After a three-month hiatus, NBC’s conspiracy drama “The Event” returns at 7 tonight with back-to-back episodes. One of its stars, Jason Ritter, is looking forward to watching and theorizing on the show’s plot lines with family and friends as much as any fan of “The Event.” With twists and turns in the story, even some of the actors aren’t always sure what direction the show will take. Ritter, 31, of Los Angeles, plays Sean Walker, an “everyman” character who stumbled upon a government cover-up while searching for his missing girlfriend, Leila Buchanan (Sarah Roemer), during the beginning of the season. Sean’s quest has directly affected the lives of newly elected U.S. President Elias Martinez (Blair Underwood); Sophia (Laura Innes), the leader of a group of alien detainees; and Leila’s shadowy father, Michael (Scott Patterson), as a global conspiracy collision course that could ultimately change the fate of mankind has been put into play. Ritter, son of the late television actor John Ritter and actress Nancy Morgan, expressed excitement in a recent phone interview about resuming his ritual of viewing “The Event” at his mother’s house with a group of friends and then speculating on the show afterward. The actor, who is also the grandson of National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum inductee Tex Ritter, has appeared on stage, screen and other television series including “Parenthood,” “Joan of Arcadia” and “The Class.” Q: The romantic story line your character shares with Leila is such an important aspect of the show. Can you talk about working on that angle of the story? A: Yeah ... that’s always something that is tricky, especially because, you know, most of the time you don’t get to really meet the person before, or spend any time with them, and all the sudden you have to pretend like you’ve been in a relationship with them for years. And so, it can always go one of two ways, and luckily for me, Sarah Roemer is such a lovely person and such a pleasure to be around, that ... we were able to sort of just take our nice, warm feelings for each other and pretend that we’ve known each other for years and that we’ve appreciated and loved each other. But ... it’s always tough. What I try to do is look at the person and find things that I can sort of fall in love with about them, and do that, so that it’s specific to them, as opposed to, “Oh, this is how I feel when I’m in love with anyone.” I always try to find little things, and Sarah has lots of little things that are very easy to swoon over. Q: Is it true that you don’t know much in advance about what’s going to happen in the story? A: That’s true. I know script-to-script what’s gonna happen. But there are other actors who are working on the show who do know more. They might not know exactly how they’re going to get there, but I know that Laura Innes and Ian Anthony Dale and a couple of the other actors know what “The Event” is ... because they have to talk about it. They have to know what they’re talking about, so that when they say it, they know the full gravity of what kind of thing they’re talking about. Some people know more than others, but since I’m the guy who’s discovering it all as I go along, there was really no need to tell me anything, and I could figure out no excuses why I should know more. But, you know, it’s fun that way. I really like it ... I’m the kind of guy who loves waiting for the answers. That’s part of it for me, is the anticipation. As much as I love also seeing a bunch of episodes in a row, I love being able to chew on the mystery in between. Q: Was the hiatus frustrating to you? A: The initial reaction is, “Well, no, I want to see them ... tomorrow,” but the fact of the matter is that it takes us as long as it takes us to shoot an episode, and so we wouldn’t get the final episode any sooner than we would anyway. And, I think at the end of the day, when I really sat down and thought about it, to not exactly know when those breaks were gonna come and assume that there’s gonna be a new episode next week and then all of a sudden find out, “Oh, you know, it’s a rerun, or it’s not a new episode,” that, to me, would be more frustrating than just being sort of forced to wait this entire time, but then knowing that when it comes back, every Monday until the very end, there will be a new episode, so that’s really exciting to me. Q: What do you think your dad would like about “The Event” and your role in it? A: He always really liked ... Hitchcock movies, and movies in which an everyman is put into impossible circumstances and watching them try to figure it out, and I think he would’ve liked that element. Sean, I mean, he’s a hacker, he does have that, but generally he’s closer to most of us than someone who’s been trained in the field, or some like James Bond-type character, or someone who knows espionage and knows how to defend himself and things like that. I think that’s one of the fun elements in the show, and I think he would’ve enjoyed that. He also liked mysteries, so he would’ve loved to be putting it all together.
InsideSee an interview with Blair Underwood of “The Event.” Page 3c