Luckily, Jason Ritter has never had to leave a wife and family to go to war. But when making “The Long Road Home,” he said he got a taste of what it’s like for a soldier to leave loved ones.
The eight-part National Geographic miniseries dramatizes the 2004 ambush of a platoon of U.S. soldiers on “Black Sunday,” the first day of the siege of Sadr City, Iraq in April 2004. It features Ritter as real-life Capt. Troy Denomy, and actress Kate Bosworth as his wife Gina.
“I really did feel like I was leaving [her],” Ritter told TheWrap of working with Bosworth. “And that sort of complicated emotion when someone is leaving to do something potentially dangerous and you hope, but don’t know for sure, they’ll come back.”
Ritter prepared for his role months ago with some immersive research — and a lot of help from Bosworth. “She was right there emotionally and everything,” said Ritter. “It was easier to do that than some of the other stuff, just because it was closest to my life experiences and she was just so fully there.”
The “Long Road Home,” based on the nonfiction book by journalist Martha Raddatz, recreates the events of “Black Sunday” from the point of view of a different character in each episode. Ritter and Bosworth’s chemistry shines through in the third episode, “Into the Unknown,” which shows Troy in the thick of the ambush in Sadr City and Gina taking care of their infant son in Fort Hood, where military families awaited the news of their loved ones.
Ritter said he and Bosworth, along with the other actors in the series, spent time living in Fort Hood and learning from their real-life counterparts.
“It was incredible,” Ritter said. “[Bosworth]’s really done a lot of her homework. She really has the full relationship with Gina and she had talked with her over and over and over again. And she had really thought a lot about it and gotten so much information. And then by the time I got there, she was almost done with all of her stuff and just by virtue of getting to sit with her an getting to know her it really, I mean it really helped to fill it all up for me.”
“The Long Road Home,” which also stars Patrick Schwarzenegger and Sarah Wayne Callies (“The Walking Dead”), premieres on National Geographic tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT.