put a pair of jeans on. I like Diesel jeans. I like Hudson jeans. I love PAIGE denim. Their pants are cool. I love Bruno Magli shoes, Ferragamo… all that stuff I love.
Do you have a style icon?
There’s so many dudes out there that are doing it well now. Like [Ryan] Reynolds and [Ryan] Gosling do it well. Ben Affleck has put himself together well. I don’t know if I have a specific style icon. Brad Pitt is always sort of buttoned up, isn’t he? George Clooney always looks really good. He’s always done it right. Tom Cruise tends to do it well. I don’t know- I think guys don’t get as much credit as they deserve sometimes, for how hard it is to put a great look together. It’s so easy to just do a “suit,” but to make it look a little different, it takes some effort.
Where would you love to go, on your next vacation?
I think I’d like to go to Venice! I’ve never been. I’ve been to Milan, but it was to work and I didn’t get the chance to go to Venice.
If you could describe yourself in a phrase or three words, what would they be?
Loyal, funny, and thoughtful.