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Justin Hartley has learned some things as ‘Tracker’

<i>Michael Courtney/CBS</i><br/>Justin Hartley as Colter Shaw in
Michael Courtney/CBS
Justin Hartley as Colter Shaw in "Tracker."

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) — Justin Hartley has come a bit of a way since portraying Kevin Pearson on the hit drama, “This Is Us.”

He’s now starring as Colter Shaw on the new CBS series “Tracker.” The character is a skilled survivalist who makes his living earning rewards for tracking down folks.

Hartley joked to CNN that the role calls for “a lot more stretching.”

“I definitely get my steps in more on this show, I would say, than I did on ‘This Is Us,’” he said, laughing. “Every character is different, but also the prep, some of the prep is the same. There’s certainly physical prep, but the emotional prep is also something that I spend a lot of time on.”

Fortunately, he had plenty of source material to refer to in order to prepare.

The character is based on the protagonist in a book series by bestselling author Jeffery Deaver.

Hartley said he and “Thirtysomething” star Ken Olin, who along with him serve as executive producers on the show, found the character via Deaver’s book, “The Never Game.”

He and Olin, who had also served as a producer on “This Is Us,” went to visit Deaver to talk about bringing the character to the small screen.

“We talked to [Deaver] about what our plans were, and he got excited and we went to our studio and this was all right before the last season of ‘This Is Us’ was even filmed,” Hartley said. “We got them excited and then we ended up finding a great network in CBS and it’s just sort of all worked out. And here we are a couple years later and ready to go finally.”

Hartley found intrigue in why Shaw became a survivalist.

“He’s definitely a unique character. I mean, a guy who learns all of these skills are kind of rare. People don’t necessarily know how to do all of this stuff,” Hartley said. “Most people don’t. Given his childhood, his very rough upbringing…he learns all of these skills and just the idea that he would grow up and as an adult use all of those skills to help other people, I think is very easy to root for.”

He doesn’t view Shaw as an “anti-hero,” despite the fact “he might bend the law” occassionally.

“He might work outside the law, but just as a means to get justice or to help someone in need. He’s not an intentional rule breaker,” Hartley said. ”He does it all. He’s a businessman.”

“Tracker” is scheduled to premiere Sunday following Super Bowl LVIII on CBS.

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