Jason Ritter’s movie A Bag of Hammers premiered at SXSW last month. There’s another chance to see it at the Newport Beach Film Festival from April 28 to May 5. Ritter and co-star/co-writer Jake Sandvig play a duo of con artists who pose as valets at funerals. They take your car, but never bring it back. I spoke with Ritter in Austin after the premiere screening.
CraveOnline: How tricky is it to be likeable when you’re playing a con artist who scams people at funerals?
Jason Ritter: One of the fun things as an actor is to find a character that if you were to look up a rap sheet about them, you might say, “I don’t really necessarily want to hang out with this guy” or “I would never be this kind of guy in my life.” I think it’s part of an actor’s job to say, “Maybe you could be.” We’re all one or two steps away from doing things that in this lifetime we would never consider, but you never know. Taking away people’s ability to make snap judgments about a certain character, you pretend like you’re a little lawyer for the character. You say, “Well, okay, that is bad, but also these good qualities. Don’t discount those.”
CraveOnline: Are movies the way we get to experience those sort of characters in a fascinating way?
Jason Ritter: Yeah, you’re forced to, well, not forced but you sit down with them for 90 minutes. So you give them a chance. I think it is a nice way. A lot of times in our lives for various reasons we meet someone that rubs us the wrong way and we feel like we don’t want to spend that much time with them but when you know it’s only 90 minutes…
CraveOnline: Did you know Jake Sandvig already?
Jason Ritter: We had met a couple times. I thought Jake was really nice so then over the years, I would see a preview of something Jake was in and be like, “Oh man, that’s that nice dude.” Then I’d never hang out with him, but we didn’t meet each other and exchange numbers or anything. Just a nice guy in the world.
CraveOnline: What was the first screening like?
Jason Ritter: The best are the unexpected laughs that you never would have noticed but then it all of a sudden points out something you go, “Yeah, that is funny. I could see how someone would take that moment as funny or I could see why someone would need to laugh at that particular moment just to make a sound.”
CraveOnline: How did you get injured on Bag of Hammers?
Jason Ritter: We were shooting a bunch of shots of us walking around with the valet sign, just different parts of Los Angeles. At one point I was carrying the sign underneath my arm. It’s an awkward size because it’s exactly the length of my arm. So if it was under my armpit, I could barely get the tips of my fingers around the bottom. We were running and it just slipped out and the corner just smashed me right on the toe.
CraveOnline: Is this the kind of film you expect to get an injury on?
Jason Ritter: No, but it’s the kind of film that I’m proud to get an injury on.
CraveOnline: Are you still shooting The Event or are you done for the year?
Jason Ritter: We’re still shooting until April 27.
CraveOnline: Do you have a sense of how NBC feels about a second season?
Jason Ritter: We don’t know yet but the network seems to be really behind the show. It’s been doing really well internationally so I think that the more people watch, the more solidified we’ll be in that second season but I’m pretty hopeful now.
CraveOnline: When you look at the first season as a whole, how will you feel about the story?
Jason Ritter: I can’t wait. We’re almost to the end of the first season and it has gotten so crazy. They really ratcheted it all up and everything is just different. It’s really exciting. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue for years to come but if it’s just one amazing kick-ass season then I’ll be happy with that.
CraveOnline: Have you noticed the industry seeing you differently after that role?
Jason Ritter: You know, I’m still sort of in the Event bubble so I haven’t really noticed. We’re just working as hard as we can on this so it’s actually nice to get out and come see this movie with an audience. It was a long time before The Event so it’s just so great to see.
CraveOnline: You have other movies still doing festivals too, right?
Jason Ritter: Yeah, there’s a movie called The Perfect Family that I did that’s going to Tribeca. There’s a couple others that are still in the editing process and they’ll eventually start applying to festivals as well, so we’ll see.
CraveOnline: What is your creative life like in L.A.?
Jason Ritter: The Silent Movie Theater, Cinefamily took over is another great one. I love going there. It’s so great.
CraveOnline: Do you get to go much with your shooting schedule?
Jason Ritter: I haven’t gone recently just because a lot of times I’m either working on that day or the next day is something. A lot of times when I’m there I like to go there and hang out afterwards so I need two or three days.
CraveOnline: Did you grow up in a really creative environment?
Jason Ritter: Yeah, I went to a high school that really supported that kind of stuff. The group of friends that I fell into are all creative types, whether they were actors or photographers or directors or writers. So a lot of them stayed real close and we’d just get together and make each other laugh for hours at a time. That’s a lot of fun.