Sci-fi TV stars often endure strange encounters with obsessive fans. It's a requisite part of the job. But Jason Ritter, star of NBC's The Event, has turned the scenario upside-down. To hear him tell the story, he's the creepy one and the fans are trying to get away. Well, one fan anyway. "There was this guy who came up to me pretty early in the show's run," Ritter recalls. "He said, 'Hey, I really like The Event. I just have to ask you: What is the Event going to be?' In hindsight, I think he was sort of making a joke. But I started to go into some of my theories about it. I could tell he wanted to go, like he was in a rush to get somewhere, but I was bending his ear a little more than he had expected. He probably expected me to say, 'Oh, yeah, ha ha, yeah, man. I don't know. We'll see. Bye.' But when I was like, 'Well, let's sit down and talk about it,' I think it weirded him out a little." Consider this a warning in case you happen to cross paths with Ritter, who plays Sean Walker on The Event, which returns from a three-month hiatus at 7 p.m. CT Monday, March 7.
Is it true that you still don't know what the Event is going to be?
"I don't. I know that there are other cast members who do. Laura Innes does and Ian Anthony Dale does. I think Blair Underwood thought he knew, but now he's not sure. Sarah Roemer and I keep having theories with each other, but we get proven wrong."
Is it a good thing that you've been kept in the dark?
"There's something nice about being in line with your character. It's harder to pretend you don't know something than to just actively not know it. Out of all of the actors, Sarah and I know the least about what's going forward. But it's been fun. I meet up with Sarah every day and we jump off into the unknown."
What was it about the premise and your character that made you want to do this show?
"Selfishly, I was intrigued by the journey of the character of Sean Walker, that he goes from this regular nice guy who's about to propose to his girlfriend to a guy pulling out a gun on a plane and demanding to be let into the cockpit. And on a show that goes back and forth in time, you get to jump back and forth between different emotional states much more than you do on a show that's just continuous. So that was exciting. I was really just intrigued by everything in the pilot. I wanted to know more about every single character that I read. I wanted to know where the plane went. It was intriguing in a way that a lot of the other pilot scripts weren't for me."
This is the first time you've played an action hero. Has it been a good experience for you?
"I've certainly learned a lot more about guns. This show marks my first shootout. I had never done that before, so that was a lot of fun. I think that my favorite stunt that I got to do was I had to pick up Agent Collier and put her in the car and then we had to drive away from this giant explosion. I had no idea exactly how giant the blast would be. I started to drive away and then all three of my rear view mirrors just turned orange for about two seconds. Then it was all over. I got out of the car and I looked at a friend's camera phone. He had recorded the whole thing. And I got scared in retrospect."
Your costars say you're the non-stop joker on the set. True?
"Yeah. We have long days sometimes and I try to keep up morale. But also realize that my jokes, which are mostly bad puns, work best at about 2 or 3 in the morning. It's a selfish thing on my part to get the biggest laugh on what's probably a lame joke by waiting until brains have stopped functioning at a high level."
What are your thoughts about the show having to endure a three-month break? Might that be bad for the show? What if viewers don't come back?
"It's a necessary break in order for NBC to be able to air the final episodes all in a row without interruption. It's a long wait, but the payoff will be all the better for it. Obviously it's something they thought a lot about, whether to take short breaks but multiple breaks or just go for one big break and then give the audience what they want once we start back up. So now there's no stopping us until the very end."