Jason Ritter

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Jason Ritter
Ritter in 2015
Jason Morgan Ritter

(1980-02-17) February 17, 1980 (age 44)
Alma materNew York University
  • Actor
  • producer
Years active1990–present
(m. 2020)
PartnerMarianna Palka (1999–2013)

Jason Morgan Ritter (born February 17, 1980) is an American actor. The son of John Ritter and Nancy Morgan, he is known for his work in television series such as Joan of Arcadia (2003–2005), Gravity Falls (2012–2016), Another Period (2015–2018), Kevin (Probably) Saves the World (2017–2018), and Raising Dion (2019–2022). For his portrayal of Mark Cyr on NBC's Parenthood (2010–2014), Ritter was nominated for the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor. His film credits include Swimfan (2002), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), Happy Endings (2005), The Education of Charlie Banks (2007), W. (2008), The Meddler (2015), The Tale (2018), and Frozen II (2019). Ritter is married to actress Melanie Lynskey, with whom he has a daughter.

Early life[edit]

Ritter was born on February 17, 1980, in Los Angeles, California, to actors Nancy Morgan and John Ritter.[1] He is a grandson of actors Tex Ritter, who died six years before Ritter was born, and Dorothy Fay. His stepmother is actress Amy Yasbeck. Ritter has three siblings, including actor Tyler Ritter.[2]

Ritter appeared as a toddler in the opening credits of his father's show, Three's Company.[3]

He attended middle and high school at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California, with Simon Helberg, who became his roommate at NYU.[4] Ritter attended and graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied at the Atlantic Theater Company. He later studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.[5]


1990–2007: Teen films and early career[edit]

Ritter made his professional acting debut at age 10, playing Harry Neal Baum in the 1990 television movie The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story. Several years later, he had a supporting role as Martin Brockett in the 1999 film Mumford, a dramedy directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

Ritter's film work throughout the early 2000s included prominent parts in teen-oriented projects such as Swimfan (2002), Freddy vs. Jason (2003), and Raise Your Voice (2004). Between 2003 and 2005, he appeared as Kevin Girardi, the disabled brother of the titular main character, on the CBS family drama series Joan of Arcadia. Next, he played a young man struggling to come terms with his sexuality in the dark comedy Happy Endings (2005), with Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post commenting, "The acting in this ensemble is of such a high order that the movie simply takes you in and makes you feel these lives as real".[6]

Ritter in 2007

Ritter's portrayal of an Ivy League college student in The Education of Charlie Banks (2007) was met with critical acclaim: The Hollywood Reporter referred to it as a "head-turner" performance that combined "a believably brooding intensity with a bad boy swagger that brings to mind [a] young Matt Dillon".[7]

2008–2016: Independent film roles[edit]

Following a supporting role in the satirical 2008 comedy The Deal, Ritter appeared briefly as Jeb Bush in the biographical drama W, directed by Oliver Stone. On preparing for the role, he said, "I watched everything that I possibly could and read some books about [the] Bush family [and] Jeb".[8] That same year, he produced and starred in the independent dramedy Good Dick with his girlfriend at the time, Marianna Palka, making her directorial debut.[9] A look at the relationship between an introverted girl (Palka) and the video store assistant (Ritter) vying for her attention, the film drew a mixed reception,[10] but Empire's Anna Smith was enthusiastic in her appraisal: "Ritter's character — a romantic reformed druggie — is one to root for, and [the film] entertains enough to get by, marking Palka and Ritter as talents to watch".[11]

In 2010, Ritter began playing the recurring role of Mark Cyr on NBC's Parenthood. The performance earned him a nomination for the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.[12] His next project was the 2011 independent comedy A Bag of Hammers, where he starred as a felon who winds up taking care of a neglected child; in a mixed review, The Hollywood Reporter felt that its tone was "muddled", but believed it "starts off strong, offering funny, well timed dialogue between Sandvig [and] Ritter".[13] Also that year, he co-starred in The Perfect Family, which critic Frank Scheck felt worked solely on the strength of its performances: "Turner is deeply sympathetic as the religious matriarch ... while Ritter and Deschanel are thoroughly believable as the grown children who love their mother despite her oft-expressed disapproval of their actions".[14]

