In super fun quantum leap Episode “A Fair Proposal”, Dr. ben songRaymond Lee) finds himself in 1980s Los Angeles after jumping into bounty hunter Eva Sandoval. There, Ben quickly becomes involved in a little drama when he realizes he’s in the body of the woman who Jake (guest star Justin Hartley) is a partner in both work and love, and no matter how hard he tries, keeps her focused on her newest target, Tammy Jean (guest star Sofia PernaHartley’s real wife), all Jake wants is an answer about their future together.
During this 1-on-1 with Collider, Hartley talked about guest-starring on this episode of the NBC reboot, how big a fan he was of the original series, how he balanced the action with the comedy, how the structure of quantum leap feels like each episode is its own mini-movie, and it’s fun to jump into different words when guest-starring. He also spoke about how the incredibly successful run of This is us gave him a chance to be more selective about his projects and revealed which other TV series he would like to guest star in.
Collider: I had so much fun with this episode, A Fair Proposal. It is a romantic comedy/action adventure film.
JUSTIN HARTLEY: Yeah, we had a lot of fun.
How did that happen? Who came to you with the idea? what did they say What was your reaction to doing all of this?
HARTLEY: My wife Sofia [Pernas] and I went to dinner. Sofia is friends with Dean Georgaris, who serves as executive producer quantum leap. She has worked with him before, on a project called The brave. That’s how they got to know each other and stayed in touch. Dean and his wife invited Sofia and I to dinner and we all sat and talked. It was pointed out that he’s doing this show and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I was a fan of quantum leap forever.” I remember the original. I love Scott Bakula. I love quantum leap. I remember watching it and just absolutely loving the show. I said to him, “Hey, honestly, if there’s ever room for me to come and play with you guys, I’d love to.” And then, lo and behold, the next day, Dean called Sofia and said, “I actually have this thing I’m writing right now, which is not only perfect for you, but for Sofia too, if you guys want to come in and help us out.” and play with us.” I thought, “Well, that sounds great.” And then he explained the two characters and said I was going to arrest my wife, which was fun. I got to work with her, which was wonderful. I haven’t worked with her in ages. I need to hang out with her and be there quantum leap. It was the best of every world imaginable.
You’ve been doing this acting for a while now, but do you get nervous when you do a new project? Is there always some nervousness the first day you step onto a set, no matter what it is?
HARTLEY: I’ll tell you if I get nervous about seeing it for the first time, or if someone says, “Hey, I have a screener of your movie, and we’re going to watch it tonight,” and I have it did. I did not see it. Then I get nervous. I say, “Shit, I didn’t see it,” or even if I did, I get nervous. But then I just remind myself that people will say what they say. I look at the opportunities I am given and how much fun I am having on set and the wonderful people around me and what a blessing it is to be able to make a living from it. You take the good with the bad. People have been very, very kind to me lately, so I’ve been very lucky. But then I get nervous.
You always want your work to be well received and for people to really enjoy what you do and get the message. I’m so glad to hear you say you had so much fun with this show because we weren’t fools, but it’s set in 1981 and the wardrobe is what it is. This lends itself to comedy. It’s a different time. It was 40 years ago and people spoke differently, thought differently and dressed differently. I thought we could have a lot of fun with it. It’s a fun era. We had a great time with it. I’m glad you liked it.
I love the little details on this show. I couldn’t stop laughing when your character tells Eva to look up where they are going using a Thomas guide because those things have been the bane of my existence.
HARTLEY: Yeah, and she’s like, “What’s that?” Exactly.
There’s something inherently funny about watching someone try to work out their relationship in the middle of an action movie. What was it like finding the tone and finding that comedy groove when you only had one episode to do it?
HARTLEY: It can be tough. I think a lot of that is the writing. Dean did a really good job designing those beats and making sure we had action where we needed action and we had comedy where we needed the comedy and then blended the two when needed. [Raymond Lee] trying to be that woman he never met. Jake probably notices that she’s acting a little different than usual, so you have that as a comedic beat too. And then there’s some really serious stuff going on. They have a maniac who shoots people dressed all in pink. We had lots of fun. Sofia and I laugh about the show the whole time. It was a great time. I wish we could have done more.
It’s so interesting because this is a show where each episode is essentially a pilot. There’s a new cast, a new setting, and a whole new world every time. When I spoke to Raymond Lee, he told me that he sees himself as a guest star in each of these worlds and not the other way around. How did that affect the atmosphere on set? Did it even feel like a guest performance? Does it feel like you’re making your own little mini-movie?
HARTLEY: It does, yes. It was fun. [Raymond] is right in a way because you get to meet all these new characters, but at the same time he takes on a whole new persona in every episode. It’s really a series of mini-movies or one-offs. They have a whole story about trying to get him back and I get that, but as far as the action stuff or the story goes, per episode, that’s the procedural element. You’ve got a whole new cast of characters and a problem to solve, and hopefully it gets wrapped up in the end.
How was it preparing for it and doing all the physical and stunt work for it? What did you enjoy most about the stunts you actually had to do? Were there any challenges pulling it off in such a limited amount of time?
HARTLEY: It sure is good to have a good stunt double. I enjoy the stuff, honestly. I’m working on a show right now that has a lot of stunts and it’s just something I haven’t done in a long time. With This is us, there were lots of tears, lots of laughter and lots of great scenes, but not much physical action. It’s like everything else, every time you get a chance to do something a little different and that’s a little bit more action-based, it’s always fun. Diving into new characters is always fun, or at least it should be. It was great. You have a great group of people over there. Everyone has a really great attitude. It’s fun to be part of something brand new. Even though it’s a reboot, it’s a brand new show and it has its own familiar aura. It has its own brand. Even if it says quantum leapit’s a whole different show and it’s fun to step into another world.
As someone who has strayed from playing a character This is us, in which you had to live and evolve for six seasons and that show was so successful and so popular with its audience, how much does that influence what you want to do after that? Have you found yourself giving a lot more thought to the things you want to do?
HARTLEY: Absolutely, and not just because it was This is us. This is us Basically I had the opportunity to be more selective, to be honest. For me it’s all about character and the people I work with. If I can have a great character, whether it’s funny or serious or both, it should always be fun no matter what. And when you’re working with a great group of people who are exciting and inspiring, and you have a great story to tell, whether it’s in a week or six years or 10 years or whatever it is, that is it what attracts me.
I’m at a point in my life where I have a really great family around me. My daughter is doing great. My wife is a lovely, wonderful person. I love being at her house. Starring in anything, be it a guest star or a regular series, a movie, a play or whatever, it’s time consuming. It’s a labor of love. You love doing it, but it takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you want to go through with it and do it right. It’s definitely a blessing to be able to look at things and be a little bit more selective or discerning about what you do because it takes you away from where you are in life, which is a really great place.
This one was fun. I got to work with my wife and we had a great time. Hopefully we made some people laugh. Hopefully we left the show as good as we found it, and hopefully even a little bit better. Hope we helped a little. It was just so nice of them to have us. They were so wonderful to us and treated us like gold. we loved it We wish them all the best over there. It’s a fun show and a great group of people.
Is there another show you’d like to guest star on? Is there anything you watch that you’d like to show up for?
HARTLEY: Of course, successor would be a blast. I would like to do this show. That would be fun. That would be the opposite of This is us. You can be rude on this show.
quantum leap will air Monday night on NBC.
https://collider.com/justin-hartley-quantum-leap-interview-this-is-us/ Justin Hartley Talks Guest Starring on Quantum Leap Episode 4 & This Is Us