(l-r) Laura Innes, Ian Anthony Dale, Jason Ritter, Bill Smitrovich, Blair Underwood,
Lisa Vidal, Željko Ivanek of THE EVENT. [Photo Credit: NBC]
With much fanfare, The Event premiered last September on NBC. Ratings have been okay considering its competition at the beginning of the season with Dancing with the Stars and Two and a Half Men. After a hiatus in late 2010, the series has come back with the remaining episodes for this season that are scheduled to air without interruption each week until the season finale. No word has been given as to whether The Event will be renewed for a second season. In our earlier interview with series creator Nick Wauters and actor Ian Anthony Dale, we asked whether The Event can wrap up its storylines this season in case it is not renewed.
For this interview we spoke, on different occasions, to Jason Ritter with Sarah Romer and to Blair Underwood with Željko Ivanek. Much of The Event is told through the eyes of Jason's character, Sean Walker, who gets caught up in circumstances beyond his control when his fiancee (Roemer) disappears while they are on a Caribbean cruise. In trying to find her, he discovers both that all evidence of her being on the cruise has vanished and that there is a plan to assassinate the President of the United States (played by Blair Underwood) by using a jet plane as a weapon somewhat mirroring the events of 9-11. Željko Ivanek plays Director of National Intelligence Blake Sterling, who has kept many secrets from the President most notably the existence of a colony of alien beings that have been detained at a secret facility in Alaska for decades.
The series had employed a unique narrative technique in that there would be frequent time jumps back and forth with each change of scene, and that the same action would be viewed through multiple vantage points. This technique will be scaled back or outright eliminated with the run of episodes beginning with the series' return on March 7.
USTOWNHALL SPEAKS TO JASON RITTER, SARAH ROEMER, BLAIR UNDERWOOD, & ŽELJKO IVANEK OF THE EVENT:
USTH: When you first read that original pilot script, what was it about the initial premise of The Event that appealed to you that you wanted to audition for it?
JASON RITTER: I guess I'll start with selfishly for me I was really 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 led into the cockpit.
And that was really exciting. And I think on a show that goes back and forth in time, you get to jump back and forth between sort of emotional states much more than you do on a show that's just continuous. So that was exciting.
And I was really just intrigued by everything else in the pilot – the characters. I wanted to know more about every single character that I read. I wanted to know where the plane went, who these people were. So, it was really intriguing in a way that a lot of the other pilots weren't for me.
There were a lot of shows where you read it and you said, "okay, well, I'm sure that there is another body next week" or whatever it is. You know, the sexual tension between the two leads slowly rises up. I don't know. It just wasn't as intriguing as this. But this was a script where I got to the end, and I needed to know what happened. I was intrigued by almost everything about it.
SARAH ROEMER: Yeah. I was intrigued by almost everything about it as well. But, for me it was – I flipped through it so quickly and just the end I need to know what happened. I needed to know how in the world are they going to explain this plane that just disappeared out of the sky. When we were filming it, in my head I was thinking, "How in the world are they going to show that? How are they going to really make that work?"
And I was so impressed when I saw it. I thought it all looked incredible, and the rigging of all the tables and all being blasted away. I mean, I loved the script and I really wanted to be the first to find out what happens next. And I sat down with everybody and talked to them about their ideas and what their vision was for the show, and I was sold and really wanted to be a part of it.
(l-r) Sarah Roemer (Leila Buchanan), Jason Ritter (Sean Walker)
[Photo Credit: NBC]
USTH: The Event has such a big ensemble cast. Are there any particular actors or cast members that you would like to work with more that you haven't had the opportunity to do so as of yet?
SARAH ROEMER: You know, I think it's such a terrific cast. I can't wait for the bell to ring. I really want to work with Kristin, Laura, and Blair – everybody – Bill, they're all – I really can't wait for [my character to come] across those characters, which I think is bound to happen.
JASON RITTER: Yeah, you know, I'm the same way. It's hard to choose, but I would love to do some scenes with Blair and Željko and it's hard to imagine at this point when I'm a fugitive on the run. It's not like I can just waltz into the Oval Office and say, "Hey guys, what's going on. By the way, I got some information for you."
But, I also really want to get to work with Laura Innes and Ian Anthony Dale and yeah, it's the same thing. I keep on having these fantasies about who Sean Walker is going to align himself with because there's two camps now. Actually there's sort of three camps. I mean maybe Clifton Collins Jr. and I join forces against Sophia and the President. I have no idea where it's going. But I hope I get to work with every single one of them before the show is over.
(l-r) Blair Underwood (President Elias Martinez), Željko Ivanek (Blake Sterling)
[Photo Credit: NBC]
USTH: What appealed to you about the premise of The Event that made you each want to audition for it, and as actors, did all the secrecy surrounding the plotlines make it more difficult for you to create your characters?
BLAIR UNDERWOOD: Let's see. What intrigued me was the world itself and the fact that it was envisioned to be and has become a hybrid of certain genres. And many people have alluded to it being like Lost meets 24 – a political thriller/science fiction even.
So, that was fascinating to me and to find out how to navigate through the blending of those two genres and beyond that, the character itself. I found him very fascinating in how he was initially drawn and even moreso, not only the plotline – there's a lot of twists and turns – but our characters are constantly evolving and evolving pretty rapidly right now.
ŽELJKO IVANEK: Yeah. I think I had a very similar reaction. The stuff that I find really intriguing is how do ordinary people behave in extraordinary circumstances? And, that's why we have a lot of cop shows and lawyer shows and medical shows is that you're looking for situations that just always heighten the stakes.
This was a situation with very heightened stakes and very real characters caught up in them and watching them try to maneuver in a world that is so quickly getting past their grasp.
It's the kind of thing that I just really respond to and I really like him and that's certainly kind of held true as the season has gone on because you find him constantly having to shift gears and reassess where they are because the events are just coming at them so fast.
And in terms of the secrecy - I should answer that part of your question. I still don't know what "The Event" is. I don't know how many or if any of our cast members do. And in some sense, I respect the process that the writers have and that there's a story that's still evolving here and you're trying to figure out at what pace to tell it and in some sense, I know as much as my character does in that moment and that's kind of not a bad place to be.
BLAIR UNDERWOOD: Yeah. I feel the same way in terms of the secrecy, and I just haven't really pushed the issue and not asked too much because I kind of don't want to know. I just want to take the ride as the character takes the ride.
USTH: The Event has such a large cast that you don't always get to work with each other. Which cast members would each of you like to have more scenes with?
BLAIR UNDERWOOD: You know, most of my scenes are really with Željko, but I would love to have more with my family Christina Martinez [castmate Lisa Vidal] and my son. Geez. We haven't seen my son since the pilot I don't think. But yeah. But that's it.
ŽELJKO IVANEK: I don't know how this would even work plot wise but, I'd love to have some scenes and get a chance to work with Jason because...
BLAIR UNDERWOOD: Yeah.
ŽELJKO IVANEK: I think that's the Everyman heart of the story – watching him navigate all these worlds and all these things that are happening, and I love what he's doing on the show and just how much you get pulled in emotionally watching him struggle with all of this. So, I just really admire his work, and what he's done so I'd love to be able to work with him at some point.
USTH: Thanks to Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, and Željko Ivanek for speaking with us. The Event airs Monday nights on NBC.