Between 2012 and 2016, Ritter starred in the voice role of Dipper Pines on the Disney Channel animated series Gravity Falls, a show about a pair of twins deciphering the weird goings-on in the mysterious titular town. The series was universally praised,[15] with Alasdair Wilkins of The A.V. Club calling it "funny, emotional, beautiful, and terrifying in equal measure".[16] Ritter had prominent parts in five independent features between 2012 and 2013: The End of Love, Free Samples, I Am I,[17] The Big Ask, and The East. It was announced in February 2013 that he would star as Gavin in Us & Them, a sitcom pilot based on the British television comedy Gavin & Stacey.[18] While subsequently picked up as a series by Fox, Us & Them was cancelled before it could premiere,[19] with the show's seven episodes eventually being released by Crackle.[20]

Ritter at the 2013 Paleyfest

Ritter's appearance in Wild Canaries (2014), a throwback to classic whodunits, was met with praise: Justin Chang of Variety called the film "eventful, plot-driven [and] fun", adding that "Corrigan and especially Ritter are solid in their hefty supporting roles".[21] He headlined the independent drama About Alex that same year, playing a young man who finds solace in a group of old friends after attempting to take his own life. In his review for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico said, "What's kind of refreshing about About Alex is that the predictable map through the clichés of this subgenre that seems to be charted in the opening scenes isn't quite followed", adding, "Ritter finds [the] emotional undercurrent that's often missing from these troubled characters. There's something honest in the way his voice quivers that makes his depression seem more genuine".[22]

Ritter had a supporting role as the ex-boyfriend of main character Lori in the 2015 comedy-drama The Meddler, and began playing Lord Frederick Bellacourt—an illiterate twin—that same year on the acclaimed historical sitcom Another Period,[23] a parody of Downton Abbey.[24] In their review of the latter, which ran for three seasons on Comedy Central,[25] The A.V. Club felt that Ritter brought "an earnestness" to the wacky material.[26] Next, he starred as a man suffering from retrograde amnesia in the post-apocalyptic drama Embers (2015); Sight and Sound critic Anton Bitel called it "a reflection of the human condition as philosophically compelling as it is emotionally intelligent", adding, "No film has either moved or provoked me as much this year".[27] In 2016, Ritter co-starred in the well-reviewed ensemble comedy The Intervention and received positive notices for his role in Carrie Pilby, an adaptation of the novel of the same name.[28][29][30]

2017–present: Television and film work[edit]

In the satirical dark comedy Bitch (2017), Ritter re-teamed with director Marianna Palka to play Bill, a promiscuous husband whose wife suddenly takes on the mannerisms of a wild dog. Writing for IndieWire, Erick Kohn said, "The usually sweet-natured Ritter boldly plays against type ... an American Psycho-like creep ... leaving the care of his three young children to his clearly unstable wife", adding that "[the film] works best when it focuses on Bill's ongoing shock at the sudden demand for his responsibility, as he fights through the task of delivering his kids to school and suddenly loses traction in the workplace. A fierce portrait of unwieldy comeuppance, it's both hilarious and terrifying to watch Bill take in the strange events around him".[31]

Ritter's portrayal of Kevin Finn—a depressed financial worker tasked with preventing humanity from self-destruction—in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World was warmly received by critics.[32][33] The show ran for a single season on ABC between October 2017 and March 2018.[34] Next, he appeared in The Tale (2018), a drama based on the childhood sexual abuse suffered by Jennifer Fox—the film's writer and director—at the hands of her running coach. Ritter played perpetrator William "Bill" Allens, earning strong reviews for his performance: "Ritter has never been better" said Matt Goldberg of Collider,[35] while The Atlantic's David Sims commented, "Handed the tough roles of mentors who shift into monsters, Ritter and Debicki subtly calibrate their performances as necessary, projecting a protective edge in one moment and a predatory one in the next. Their transformations are extraordinary to watch, and necessary to reckon with".[36] Ritter said the experience of making the film had been a challenging one, and that there were times after a day's shooting when he "had to go home and let it all out".[37]

