Jason Ritter's 'Perfect' Families
Jason Ritter stars in an excellent new film called The Perfect Family, where the characters comprise a clan that is anything but. From The Cleary's blindly devout mother to her lesbian daughter and directionless son, the film is a fascinating portrait of a modern American family -- one that puts the fun is dysfunction.
And a family that stands in stark contrast to the all-too-together Bravermans on NBC's Parenthood, where Jason plays Mark, potential fiance of eldest daughter Sarah. But what effect will his role on a potential new NBC series have on Mark's return? That was one of the questions I asked Jason when we caught up earlier this week to chat.
Insider.com: What attracted you to this movie?
Jason Ritter: I was reading and enjoying the script, but found myself worrying about how it would end – it's this very fragile material. You have to walk a tightrope while talking about these issues because they're very heavy. Especially when you're doing a comedy about it. But what I loved is that it's not about one person realizing they're wrong and renouncing everything that's important to them. There's an acceptance of each other's issues. I love that everyone shows up in the middle for each other because you don't want to alienate your entire family. It didn't oversimplify a complicated situation.
Insider: Right. It's not like everything gets wrapped up in a neat bow.
Jason: Totally. Agree or disagree with your family's choices, as long as they keep trying to show up for each other in important moments, it will be fine.
Insider: Your character has a very memorable drunk scene where he eats it pretty hard on the floor. Is there an actorly trick to making that look convincing?
Jason: [laughs] I did that at one point in a rehearsal and they liked it more than the stumble to the ground they'd originally written, so we did a full-out slam on my face. At one point they put down rugs, but there was no way to actually protect me so I just went for it. I've always thrown my body around. When I was really young, one of my best friends and I wanted to be stuntmen. We didn't know how to do that, but we figured the first step was developing a high threshold for pain so we would throw ourselves down and tumble down hills. Generally hurt ourselves. I'm used to knocks and bruises.
Insider: Was there a moment where you said, "maybe this isn't the career for me?"
Jason: Yes, there was a moment. Acting did seem a little safer of a career path.
Insider: And that seems to be working out for you. I have to say, I love Parenthood. I recently watched the whole thing on my iPad for the first time and found myself sobbing in the most random places.
Jason: Oh man, I know! And it does it in such a weird and beautiful way. The stuff that makes me cry on that show is never the sad stuff – it's always one character doing something unexpectedly nice for someone else [laughs]. It just gets me every single time. I love that show much and I feel so lucky they brought me back and that could work with those people. That's a good family.
Insider: You know fans freaked when you signed on for County -- a new pilot from Parenthood creator Jason Katims. They were worried this meant Mark wouldn't come back.
Jason: [laughs] I know! I was in a bizarre situation because it's expected for an actor to be auditioning for other roles when they're just a recurring cast member on a TV show. Looking for a regular job so you have something steady. But I love recurring on Parenthood so much and I adore the storyline Lauren [Graham, who plays love interest Sarah] and I share. I kind of felt like joining Jason's new show was the best case scenario. If both shows get picked up, it's not like he would ever have a conflict of interest. This feels like the one job where I could potentially come back to Parenthood as much as he wants me to because he can account for it on County. Hopefully it doesn't spell a fiery crash for Mr. Seer on Parenthood.
Insider: I don't know if Sarah could emotionally handle that.
Jason: Yes. I don't think they would do that – or that she could handle it [laughs]. But don't forget, I did an episode of Parenthood while shooting The Event, so NBC is usually OK with it.
Insider: I know nothing is certain, but if Parenthood does come back for another season and Mark is a part of it, what would you like to see happen?
Jason: What I really enjoyed about that relationship is they didn't go for the obvious, slightly younger man/older woman storyline. They explored what it means when two people have a real connection but at such drastically different places in their life. I love watching them explore that because they love one another so much, but are up against such huge life decisions. I would love to see her say yes and see them get married. That's my hope.
The Perfect Family is now playing.