Daytime alum Justin Hartley (ex-Adam Newman, The Young and the Restless; ex-Fox Crane, Passions) found primetime fame with his role on the NBC series This Is Us, and he's about to see how much bigger his star can grow. The Illinois native has teamed with This Is Us director and executive producer Ken Olin, with whom he has optioned the rights to Jeffery Deaver's 2019 thriller novel, The Never Game, for an upcoming TV series.
Deadline reports that Hartley is attached to star in the potential first season while Olin is set to direct the project, which Hartley's ChangeUp Productions and Olin's Afterportsmouth Productions will develop and produce under the companies' deals at 20th Television.
The Never Game is the first in a series of books that follows Colter Shaw (to be played by Hartley), an itinerant "reward-seeker" who travels the country in his old-school RV to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. When he learns of a reward for a missing college student in Silicon Valley, he takes the job and is quickly thrust into the dark heart of Silicon Valley and the cutthroat billion-dollar video gaming industry.
When a second kidnapping happens -- and this victim turns up dead -- Shaw realizes that the clues point to one video game, The Never Game, in which the player has to survive after being left abandoned. Is a madman bringing that game to life? If so, Shaw has to stop him before he strikes again... and before he figures out that Shaw is on his trail.
Hartley's character is described as "a reward seeker raised by survivalists off the grid. He and his siblings were schooled by their parents, former professors who fled the city for safety, and taught the rules of survival, or 'The Never Game,' as their father called it before he was murdered."
Identity writer Michael Cooney is set to pen the drama adaptation and will executive produce with Hartley and Olin. Additional producers include Roxy Olin, Head of Afterportsmouth Productions, and Julianna LaRosa, Head of ChangeUp Productions.
Interestingly enough, just about one year ago Hartley teased a "secret project."
Hartley currently plays actor Kevin Pearson on This Is Us, now in its fifth (and possibly penultimate) season on NBC. He previously starred as Y&R's Adam from 2014 to 2016 and Passions' Fox from 2002 to 2006. His other credits include Mistresses, Smallville, and Revenge.
UPDATE (September 9, 2021): Hartley's The Never Game has scored a pilot production commitment at CBS, with additional casting set to be revealed in the coming weeks. Says Hartley of his drama series, "I couldn't be happier that The Never Game is coming to CBS and that Colter Shaw will be brought to life on screen soon. When I read the book, I was immediately drawn to the character and the story; developing this project with Ken [Olin] has been a true labor of love. Colter is going to kick some serious ass, and I can't wait for audiences to meet him." The pilot will be executive produced and directed by Ken Olin and it is unclear if Hartley will serve as EP on the pilot.
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