In 2019, Ritter played the voice role of Ryder—a member of the Northuldra tribe—in Walt Disney's Frozen II, which broke box office records upon its release.[38] He began starring as biotech engineer Pat Rollins on the critically acclaimed superhero series Raising Dion the same year,[39] with Aaron Pruner of Thrillist commenting that Ritter's involvement "adds the nuanced character work he's known for".[40] The show ran for two seasons on Netflix before being cancelled in April 2022.[41]

In a casting choice that drew attention for being "meta",[42] Ritter appeared as Deputy Denny Reese in two episodes of the true crime Hulu miniseries Candy (2022), where the character—along with his colleague, played by Justin Timberlake—investigates the 1980 murder of Texan housewife Betty Gore. Gore was portrayed by Ritter's wife, Melanie Lynskey, while the perpetrator—Candy Montgomery—was played by Timberlake's wife, Jessica Biel. The following year, Ritter voiced principal character Jonathan Fall in the animated series Captain Fall, a dark comedy that ran for one season on Netflix.[43]

It was announced in March 2023 that Ritter had been cast in the upcoming CBS reboot of Matlock,[44] which is due to air in 2024.[45]

Personal life[edit]

From October 1999 to 2013, Ritter was in a relationship with Marianna Palka. They met while they were both studying at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York City.[46] In 2017, Ritter became engaged to New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey after four years of dating.[47] The couple had their first child, a daughter, in December 2018.[48] They wed in 2020.[49]

Speaking in 2010 about the death of his father, Ritter said, "I think it helped me realize how fragile we all are. At the end of the day, you can be a health freak or a body builder, but a truck might hit you. Or you might be a huge, larger than life personality and it could all be taken away in the next second. I learned to tell people in my life how I feel about them a little bit more".[50]

Ritter has been open about his struggle with alcoholism, and how his relationship with Lynskey gave him the strength to get sober: "I thought she would be incredible for someone who deserved her, basically", he said in 2023. "And I didn't feel like I was that person ... It was only after [a] year into not drinking where I started to go, 'Oh, maybe I can promise some things to someone else. Maybe I can be this person'".[51]



