We’re not gonna lie: Free Samples is our (OK, my) favorite film so far at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. Its snappy, sparkling, laugh-out-loud dialogue paired with a breakout performance by the insanely talented Jess Weixler as Jillian, a cranky-hungover law school dropout, is cool yet blessedly free of hipster affectations. Complicating Jillian’s raging quarter-life crisis is her love (read: hookup) triangle (quadrangle, actually), including Jesse Eisenberg as Tex and Jason Ritter as Wally. Wally, who lives out his fantasy of serving ice cream sans pants (don’t ask), is every girl’s worst nightmare: an irresistibly adorable musician/slacker who ruins furniture and bums juke box money.
Ritter first caught our attention in his complex portrayal of an athlete/ladies man confined to a wheelchair in Joan of Arcadia. But the son of Three’s Company icon John Ritter actually made his acting debut on his dad’s show at age two. An NYU/Tisch grad and Tribeca fave (Perfect Family in 2011, Peter and Vandy in 2009, The Education of Charlie Banks in 2007), Ritter also portrayed Jeb Bush in Oliver Stone’s W and regularly pops up on two NBC series: The Event and Parenthood.
Provenance: Sherman Oaks, California
Relationship Status: In a relationship
If Wally is the love interest from hell, being in a relationship with Jason Ritter is: “I’d imagine it’s slightly more enjoyable than being in a relationship with Wally, although Wally sets the bar pretty low! I’d imagine it’s a somewhat frustrating experience because I feel like sometimes I’m not good with boundaries. I’ve heard the same complaint from friends, that if I’m at a bar or restaurant, if someone comes up and starts talking to me, it doesn’t matter if I don’t really want to talk to them, I do it anyway. I’m a bit too much of a people pleaser and that can be frustrating for people in your life.”
How Jason differs from Wally: “I’m a little better house trained! I have some of the slacker elements but I’d never get a tattoo that I don’t know how to translate. And we have different ideas of fantasies we want fulfilled…”
And that fantasy is: “The idea of being naked in a way that no one can see and only I know, I do enjoy that. There are times if I’m doing a phone interview where I won’t be wearing everything I should.”
Tribeca times two: “Jess and I did another movie together at Tribeca, Peter and Vandy, and she blew me away on a regular basis. It’s rare that you have the combination in one actor of being so dramatically and comedically talented. The more grounded she is, the funnier she is. She’s the real deal.”
Like father, like son: “His whole thing was, as long as it’s grounded in some kind of reality, that’ll make it funnier. If you’re just trying to be funny, that’s usually not funny. It has to be that you’re trying to do something seriously and you let the humor come from the situation.”
Stay tuned: “I’d be very surprised if Parenthood wasn’t picked up but it hasn’t been officially announced yet. Jason Katims did another pilot called County with Jess Weixler and I in it, so if that gets picked up, I’d be able to jump back and forth, because Parenthood is also Jason Katims’ show.”
Up next: “The Perfect Family opens May 5 and A Bag of Hammers opens May 11.”
Free Samples screens April 26 and 29 at the Tribeca Film Festival.