‘The Event‘ is one of the few new shows to connect with the audience. The serialized sci-fi drama aspires to be the next ‘Lost.’ In last week’s episode, viewers learned that the titular Event has something to do with aliens that are being imprisoned by the U.S. government. Jason Ritter stars as Sean Parker, an ordinary man who finds himself caught up in a massive conspiracy. So far, he’s been forced to hijack a plane, fled the landing site, woke up in a hospital, went on the run, and was picked up by the sheriffs. According to Ritter this is just the set up for the bigger story. He dished about when the Event will happen, the writers’ longterm plans, and the aliens’ agenda.
How did you feel when the ratings for ‘The Event’ came in and you realized you were starring in one of the fall’s biggest hits?
That’s always the scary moment. Everyone’s been working on a show so hard in this little bubble where no one has judged you yet and you haven’t seen how many people will watch or not watch. It was really nice to have it be only good news.
Why has Sean been targeted by this huge conspiracy?
I think that it actually has much more to do with Leila (Sarah Roemer) and her family than with Sean. I think Sean is something that everyone involved didn’t consider would be much of a problem. He just continues to be a thorn in their side.
What is it about Leila’s family?
That will be divulged. We haven’t really gotten into where Leila works and what she does for a living. I think that has a lot to do with it. We haven’t gotten into Leila’s father’s past. He might not be the family man that’s put in the terrible position that he appears to be in the first couple episodes. He might have some secrets of his own.
It’s now come out that the prisoners are aliens whose DNA is only 99% human. What’s their agenda?
They are from another place. They’re not from earth. We know that. But yet they are so similar to us. When everyone was asking, ‘Are they going to be aliens?’ before the pilot aired, technically they are but there’s much more interesting subtleties in who they are. We always think about aliens looking really different. What does it say that there’s one percent difference in DNA from them to us? Are they really so scary? We know about them generally that they are much more technologically advanced than we are. They age differently than we do. One of the things that fascinated me about the show and the relationships with all the characters is how much fear can seep in with just a tiny gap in knowledge.
They diverted the plane to the desert. What powers do they have?
As far as I understand, they don’t have powers per se. They just have more access to technology. If you imagined some of the things that seemed like magic back in the Middle Ages like magnets, people didn’t understand how there could be an attraction between the two metals. There are certain things like wormholes or time travel and teleporting that we think are impossible. We don’t have the technology but then we put people on the moon and did these incredible things that people thought were impossible. It’s just the unknown that makes us nervous, but it could be something that’s in our grasp.
Will this all tie in with the President eventually?
The government storyline has started to converge with my storyline. Obviously, they would want to know everyone on the plane so they are aware that I am out there. They have everyone on the plane accounted for except for this Sean Walker guy. What I hope is that President Martinez (Blair Underwood) and Sean Walker are on the same side trying to uncover the truth and figure it all out. It would be great if Sean could just get to the president. I feel like he would be much more protected. But I feel like they’re going to keep me on the run for a little while.
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What exactly happened on the cruise ship?
That’s something he will find out. We all got these character bios at the table read that told us what out characters knew and didn’t know. I had already gotten a strange sense from Wes Ramsey and Taylor Cole, but I would go up to them and say, ‘Who are you guys really? You’re more than meets the eye.’ They’d go, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re just a couple on the cruise.’ But even what I expected wasn’t exactly what came to be for the two of them.
How far ahead have the writers mapped out the storyline?
They have the broad strokes for five seasons. They’ve really plotted out much more specifically these first two. There’s some flexibility, but the general plan is all there. They know what the Event is. So do a couple of the actors. If their characters knew what the Event is then they got to find out, which I’m very jealous of. They know where it’s going and when the Event is going to happen. A lot of the story they want to tell takes place in the aftermath of the Event so the Event is not going to be a season six thing that everyone is bored of waiting for. They’re getting through all of the pre-stories and they’ll get to the Event. I don’t know if it will be an episode, or a couple episodes. I’m excited to find out what it is.
Who in the cast knows what the Event is?
I know for a fact that Laura Innes (Sophia) knows. I know for a fact that Ian Anthony Dale (Simon) knows. I didn’t think Blair Underwood knew because I din’t think that the President knows, but I think he does. He’s let something slip one time that made me think he knows more than he should know. When he got the part maybe they briefed him on everything. I know one of the things that Blair was really concerned about before signing on to the show was, Is this another show that’s being made up as it goes along and fizzles out? I think he wanted to know where it was going. They are real tight lipped about it. I keep on trying to get it out of them.
Have you offered them bribes, perhaps money or home cooked meals?
I certainly have offered them all of those things. It’s turned me into somewhat of a desperate person. There’s a part of me that would be disappointed if they told me. Some of the fun of it for me is that I can try my hardest and they’re never going to tell me. I’ve pretended like I just heard about it and I know what it is and I just wanted to discuss it with them. That tactic didn’t work. I’ve tried bartering with fake secrets that I found out about Sean Walker, saying, ‘Oh boy. This one will blow your mind.’ Nothing. I don’t get anything.
Do you have any idea which episode the Event happens?
I don’t know. This is a total guess. As far as I understand, it’s either going to be towards the end of season one or towards the beginning of season two. Of course, I could be wrong. It could come in episode eight.
Will Sean ever get a chance to propose to Leila?
I hope so. Sarah and I have gotten to do some flashback scenes, which is always nice. They’re more relaxed than our present moments. I think they have a good shot at getting back together.
Are the aliens a force for good or a force that needs to be contained?
That’s the big question. I think it’s one that Blair’s [character] is really wrestling with. Initially he believed they’re there for the betterment of mankind. He trusted them. But sometimes if an animal is really sick, we as pet owners make the decision to put them down. The question is, are they there for our benefit or are they there in a neutral way to become fellow citizens of this planet, or are they there to cause some damage. I’ve read seven episodes and I’ve gone back and forth each episode as to how I feel about should he let them out or should he not.