Year Title Role Notes
1991 The Real Story Of Christmas Tree Little Acorn Voice, short film
1999 Mumford Martin Brockett
2001 Earth Day Jack Voice, short film
2002 PG Paul Short film
Swimfan Randy
2003 Smash the Kitty Josh Short film
Freddy vs. Jason Will Rollins
2004 Raise Your Voice Paul Fletcher
2005 Perceptions Michael
Happy Endings Otis McKeen
Our Very Own Clancy Whitfield
Placebo Daniel Short film
2006 Lenexa, 1 Mile Sean Hickey
The Wicker Man Bar Guy #2
2007 The Education of Charlie Banks Mick Leary
2008 The Deal Lionel Travitz
Good Dick The Man Also producer
W. Jeb Bush
2009 The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll Eric Genson
Oh My Soul Executive producer
Peter and Vandy Peter
2010 The Dry Land Michael
Morning Hotel Receptionist
2011 A Bag of Hammers Benjamin Platt
The Perfect Family Frank Cleary Jr.
The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best Kyle
They're with Me Isaac Solomon Short film
Atlantis Ben Short film
The Five Stages of Grief Orion Short film
2012 The Break In Larry Short film
Angel of Death Victim 1 Short film
Trying Mark Short film
The Golden Age Mitch Short film
Manhattan Mixup Fritz Short film
The End of Love Jason
Free Samples Wally
2013 I Am I Jonathan
The Big Ask Owen
The Sidekick Kid Loco Short film
The Goldfish Yoni Short film
The East Tim
2014 Hits Julian
Wild Canaries Damien Anders
There's Always Woodstock Garret
About Alex Alex
7 Minutes Mike
You're Not You Will
We'll Never Have Paris Kurt
2015 The Steps Jeff
Embers Guy
The Meddler Jacob
Always Worthy Jeff Fredrick
2016 The Intervention Matt
Carrie Pilby Matt
2017 The Labyrinth Usher
Bitch Bill
2018 The Tale Bill
2019 Frozen II Ryder Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1990 The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story Harry Neal Baum Television film
1999 Days of Our Lives Todd Supporting role (Season 34)
Undressed Allan Main role (Season 3)
2001 Law & Order Nick Simms Episode: "Teenage Wasteland"
2002 Hack Teddy Griffin Episode: "My Brother's Keeper"
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Billy Baker Episode: "Dominance"
2003–2005 Joan of Arcadia Kevin Girardi Main role; 45 episodes
2006–2007 The Class Ethan Haas Lead role; 19 episodes
2007 All Grown Up! Mr. Fisk Voice, episode: "What's Love Got to do With That?"
This Is My Friend Executive producer
2009 WWII in HD Jack Yusen Voice, 2 episodes
Mercy Gabe Tyler Episode: "Some of Us Have Been to the Desert"
2010–2011 The Event Sean Walker Main role; 22 episodes
2010–2014 Parenthood Mark Cyr Recurring role; 32 episodes
2012 County Jack Malloy Pilot[52][53]
2012–2016 Gravity Falls Dipper Pines Voice, main role (40 episodes)
2013 Robot Chicken Reindeer / Sergeant Voice, episode: "Born Again Virgin Christmas Special"
Call Me Crazy: A Five Film Bruce Television film, segment: "Lucy"
2013–2018 Drunk History Various characters 8 episodes
2014 Us & Them Gavin Shipman Lead role; unaired
Person of Interest Simon Lee Episode: "Prophets"
Key & Peele Male Customer Episode: "Concussion Quarterback"
Garfunkel and Oates Jason Episode: "Maturity"
2015–2016 Girls Scott Recurring role; 5 episodes
2015–2018 Another Period Frederick Bellacourt Main role; 26 episodes
2016 Wander Over Yonder Skipper (parody of Dipper Pines) Voice, episode: "The Cartoon"
Goliath FBI Agent Farley 3 episodes
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Ranger Bill Episode: "Fall"
2017 The Long Road Home Troy Denomy 3 episodes
Tales of Titans Greg Main role; 8 episodes
2017–2018 Kevin (Probably) Saves the World Kevin Finn Main role; 16 episodes
Skylanders Academy Dark Spyro Voice, 12 episodes
2019 Quest Michael 8 episodes
2019–2020 A Million Little Things Eric 9 episodes
2019–2022 Raising Dion Pat Main role
2020 Superstore Josh Simms Episode: "Customer Safari"
2022 Candy Deputy Denny Reese 2 episodes
Amphibia Barrel Voice, episode: "The Core & the King"
Slumberkins Fox Dad Voice, episode: "When Things Change/Bigfoot's First Sleepover"
2023 Accused Jack Fletcher Episode: "Jack's Story"
The Last of Us Clicker Episode: "Endure and Survive" (uncredited cameo)
Captain Fall Captain Jonathan Fall Voice, lead role
Gen V Himself Episode "The Whole Truth"


Year Title Role Notes
2008 T Takes The Guest in Room 23 Episode: "Lobby"
2012 Weasel Town Haunches Voice, main role
Sketchy Tom Episode: "You Got Retweeted"
2013 Ghost Ghirls William / Brad Wojciehowicz 2 episodes


Year Title Role(s) Notes
2013–2020 The Thrilling Adventure Hour Various 4 episodes
2016 The Worst Idea of All Time Various 1 episode

Music videos[edit]

Year Song Artist Notes
2015 "Waiting on Love" Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers Directed by Todd Hurvitz
2016 "Way We Won't" Grandaddy Directed by Chris Grieder

Theatre credits[edit]

Year Title Role Venue Notes
2000 The Beginning of August Off-Broadway [54]
2002 The Distance From Here Tim Almeida Theatre [54]
2005 Third Woodson Bull III Lincoln Center [54]


Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2003 Saturn Awards Cinescape Genre Face of the Future Award Freddy vs. Jason Nominated [55]
2004 Teen Choice Awards Breakout TV Star – Male Joan of Arcadia Nominated [55]
2006 Clarence Derwent Awards Most Promising Male Third Won [56]
Martin E. Segal Award Outstanding Achievement Third Won [57]
2012 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Parenthood Nominated [58]
2015 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series (shared with the cast) Gravity Falls Nominated [55]
2016 Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series (shared with the cast) Gravity Falls Nominated [55]
2017 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Tales of Titans Nominated [55]
2018 International Online Cinema Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie The Tale Nominated [55]
Online Film & Television Association Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Limited Series The Tale Nominated [55]


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External links[edit]