The Event’s Massive Cast Countdown To Series Premiere

We’re looking forward to The Event here at Seriable. Anticipation for the forthcoming NBC show has been building over the past few weeks, and with the premiere just around the corner, we’re at the point where we’re ready to buckle up and see what this show has to offer.

Spinoff Online have been posting a series of interviews with the cast and crew of The Event in the run up to the premiere. We’ve already given our thoughts on what creator Nick Wauters had to say about his show. Now it’s time to pick out some interesting tidbits from members of the show’s expansive cast, including Zeljko Ivanek, Lisa Vidal, Jason Ritter, Clifton Collins, Blair Underwood, Bill Smitrovich, Laura Innes, Ian Anthony Dale and Scott Patterson.

Zeljko Ivanek talks about how he approached the show’s conspiracy concept:

I just read it. I didn’t speak to anybody before I went in for it. It was one of my favorite things I read that pilot season. And so I didn’t really get to see where they were going with it. I had conversations, later on, in particular with Jeffrey Reiner, the director of the pilot and one of the producers, talking about what they wanted to do and what they wanted to accomplish with the show. And what pitfalls they wanted to try and avoid. So I knew very little going in. And I know almost as little now, because I still don’t know what “the event” is. Some actors may think they have a clue, and that may be true, but I don’t. So I’m in for as many surprises as the audience is.

It’s interesting that at least some members of the cast still don’t know what the event actually is. I think that’s a good sign. I know that the show will look to answer questions quickly, but I don’t think there’s any need to rush one of the core mysteries of the first season.

Ivanek also offers some insight into his character, Blake Sterling:

He’s protecting the world as he knows it. And that may make some people uncomfortable. And he may make some enemies, but I think what’s going to be interesting is discovering what’s behind people’s motives for what they do. And why are people doing good things out of bad motives and bad things out of good motives. And maybe out of naïveté. I think he just has a very, very clear view of the world. And he thinks that world is threatened by this new President. And he is determined to protect it, no matter what. And that’s going to puts him in situations that are distinctly uncomfortable but he justifies them to himself. And then as we go on, hopefully, somewhere down the line, maybe, he’ll wonder, “Well, maybe I should do what’s right.” So I’m hoping that will kind of bounce back and forth as we go on.

The promos have given me an early impression of him, so it will be interesting to see how that shifts and changes over the course of the season.

So that’s Blake Sterling. but what do we know about Lisa Vidal‘s character – First Lady Christina Martinez? She talks a bit about some of her inspirations for getting into character:

I’ve always been a fan first ladies. I always thought, “What is it like to be a first lady? How cool is that?” All eyes are on you and your etiquette and how you speak and what you say is watched by everyone. And a few years prior to The Event even being in my life, I had gone out and bought this book called History of the First Ladies. And it was just because of my own curiosity and being a fan of Jackie Kennedy. I’ve read several of her autobiographies and I’ve just always been kind of fascinated by her as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, and all that, and also as a first lady, so I just happened to already be doing research and not even know that I was going to be playing a first lady.

It will be interesting to see how much of a bearing Martinez has on events. So what can we expect from her?:

Christina Martinez is very intelligent. She was an attorney when she and Elias Martinez met. So she’s definitely somebody who knows the game and she’s very influential in her husband getting the presidency. And she’s very supportive. She pretty much gave up her career so that she could support him and also raise their son but she’s very involved and very opinionated. And definitely not a wallflower. She is very outspoken and very charismatic. And I would say that she is definitely going to be very involved in the President’s decision making and what happens in the White House.

I’m glad she’s not a “wallflower”. She’s the President’s wife – an important figure, certainly behind closed doors, so it’s good to know that she’ll be fleshed out.

You can find the entire interview with Zeljko Ivanek and Lisa Vidal here.

Moving on to Jason Ritter, who you might call the show’s lead. He portrays Sean Walker, an MIT graduate whose girlfriend goes missing. But how does he compare to some of serialized television’s other leading characters?:

That’s what got me so excited about the part. I read the script and not only was it so exciting but it wasn’t some beefcake who knows martial arts, some guy that has a couple of special skills in his back pocket. He’s smart and he’s good at assessing situations and that has gotten him out of some hairy situations but, yeah, that was what I loved about it. He’s not some regular hero. He spends more time thinking about being a hero or controlling one safely using a controller on his TV screen. But now he’s forced to do it. That was something that I really loved. To have Sean terrified and out of his element adds another dimension to the character rather than him squinting and looking into the camera and saying things like, “It’s just another day in paradise” or “We’ve been down this road before.”
And he’s not so super-comfortable with a gun, either. He’ll do it whatever it takes to get his girlfriend back and he’s motivated by that, but he’s like us. He’s a regular guy.

