'Parenthood's' Jason Ritter: Friend's Attempted Suicide Influenced 'About Alex'

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Co-stars Aubrey Plaza and Max Greenfield also revealed at the film's premiere that they pulled plenty of pranks on set.

Parenthood star Jason Ritter says a painful personal experience helped him understand his role in the drama About Alex.

Ritter says one of his friends attempted suicide, and because a similar event occurs in the film, the actor was initially nervous about how that would be portrayed onscreen. In the end, he was pleased.

"To me it felt like a fair representation of what happened to my little group of friends when that happened," Ritter told The Hollywood Reporter at the film's premiere Wednesday at the ArcLight Hollywood. "We were all sort of shocked and trying to figure out is there something we could have done."

The film follows a group of college friends who reunite for a weekend after one of them attempts to commit suicide. With zero Internet connection available in their cabin in the woods, the friends are unable to hide behind social media and are forced to deal with the various issues they hoped to mask from each other.

About Alex is the first feature film from director Jesse Zwick, son of Oscar-winning filmmaker Ed Zwick. Zwick said the film can be compared to The Big Chill, a 1980s coming of age drama that follows the reunion of friends after a suicide. But he doesn't necessarily want to label About Alex as representing the "voice of millennials." Instead, he sees it as portraying a common reality that many people can take away their own lessons from.

"My hope is that it asks different questions and that it appeals to a different sensibility and that people take away something that's different," Zwick said of Alex's comparisons to The Big Chill.

Plaza said she was happy to play a character different than that of her recurring role as April on Parks and Recreation.

"I play someone that's closer to my own age, and it's nothing like April at all," Plaza told THR. "I related to a lot of the issues that she was dealing with, which is rare. I normally play characters that are younger."
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's Greenfield told THR that living in the woods with the rest of the cast during filming (not too far from Woodstock) felt like camp. He, along with Plaza and Ritter, was notorious for playing pranks to keep a laughter-filled set in between filming heavy emotional scenes.

"We would come out of scenes and start doing some pretty solid bits that probably were inappropriate for the moment, but I think it kept us all loose, said Greenfield."

Actor Nate Parker said it's important that the film touches on society's dependence on social media.

"I don't know if you took seven 18-year-olds and put them in the same situation if they would survive, said Parker. I don't know if they would have any context as to how people did it before."

The afterparty followed the screening at Wood & Vine, where guests mingled over canapes, cocktails and a Ploom sampling bar.