L.A. Is for Lovers: Jason Ritter & Marianna Palka

By Whitney Spaner

"We would give each other electric shocks all the time," says actress and filmmaker Marianna Palka, of meeting her boyfriend, actor Jason Ritter. "I remember writing to my mom about it because it was happening all the time, like every time we touched each other we would get a shock, and my mom was like, 'Maybe it's the shoes you are wearing. Are you wearing rubber shoes?'" The 27-year-old Scot met Ritter, son of the late John Ritter, while in school at the Atlantic Theater Company in New York. "I was really into Jason before I knew his name or before I knew where he was from," Palka continues.

Ritter, 28, was a little tuned out at first. "I just thought she wanted to be my friend, so I was trying my best to just be her friend," he explains. "But then she sort of kissed me on the cheek, half on the lips at one point and that really threw me for a loop." Palka recalls the night they started dating: "It was just before Halloween in 1999. He had a leather jacket on and we were on the roof by ourselves at one point. It was in Queens and we could see all the lights in Manhattan. We were just sitting on this box and he said, 'Do you want to be boyfriend-girlfriend?' and I was like, 'Yes!' I thought that was so polite and respectful." Ritter laughs thinking about it. "There was a really long period of stuttering, way beyond the charming threshold." Nine years later, the two are still going strong. They've recently bought their own LivingHome in L.A. -- a house built in a factory with all sustainable products to downsize their carbon footprint -- and last year they co-starred in the Sundance film Good Dick which Palka also wrote, directed and produced with the couple's production company, Morning Knight. Ritter can also be seen in The Deal alongside William H. Macy and Meg Ryan released this month on DVD.

Where's your favorite spot to get it on in L.A.?
Marianna:Well, I can't be honest about it, because I feel really dirty -- so I'm just going to say the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
Jason: I like pulling over -- just, like, finding a little residential area and pulling over. I'm always sort of fascinated by suburban areas, because I like the idea of people just in their houses and [that other] people driving by just assume [ours] is another parked car.

Where's your favorite place to go when you just want to really feel each other -- be romantic, private, alone?
Marianna:I would say bed.
Jason: There's a place called Hamasaku that we'll go to for a special occasion. We have our regular places that we go to a lot. Marianna really likes Real Food Daily, but if there's some kind of Valentine's Day or anniversary or something like that, we'll try to expand our horizons and find a new place.

What do you like the most about your mate?
Marianna: His humanity and the way that he regards people are so impressive to me. I come from this place where people are who they are without other things. In L.A., people are like, "What do you do?" instead of, "How are you?' I feel like character can be decided by what you give and he's so giving
Jason: I've always been in awe of her courage. I'm always like, "Well, now, hold on. How thick is the fire and how injured will I be on the other end?" She always runs headlong into any problem. I think you find people that you have similarities with, but even stronger than that, as we've all been taught by Paula Abdul, opposites attract. [Marianna] stands up straight and doesn't apologize for herself, and I've always tried to accommodate other people and apologize for myself -- but there is a part of me that sees Marianna being strong, and that gives me strength in my own self.

What annoys you more than anything else?
Marianna: Jason never annoys me.
Jason: I have to tread carefully here, but if I were to look at the moments that I get annoyed, it would probably have more to do with me. When I see her, I want to be the best of myself and all of these things, and then sometimes a smaller part of me just wants to play video games all day. [I feel] like, "Why do you have to hold up the mirror to my potential?" So most of the times that I get all whiney are because she’s doing something that's moving us forward, and I'm feeling lazy.

What model car do you drive? And if you're going to an event, who drives -- you or him/her?
Marianna: We both have a Prius. He steals my car because I have Sirius radio and GPS, and I'm like, "Dude, don't steal my car." He drives usually, but sometimes I drive. It depends who's on the phone.
Jason: We both have Priuses -- or Prii? I got one first and then right after Good Dick, she traded her car in for a Prius. I like to drive her car more.

What's the most L.A. thing you've ever done as a couple? 
Marianna: We have seen like four movies in a day. That's kind of L.A. to me.
Jason: We've eaten at a studio commissary together. When I was working on a show or something, she'd come and visit and we'd eat on the lot.

If L.A. slid into the ocean, where would you move?
Marianna: Scotland!
Jason: In that situation, the world would probably be in pretty bad shape, but if the world wasn't falling apart and it was just an isolated incident, then I would say New York for sure.

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