Here’s the scenario. Decades ago, a spaceship crashed in Alaska; it contained beings that look human, but aren’t human at all. These people from another planet age more slowly than humans and have several genetic differences. Some survived the wreck and now covertly live among the public, while the remaining injured beings were detained by the US government, which now wants to leak their existence to the nation.
So that’s the synopsis of new sci-fi drama The Event, which kicks off on UAE screens this week. The story unfolds through the eyes of central character Sean Walker, who gets caught in the middle. We met Jason Ritter, who plays Sean, to hear his side of the story.
Tell us how your character fits into the tale.
I play Sean Walker, who is dating Leila Buchanan [Sarah Roemer] and, frankly, can’t believe his luck. Basically, he’s a nice guy who went to [US university] MIT. He has some secrets, but his main drive is his love for his almost-fiancée, and he’ll do anything to get her back after she disappears in the pilot. That means he has to do a lot of crazy things.
What attracted you to playing an action character?
I’m always looking to try new and different things. I got to show so many different sides of this character in the pilot. In a lot of other series, they want to make sure that everyone knows who your character is, right off the bat. This character was by far the most intriguing one for my age range.
Will we see you in full action mode?
Oh, yeah. In the two episodes after the pilot, there is some crazy, crazy stuff.
Have you had to learn how to do anything new?
I had to learn guns. I didn’t have to do anything with guns in the first few episodes, but there was a swimming scene. Sean is a great swimmer, and luckily I’m a good swimmer.
How do you feel about the comparisons to Jack Bauer on 24, or Jack Shephard on Lost?
Those are pretty scary because they’re both incredible characters. People enjoy when a character is fully developed because you know their history and you know why they react to certain things the way they do. One of the things I loved about Jack Shephard was that because of his past, you know why he needs to fix everything. That makes him more human. Sean Walker is similar – he’s completely thought-out, psychologically, which explains why he does the things he does.
Because there’s such a range of emotion, is it difficult to go from one extreme mood to another?
The only days that are interesting are the days where it shifts from one mood to another, like when I find out that my girlfriend has disappeared, and it went from thinking my car’s not working to my life is crumbling. That was really interesting. But the way Jeff [Reiner] directs is so immediate that there’s not too much time to think in between. You just jump right into it and it’s really exciting. But, there were a couple of times where I got a little light-headed from hyperventilating.
Do the flashbacks on the show help keep things more fresh?
That’s the other thing. There’s such a full story to divulge. The writers basically know what the story is; the whole trick is figuring out in what order to tell it, what information to divulge about these characters and how to keep it exciting, human and realistic. Everything was really thought-out.
What is it like to have to be so secretive about a project that you’re a part of?
It’s hard. It’s great that they don’t tell us a lot, because I have a really hard time not divulging everything.
How much have you been informed on what will transpire, to guide your character as you go along?
We all knew as much as our characters knew when we first started. As the episodes come out, we learn more about who they are, but generally we don’t know a whole heck of a lot.
The Event premieres on December 1 at 9pm on HD Series.