Jason Ritter Remembers His Late Father on His Birthday: 'He's Even More on My Mind'

by Susan Hornik 7:40 AM PDT, September 18, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

One look at the still boyish-looking Jason Ritter and you can see how much he resembles his charismatic dad, John Ritter. Given the younger Ritter’s near constant presence on TV over the past decade, it’s almost hard to believe that it’s been 12 years since his father -- the iconic star of the much loved television series, Three’s Company -- passed away.

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Ritter has since carved out his own place on TV with memorable performances in NBC’s Parenthood, Comedy Central’s Drunk History, and as Shoshanna’s love interest on HBO’s Girls. The 35-year-old actor most recently starred in Comedy Central’s other historical parody, Another Period, which debuted this summer.

While at Doris Bergman’s sixth annual Emmy Style Lounge & Party, ETonline caught up with the actor to discuss his range of on-screen projects, life after Parenthood, and his beloved father.

ETonline: Your father was like the gold standard in comedy. Ever watch re-runs of Three’s Company?

Jason Ritter: If I am flipping through television channels and it’s on, I definitely stop and watch it. I have not seen every single episode of the show. It’s a nice feeling, especially when I find one I have never seen before. Actually, today (Sept. 17) would have been his birthday. He’s even more on my mind. 

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Is there a memory of your dad that you think about?

Wow, boy, I have so many memories. Sometimes, it’s just going to the Dodgers game or something like that and hanging out, watching the game together. Not even much being said -- laughing and having fun, and eating horrible food! 

What do you like to watch on TV?

Trying to think what is on my DVR -- I like American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead. I love The Strain, though I am really behind in my watching! I really love Drunk History too. I love scary stuff and horror. And I am still a huge South Park fan. 

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How is life after Parenthood? Do you see the cast still?

Life is great! I keep in touch, yes! Mainly with Mae (Whitman), Miles (Heizer) Lauren (Graham) and Peter (Krause).

Are you happy with how the show ended?

Yes, I am happy for the show. I was glad that my character was happy -- though I wish that he was happy with Sarah (Graham’s character)! 

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What are you working on now?

I am going to do an independent movie in October called Carrie Pilby, which is based on a young adult novel. This fall, I will be starting back up on the second season of Another Period. The show is like a mix between Downton Abbey and the Kardashians -- something like that! I play one of the dumbest people of all time! He thinks rocks are alive which is not smart! It’s really funny and fun. We’ve had hilarious people like Ben Stiller and Jack Black come in and have done guest spots.

And I have one of my favorite things I have ever been involved in: a cartoon for Disney Channel, called Gravity Falls. Alex Hirsch, who created the show, is a mad genius. It’s pretty incredible; I play a 12-year-old boy named Dipper Pines who along with his twin sister, Mabel (The Last Man on Earth’s Kristen Schaal), are trying to solve the mysteries of this small town. It is amazing, the creators have come up with this whole world with clues and there are things in the background. You can enjoy the show by watching it, but this whole backstory is really exciting.

Watch Jason's brother Tyler reflect on his late father and the best advice he ever received: