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How Justin Hartley drew from 'This Is Us' in his new holiday movie

“It’s hard not to because Kevin went through so much, didn’t he, in those six years?” the actor told TODAY.
/ Source: TODAY

Justin Hartley may have moved on from playing Kevin in “This Is Us,” but Kevin hasn’t necessarily moved on from him.

Hartley stars in the upcoming Netflix holiday movie “The Noel Diary,” playing a successful author named Jake Turner, estranged from his family, who has to revisit his past when his mother dies. He says it was only natural for him to draw on his experience portraying Kevin for six seasons of “This Is Us" for this role.

“It’s hard not to because Kevin went through so much, didn’t he, in those six years?” Hartley tells TODAY.

The Noel Diary. Justin Hartley as Jake in The Noel Diary.
Justin Hartley in "The Noel Diary." Netflix

“I mean, he did everything you can imagine. He had substance abuse issues. He lost his father. He ended up losing his mother. He nursed her through her illness. He was estranged from his brother, then they reconnected and they fought and they reconnected again. A lot of things that it would be hard not to relate to Kevin, I think, if you’re anybody.”

Hartley says the audience doesn’t have the same amount of time getting to know his character in this movie, but the similarities with Kevin and the rest of the “This Is Us” family are there.

“Jake, we only have an hour and a half with him, or two hours with him, so we don’t have six seasons with him, but, yeah, it’s hard not to draw on things from ‘This Is Us.’ Not just Kevin, but all the characters, really,” he says.

This Is Us - Season 1
Justin Hartley, as Kevin on 'This Is Us."NBC

“They all went through so much and they’re all so relatable. I tend to see myself pulling from some of those characters, some certain characteristics from those guys.”

Hartley believes he can draw from Kevin and other “This Is Us” characters in other future roles, too.

“Even if it’s a superhero, I’d be like, ‘Well, Kevin was an actor, so …’ Yeah, I think so. I just think that show hit on so many different levels,” he says.

The Noel Diary. (L to R) Justin Hartley as Jake, Barrett Doss as Rachel in The Noel Diary.
Justin Hartley and Barrett Doss in “The Noel Diary.” “I could connect with him,” Hartley said about his character. “We come from different family backgrounds. We have different stories altogether. But, yeah, I can connect with him in that it seems like he's always searching for that family connection.” Netflix

“This Is Us” signed off in May after six years, winning over viewers with its heartbreaking depiction of the trials and tribulations of Pearson family in different eras. Hartley says the show’s ability to reach an eclectic audience was vital to its success.

“So many different walks of life can relate to that show,” Hartley says.

“I’ve always said it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, or Black or white, or a woman or a man or what language you speak or where you were born, it doesn’t matter.

“You can relate to some things that those characters are going through on that show. So, it would be hard to think of a scenario that you couldn’t trace back to something that you saw a glimpse of at least on ‘This Is Us.’”

You can judge for yourself just how much “This Is Us” played a part in Hartley's performance when “The Noel Diary” becomes available to stream Nov. 24 on Netflix.

The Noel Diary. Justin Hartley as Jake Turner in The Noel Diary.
The Noel Diary. Justin Hartley as Jake Turner in The Noel Diary.Netflix