One of the areas always fun to explore are the character’s motivations and how their actions impact on others. We see a bit of this with Sean’s character in several of The Event trailers, so what moral concepts will be examined?:

There is a little bit of a gray area. And that’s the thing. He’ll do anything to get her back and that’s where it becomes somewhat of a moral gray area. He doesn’t end up killing anybody on that plane with his gun, but if someone had come up or threatened him, would he have been able to pull the trigger, who knows? It might have been all for show or he might have been that desperate. So, I don’t know. That’s what’s interesting. All of these characters are put in these weirdly interesting situations where what the right thing to do is not such a clear-cut thing, especially for President Martinez in the next couples of episodes.

One of The Event talking points receiving quite a bit of attention right now is the fact that show was initially written as a conspiracy thriller without the sci-fi cool, until NBC requested that creator Nick Wauters incorporate some mystery box elements into the script. But does the show feel more thriller orientated, or sci-fi? Clifton Collins, who portrays Thomas on The Event, offers his view:

It’s definitely a thriller, but they are masterful at how they tell their stories, and how they reveal characters and their plots points and whatnot. So it’s very engaging. And it’s certainly not the lazy man’s TV show. You sit and watch it and you just want to learn more.

Thomas is a character we don’t know all that much about when compared to some of the other characters. So what can Collins tell us about him?:

I was added late to the cast, it was very different because they had been writing this character all along. So I guess they just weren’t really sure where they were going to go with it. It’s kind of funny for me, too. I’m a big fan of the cast and Jeffrey [Reiner]’s work on 24 andTrauma. But it’s just funny because I think it’s common knowledge that I pretty much do character work and I do all these different, crazy characters. But to go back and actually do something that is more revealing of myself as a person is pretty special. The artist behind all of the characters compiled into one person and be kind of the way I really am, all clean-shaven — I just kind of look normal [laughs], which is scary because I’m kind of revealing myself as well. I’ve had a fairly comfortable life in anonymity with just a comfortable flow of fans that are real die-hard fans – even though they’re not fanatical, they’re very courteous and cordial and respectful and insightful. They’re great and I actually enjoy the vast majority of them. So I am a little nervous because I’m really optimistic about this show. And I love working with everybody and I just know that it’s going to be a little different for me.

Anything else we should know?

I think when you see the pilot, you’ll have a pretty good idea of where I come into the story. I was blown away when I saw the pilot. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen TV like this. I was giddy. TV doesn’t usually bring me that. One of the funny things is all of my friends keep asking me what “the event” is and what part I play, and I’m not talking.

You can read the entire Jason Ritter and Clifton Collins interviews here.

Blair Underwood portrays the President of the United States, Eli Martinez. He talks about how he prepared for the role:

For me, he’s a really a culmination of a lot of different presidents. And while I did go back to study different presidents from history, I also studied different actors that have played presidents. But I focused more on the actual presidents – they are all so different. I mean their gait, their cadence, how they present themselves, each one is so different, but what I found was the one common denominator that exists in presidents is that you have to engage a lot of people so they have to believe in you. So that’s something that I’ve focused on in everything he does; to how he speaks to people to how he treats people.

Underwood reiterates that the creators have at least 5 years of The Event’s framework already mapped out, and despite the show having traces of science-fiction, in his opinion, the show is more about the political exploration:

I came on about a week before they started shooting the pilot and I sat down with the creator of the show and the producers and they laid out not only what the first episode was but really – and this is what is so impressive about this creative team – they shared what they have planned for five years in the future. Now that’s how far they’ve planned it. At the time, you only hoped that it would be picked up for series. But it was impressive that they had plotted it so far into the future and the character arcs and the mythology were so well defined.

The Event is about 95 percent political intrigue and 5 percent science fiction, so there is that science-fiction element and you really have to figure out what all those elements are, and they did.

Bill Smitrovich plays Vice President Raymond Jarvis. He talks about his character:

I feel just like Joe Biden [laughs]. But no, I just enjoy playing this character. He’s a multi-faceted politician and it allows your imagination to run wild when you think about an administration that includes a president and a vice president like Martinez and Jarvis.

He’s from Louisiana but he doesn’t do a Cajun bayou accent [laughs]. I look at him as a guy that’s willing to cross party lines as well as in his own party. I look at him as somebody who has the president’s back. It’s going to get complicated because there are some seeds that are sewn in the first couple of episodes with my character that I really don’t want to ruin anything for anybody, but the seeds will be sewn and in later episodes we’ll start to investigate those seeds and have them grow a little bit and I think Hal will be involved in that, too. But I’ve got to say, I really love to see what they throw at us from week to week. It’s a lot like when you wake up in the morning you don’t know what you’re going to get.

You can catch the entire Blair Underwood and Bill Smitrovich interviews here.

Although the show is yet to start, one of the characters we are most intrigued by is Sophia Maguire, played by Laura Innes. One of the things that caught our attention a while back while reading up on Sophia’s character, is that she was originally conceived as a male, but changed by the producers when Innes showed interest in the role. She provides some back-story on Maguire’s gender switch:

What happened to me was that I read a lot of pilots and a lot of the pilots that I read, for me anyways, were fairly derivative. Sort of a lot of procedurals, so there wasn’t that much that was jumping off the page. And I’m also a director so that’s kind of what I do when I’m not acting, so that’s an active part of my life. So I knew I had that and I wasn’t actively looking for a show but my manager called me and he said, “I think you should read the script. I think it’s really good. And they’re interested in you.”

