‘Tracker’ Star Justin Hartley Teases What to Expect in Season 2 After That Revealing Finale

In Sunday night’s Season 1 finale of “Tracker,” Colter Shaw (Justin Hartley) learned there are even more mysteries surrounding his late father than he realized — and that everyone else in his family seems to know more about it than he does.

TheWrap spoke with Hartley before the episode premiered about what we can expect in Season 2, plus some of the unusual stats that his character racked up in Season 1.

Hartley also told us how much we can expect to see Colter’s siblings Russell (Jensen Ackles) and Dory (Melissa Roxburgh), as well as the actor’s real-life wife Sofia Pernas, who plays fellow reward-seeker Billie Matalon.

TheWrap: In the finale, we find out there’s a mysterious box with papers that belongs to Colter’s father, that his sister Dory has it for some reason — and that his father was having an affair with the mother of Jennifer Morrison’s character.

Justin Hartley: There’s more story to tell with this box and the affair, all that stuff, all those bombs that she dropped in the finale. The writers have created a bunch of opportunities to dive back into Colter’s past and figure out all that rich character stuff.
Now that we’ve met his brother Russell, we realize that it’s not likely after all that he killed their father. Their mother was lying to Colter.

Colter had no idea what his dad was up to, except for the fact that his dad was this paranoid weirdo, that it was getting worse and that his brother killed him. It’s like, what a crazy mess up the family. Then to find out after 20 years that’s not what actually happened, and that maybe everyone in the family knows more about it than you — that’s crazy, right? I think that’s why he’s just sitting in silence on the beach at the end.

Let’s talk about Russell. He made his first appearance last week. It seems like you and Jensen are having fun.

He’s amazing. We’ve been friends for a long, long time. [Shortly after] he started “Supernatural,” I started “Smallville” and we knew each other from those days. We’re working in the same city on the same network [The WB, later The CW] and away from home, so you kind of bond that way. And we just remain friends.

How did Jensen end up getting cast as Russell?

I was watching a football game on TV one day and he saw the ads coming on [for “Tracker”]. He texted me, “Will you please take your ugly mug off my screen? I’m trying to watch this football game.” Then I texted him and said, “You should come play my brother,” and he said, “When and where?” And that was it. Then he came in and did an excellent job, and I think we have so much more storytelling between those two.

Then Melissa Roxburgh deployed as my sister Dory. I thought that was perfect casting. We got [former “This is Us” costar] Jennifer Morrison as Lizzy. We’ve had a ton of excellent guest stars, we’ve been very lucky.

Do you have any idea how much we’re going to see Russell next season?

In a perfect world, we’d see him as much as we can. He’s a busy guy, though. So we’ll see what we can do, and the same thing with Melissa. We don’t need eight or nine times, but it would be good to have a few with him and a few with Sofia. I think we can sprinkle Sofia in a little more, just because there’s that backstory with Billie and Colter and trying to figure out what the hell that was with Jennifer Morrison’s character.

When you think of Russell throughout the series, you think of this guy that’s probably damaged and not a good guy, and that he killed their father. Then when you meet him, it sort of turns that character on his head.

We also learned that Reenie (Fiona Rene) has quit her job. Do you think that means she’ll be working closer with Colter?

I think it means she needs to find a better job, because the bills don’t stop. And I think it’s going to give her more free time to do stuff. I think we’ll see her out in the field a little bit more doing other things on her own.

And Colter still needs someone to bail him out of jail now and then.

I think he was thrown in jail three times in Season 1. [laughs]

Have you kept track of how many times he’s been injured? I count maybe two gunshots and one stabbing.

Yeah, two gunshots, that might be it. I’m keeping track of the times that I personally get injured more than Colter, because he seems to bounce back quicker than I do.

How have you been injured?

Oh, I’m fine. But in the course of a show like this, you get banged up here and there. It’s like being an athlete. You’re never 100%. And then during your hiatus, your body finally starts to regenerate and you feel good again. Then boom, you hit. And you’re always a little bit dinged up, but it’s worth it. It’s fine. We’re all very safe.

We do have a running joke though, of how many times Colter has broken the law. Our grips department put together a list and it’s ridiculous. My idea was to have, maybe at the end of Season 2, my wrap gift to everyone is going to be a hoodie that lists all of the things that he’s done — like assault, breaking and entering, kidnapping, all that stuff. But it’s a long list already. Every episode, he’s doing something illegal, right?

What was the most physically demanding scene to shoot in Season 1?

Gosh, we get pretty physical. Probably in the very first episode where we had to do close-ups of hanging off that truck. Even though I was strapped in and I wasn’t going to fall, when you tried hanging your whole body from one arm for 45 minutes, your arm went numb for like three days. That was probably the most physically demanding, just because it was awkward.

But other than that, I enjoy it. I enjoy the fight scenes and all that stuff. I got a kick out of it.

Do you ever make suggestions for scenarios you’d like to see Colter get into?

Part of me thinks I want to do a water episode, and then I’m like, “What the hell is wrong with you? You’re not doing a water episode.” Those take twice as long, they’re twice as hard and you’re in the water. But I think we have to do one, just because it’s cool. Yeah, I’m up for anything.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

“Tracker” is now streaming on Paramount+.

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