“I’m not trying to be so vague, but I know they’ll murder me if I let anything slip,” he jokes.
Such is the problem in trying to talk about a show that’s so dependent on its big mystery: The people making it can’t really say a whole lot, and we don’t want to ruin everyone’s fun before “The Event” premieres on NBC Monday (Sept. 20). But we did manage to get a few details out of Ritter about his character, Sean Walker, a regular guy who gets caught up in a huge conspiracy when his girlfriend, Leila (Sarah Roemer), disappears from a cruise they’re taking together.
Below are some highlights of Zap2it‘s conversation with Ritter, who when we spoke last week had just wrapped his work on episode six.
Zap2it: How much more of a handle do you have on what’s happening?
Jason Ritter: I have much more of a handle on it than I did during the pilot. We’ve really come a long way from there. They don’t seem to be scared of forward momentum at all. [laughs] … So we’re in a completely different place. But every time I think, “OK, I know where this show is going,” they pull the rug out from underneath me. At the end of [episode seven], which I just got, I’m totally intrigued anew by another interesting thing.
On a show like this, do you like to know what’s coming or would you just rather react to the scripts as you get them?
There’s a part of me that just wants to know everything, but then there’s this other part of me that really enjoys being surprised. One thing that would be great — there’s no possible way to do this, but if they were to let me know every single flashback scene I was going to do over the course of the season so I knew my character’s entire back story … that would be great. But that’s impossible. … Generally I like not knowing because that’s what’s happening in our lives. We don’t necessarily know what’s coming next, and things are more surprising that way. It’s just fun. It’s like not opening all your presents in one go on your birthday.
Have the writers given you any kind of heads-up for important things happening to the character?
Yeah. For instance, I’ve always had an understanding of what my character’s home life was like. Now there’s an episode coming up where you’ll actually get to see him in the house where he grew up, so that’s really exciting. There are specifics in that scene that I wasn’t aware of, but I knew the general situation. So they have taken care of us in that they’ve given us enough general information so we’re not meeting someone and not knowing [if] we’ve ever met them before, then having a flashback where they babysat us for 18 years.
What will viewers find out about Sean in the early episodes?
One of the things you’re going to find out about Sean is … sort of what made him who he is, what makes him react to things the way he does in the pilot. Certainly I would have probably had a different reaction had I seen the girl drowning [in a scene from the show]. I don’t know if I would have jumped off that cliff — I might’ve called the authorities or tried to find a place to climb down. But all these characters have been really thought out on a lot of levels, psychologically even. It’s exciting to find out what his background is, why he is the way he is, why he lives Leila so much, why her family is so important to him, all those things.
Has there been anything about Sean that’s surprised you?
Some of the specifics of his family life were surprising to me. I knew it was a certain thing, but I didn’t know how extreme that thing is. [laughs] It’s so hard [to talk about] without saying good or bad. I’ve been surprised over and over again.
“The Event” premieres at 9 p.m. ET Monday on NBC.
Photo credit: NBC