Their relationship on This Is Us is off to a rough start, but don’t dismiss a romantic story line for Olivia (Janet Montgomery) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) just yet. In only two episodes on the NBC drama, Olivia has told her new costar point-blank that he sucks, angrily left him in a bar, tricked him into going to a stranger’s memorial service and told him that their one-time heated hookup could never, ever happen again.
Despite her dramatic entrance, Montgomery is defending Olivia’s harsh personality. “There’s no part of her that’s trying to be mean to him,” Montgomery tells Us Weekly. “She takes what she does very seriously. She is manipulative with Kevin, but only in order to help serve him in the play.”
While Olivia has served Kevin with cutting one-liners and a hot-and-cold attitude, Montgomery explains there’s a method to her character’s madness. “She thinks that he isn’t real and she’s trying to get a real performance out of him,” the U.K. native tells Us. “But Kevin actually teaches her a lot about herself. As it goes on, you realize that she’s not as real as she thinks she is and Kevin isn’t as fake as she thinks he is.”
Playing the manipulative actress doesn’t come easy for Montgomery, 31, who also stars as lead witch Mary on WGN America’s Salem. “I have a very British politeness to me, where I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” she explains. “It’s quite difficult for me, playing Olivia, it makes my skin crawl.”
Although she doesn’t exactly relate to her cunning character, Montgomery does see the good in her role. “I think Olivia comes across one way, and you feel this way about her and then the layers start to be peeled back and you start to understand her more as a person,” she says. “Someone will come along and be very honest and cutting with you and you think, ‘What a bitch,’ but Olivia will help you understand those people.”
Tell Us: Do you want Olivia and Kevin to end up together?
This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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