Justin Hartley shifts gears in new drama "Tracker"

Actor Justin Hartley, known for his role as Kevin Pearson on “This Is Us,” has taken on a drastically different character in the new CBS action-packed drama series “Tracker.” Hartley stars as Colter Shaw, a rugged survivalist who traverses the country to locate missing people and collect rewards.

Hartley said he had to completely depart from Pearson to prevent any overlap between the characters. 

“I didn’t want Kevin leaking out into what I was doing for Colter. So I actually made a list of the two of them. And it turns out they have nothing in common,” he told “CBS Mornings.”

Hartley found that the physical demands of the role of Colter contrast with the emotional demands of his previous network stint.

“I like the physicality. It’s fun. It’s something different,” he said of the new role, noting that his “tear ducts got a workout on ‘This Is Us.'”

The series also stars Hartley’s real-life wife, Sofia Pernas, adding a personal touch to their on-screen interactions. 

Hartley discussed the dynamics of working closely with someone he loves, describing it as both a professional advantage and a personal joy.

“It makes it so easy. She’s so good and she’s lovely to stare at and she’s so good. She’s so talented and anytime you get a chance to work with a talented actor, they just lift your performance. It’s unbelievable. You’re basically just along for the ride,” said Hartley.

Reflecting on his dual role as actor and executive producer, Hartley said his collaborative effort with Ken Olin, whom he previously worked on “This Is Us,” made the transition easy.

“It’s been a wonderful partnership,” he said. And it’s a partnership that has helped boost Tracker to being the number one new series on CBS.

Tracker” delves into Colter Shaw’s backstory and family toward the season’s end. Hartley hinted at how a rich narrative is unfolding.

“The truth comes out,” he said.

Watch “Tracker” on CBS on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific and streaming on Paramount Plus.

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