So I read the script without even knowing what part, and I really liked the script. I just thought it was really well done and I thought [creator] Nick [Wauters] did a great job on the pilot. It was just very fun and real, genuine page-turner. So I said, “What part?” and they said, “The vice president.” And I wasn’t really interested in that part. So I said, “Tell them good luck because I think it’s great.” So then he called me back and said, “What if they change the character, I think his name was Terry or something, to a woman?” And I said, “Well that’s really an interesting part.” Because in the pilot, you just don’t know who is this mysterious figure. And are they good or are they bad? And there is this sense that they are very powerful but you don’t know what the source of the power is. And to me it was great that they turned that character into a woman because it’s also – I mean, from my vantage point – expected when they say in the pilot, “Come meet the leader,” that it’s going to be a man and then this sort of soft, at least initially soft, woman comes in. And that’s great.

Honestly, for somebody in my age category, this is a really interesting part. A lot of the parts for women my age, frankly, aren’t that interesting. So I really enjoyed it.

One of the things that has perhaps been a bit disappointing about The Event‘s build-up, is the constant attempt to undermine previous serialized shows such as LOST or 24. While The Event wants to give viewers reassurances, and while we would expect them to talk-up their project, we haven’t been overly impressed with some the low jabs delivered to shows that have been there, and for better or worse, bought the T-shirt. That said, Innes offers a balanced and respectful perspective:

The show is a bit of a hybrid. I mean it’s certainly got action elements to it. And it’s been compared somewhat to 24, which is accurate, but it also has this sci-fi element or mystery element or whatever you want to call it. But I do think that it’s a show that is meant to be fun. It’s also intense. And I think the cast is quite good. I do think the cast keeps it from feeling cheesy. But on the other hand, the show is completely designed to be pacey and fun and satisfying to the viewer. And I think that, to a certain degree … I wouldn’t say that we’re an improvement on shows of this genre that have come before us but we’re a little bit on the learning curve of those shows. You see that the fans get frustrated – and I know I have – if I don’t get enough juicy morsels to keep me tuned in next week. So you can go, “Oh, my God. Can you believe what happened last night on The Event?” Or onLost? Or on FlashForward? Or whatever that is. And I think we benefited from that learning curve from other shows. So far we’re up to Episode 6 we’re shooting and they have actually fulfilled their promise of giving yummy, surprising pieces every week.

Ian Anthony Dale plays Simon Lee. What were his initial impressions of the pilot script?:

When I first read the script, it was one of the quickest reads of my career, just because it was such a page-turner. It was so good. And I just wanted an opportunity to read for it and I was fortunate enough to get that and then with the role I read for, Simon Lee, it was one of those characters where I felt like I could identify with this guy. I didn’t have to over prepare. I just felt like I could go in there and make some strong instinctual choices and just let it all hang out. And that’s what I did and it felt great. I had some people on the creative end of things that I’d worked with before and they kind of lobbied for me to get the part and here I am today, preparing for Episode 6.

He also talks a bit about the challenges and rewards of serialized dramas like The Event:

Definitely with serialized dramas like this, you’re going to get new challenges every episode. There is not that procedural staccato thing that happens in many of the procedurals you get to see. You get to do new things and see new challenges and with a character like Simon Lee, you get to play a duplicitous role being a double agent working undercover. It’s such a cool opportunity to play such a cool character. We’re not privy to too much information prior to us getting the scripts, so we’re kind of on this adventure like everybody else. We’re kind of tearing into those scripts like a kid on Christmas morning every time we get one. We’re just kind of eager to see what we’re going to do in the new episode.

So, I love genre shows. And I especially like this show. This has been a blast to work on and if you enjoyed the pilot, I can tell you that our script from Episode 102 to 106 that I’ve read and what we’ve shot so far, they match, if not eclipse, the entertainment value of the pilot. The writers are doing a great job. It all starts with the writing and our writing staff is doing a great job and I’m just having a blast getting to play this character.

Scott Patterson plays Michael Buchanan. Did he think the buzz surrounding The Event would be so huge?

You know, I knew it was big. I didn’t think it was going to be this big. I did some ADR [automated dialogue replacement] last night on Episode 2, and it looks amazing. The size of this and the quality of the photography and the sound and the you-name-it is amazing. [Director/Executive Producer] Jeffrey Reiner has done a remarkable job. This is a remarkable achievement in television.

What can he tell us about his character?

There’s not much I can reveal, but I’ll say that he’s a dedicated family man. And he loves his daughters and his wife. He also an outdoorsman, so all family vacations are in national parks for hiking, rock climbing, camping, that kind of thing. And he’s an airline pilot. Otherwise, he leads a quiet, simple life. That’s all I can tell you.

You can read the entire Laura Innes, Ian Anthony Dale and Scott Patterson interviews here.

Thanks again to Spinoff Online for sharing the interviews. We’ll have some more thoughts on The Event prior to the show’s debut this coming Monday.

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