The world has gone nuts for Justin Hartley as an actor, and the last episode of This Is Us has everyone buzzing about his skills as a director. The Illinois native, known to soap fans for his roles as The Young and the Restless' Adam Newman and Passions' Fox Crane, got behind the camera and helmed the February 11 episode of the NBC dramedy.
Hartley has been playing Kevin Pearson for four seasons, earning a Critics Choice Award nomination for his work on the show. This episode was the first that he directed (though he does have previous directing experience, having taken on a 2011 episode of Smallville), and it was a big one. Titled A Hell of a Week: Part Three, the episode centered on Kevin's twin sister, Kate (Chrissy Metz), and was the third in a series that focused solely on one of the three Pearson siblings, a.k.a. The Big Three.
Hartley is happy to have gone behind the camera for the emotional episode, but he doesn't take full credit for directing, saying it was a team effort rather than a solo adventure.
"I say we directed because I feel like the actors directed it as well because we were all working as a team, I was just in the chair," Hartley tells TV Insider. "But we really did something special. These people, Mandy [Moore], Chrissy, Milo [Ventimiglia], Chris Sullivan, all these people, they were incredible. It's an interesting thing to see it from a different perspective. To be behind the monitors and watch it from a little bit of a distance, instead of being in the scene, you actually get to watch these incredible performances and raw footage and it's not scored yet, and it's just them being real and honest and amazing."
Actress Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca Pearson on This Is Us, praised her on-screen son's directing capabilities in a behind-the-scenes video posted on the show's YouTube account.
"Justin is one of my favorite directors we've ever had on the series," she gushes. "He knows the show so well in such a specific way. The observations he has are so keen and I think that's because of who he is as an actor."
Hartley's costar Sterling K Brown also praised his TV brother, tweeting, "This is a @JustinHartley appreciation post because he brilliantly directed tonight's episode of #ThisIsUs!"
This Is Us might not be the only thing that Hartley is working on as a director. In January, he teased that he is working on a secret project that "has to do with soap operas and daytime and that world." Additional details are scarce at the moment, but he seems to be serious about the project, having taken a couple of writers with him when he went back for a visit to his old stomping grounds at Y&R.
Hartley starred as The Young and the Restless' Adam Newman from 2014 to 2016 and as Passions' Fox Crane from 2002 to 2006.
What do you think about Justin Hartley directing an episode of This Is Us? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.