Kat may toss the tart zingers, and Richie and Lina may have won our hearts already, but Ethan is the glue that brought, and now holds, The Class together. This week on the CBS sitcom, a sexy surprise awaits our hero. Jason Ritter, who plays Ethan, gave us a sneak peek. Plus, he reflects on Joan of Arcadia's ungodly axing.
TVGuide.com: First off, I was reading on one of the "movie database" sites that you died yesterday. My condolences.
Jason Ritter: Yeah, I read that, too.... That was a lot of fun. Made me feel good.
TVGuide.com: But dude, you've got Jaime King as a new love interest on The Class. Well played!
Ritter: Thank you! [Sarcastically] I was very disappointed, as you could imagine.
TVGuide.com: In this week's episode, we see her character, Palmer, in a new and different light....
Ritter: Yes, we certainly do. You realize that there is more to her than initially meets the eye, which is saying a lot.
TVGuide.com: Said simply, she makes a pass at Kat — and I appreciated Ethan's unbridled reaction when Kat tells him. No shame there.
Ritter: [Laughs] Exactly. Exactly. I think he feels close enough to Kat to let his true feelings show.
TVGuide.com: It's cool that they let you play that. Sometimes, a show's male lead can be too goody-goody.
Ritter: Yeah, it's definitely fun to have him put in these situations where he would not be able to continue to be a goody-goody. He's still kind of a goody-goody at heart, though. I think he would freak out if [a threesome] actually happened.
TVGuide.com: But he had to go on record as having expressed an interest.
Ritter: Yeah, exactly.
TVGuide.com: You have great chemistry with Lizzy Caplan (Kat). Did you sense that at the pilot stage?
Ritter: No, I didn't, actually. I don't think either of us did. At that stage, all eight of us were just so nervous about the show.... Each of us felt like we were the weak link, and that everyone was so great, and we were going to ruin it single-handedly. But I would say that by Episode 2, Lizzy and I were starting to become better friends, and now we have a great time together.
TVGuide.com: Her character is so abrasive and strong that to be an effective foil certainly speaks to your talent.
Ritter: Oh, thank you. I always seem to attract, in my life, acerbic, abrasive people. [Chuckles] I guess I make a good punching bag, and people see that. There's something about me that people like to torture.
TVGuide.com: Is Ethan the Class character who is closest to yourself?
Ritter: Yeah, I would say that — if I had sort of stunted my emotional growth at age 12. He's sort of optimistic and believes good things about the world. I do, too, for the most part — but he has a much lighter worldview than I do.
TVGuide.com: Are you liking how the show's splintered stories and their respective characters are now coming together?
Ritter: It's fun. Initially, we each sort of had our own story lines and would try to compete. Lizzy and I would be like, "Our story line isn't the funniest! We have to.... " But at the same time, there were eight amazing people here, and we were only getting to work with, like, one other one. So it's nice to mix it up. I finally had my first scene since the pilot with Jon Bernthal (Duncan) and Andrea Anders (Nicole), and that was cool. I see them every week, but then I never actually have any scenes with them!
TVGuide.com: Holly (Lucy Punch), though, still seems detached. Is she getting worked into the fold some more?
Ritter: She is. They're reworking some things with her character. Sam Harris, who plays her husband, is going to start becoming more involved with our group of friends.
TVGuide.com: Who are your comedy inspirations?
Ritter: Oh, man... I would say all of the guys from The State; Chris Elliott in Get a Life; David Cross and Bob Odenkirk on Mr. Show; and I was also greatly influenced by The Simpsons and Wayne's World and Beavis and Butt-head. South Park I also really like.
TVGuide.com: Is it just me, or did Joan of Arcadia expire sooner than it should have?
Ritter: That's how I feel. We all were really saddened by that. I'm still in touch with all of the regulars. It's been a couple of years, and we'll call each other and be like, "Why?!"
TVGuide.com: I mean, the first season was so strong. Was it a case of decision-makers "fixing" things too much?
Ritter: When numbers start going down, they try to fix things. One Tree Hill and The O.C. were starting to hit big at that time, so I feel some decisions were made to focus our show more on the teenage drama, so the initial idea of the show was somewhat compromised. It was unfortunate because I felt like at the end of the second season, it was getting back to what it was about.
TVGuide.com: The family scenes, especially, were great to watch.
Ritter: We became a family. The five of us loved each other so much, and we would have so much fun, we were probably a bit of a pain in the ass to the crew! [Laughs] All that love you saw on screen was 100 percent true.
TVGuide.com: I have to ask, do people come up to you now and say, "Oh my god, you can walk!"
Ritter: Not as much anymore, but initially, yeah, a lot of people would say, "Hey, it's a miracle!" and make a little [wheelchair] gesture.
TVGuide.com: Did the show take any flak from organizations for the handicapped, for casting you in the role?
Ritter: There was initially a lot of that, because it's really the one minority that's not represented much in television and movies. The Farrelly Brothers use disabled actors a lot, but.... So they were upset, but once they realized that not only were they going to be doing flashbacks and dream sequences where the actor would need to be able to walk, they also saw that there would be other opportunities to hire disabled actors.
TVGuide.com: Why don't you leave us with a tease about what's ahead for The Class' Ethan.
Ritter: Let's see.... Well, there's a Valentine's Day episode coming up where basically Ethan is always trying to please everyone, because that's his whole thing. Kat and Kyle are stranded at his place by a snowstorm, and then Palmer comes over. So the whole day is about me trying to please her and give her this wild, romantic Valentine's Day, but my two friends are there. I'm constantly trying to do both, and you just can't do that. You can't have your two best buddies around on Valentine's Day when your girlfriend is there, ready and willing.
TVGuide.com: Especially when the girlfriend is Jaime King.
For the scoop on many more of your favorite shows, pick up the "2007 Preview" issue of TV Guide, now on newsstands.
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.