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Chris Perfetti’s on His Character’s Arc in Abbott Elementary Season 3

Chris Perfetti’s on His Character’s Arc in Abbott Elementary Season 3

Abbott Elementary always spreads its wealth among the seven principal castmembers, but this has been a particularly robust year for Chris Perfetti, who portrays the lovably awkward, overeager history teacher Jacob Hill. In season three, Jacob broke up with his long-term boyfriend, Zach (Larry Owens), watched his best friend, Janine (Quinta Brunson), leave Abbott for a new job, became accidental roommates with his fiery co-worker Melissa (Lisa Ann Walter), hosted an Ira Glassian podcast called This Abbott Life, and got to witness an unexpected concert by Questlove (who also DJ’d the cast’s wrap party in West Hollywood) at the school’s second annual Ava Fest.

The recent Hollywood strikes lowered Abbott‘s episode count from 22 to 14, but the four-time Emmy-winning ABC mockumentary remained network TV’s sharpest comedy. Like his colleagues, Perfetti speaks with awe of the enterprise that executive producer Brunson has created. The scripts, he says, tend to contain roughly five jokes per page, and yet there’s still room for Jacob’s charming contradictions to swirl together. Case in point: Jacob’s excessively considerate disposition prompts him to manipulate Zach into breaking up with him. “I appreciated that it didn’t exactly absolve him of his bad behavior,” Perfetti says. “Larry’s character really gets to take him to task for that. I thought that was very interesting and very real.”

Since Abbott Elementary premiered to immediate success in late 2021, Perfetti has watched his life change in real time. He swears he is still “picking [his] own apples,” but he gets to take the summer off without worrying where his next paycheck will come from. (He did decide to shoot a movie in July, though he won’t disclose what it is.) Perfetti has since paid off his drama-school loans and will take his best friend on a trip to Japan before returning to work for season four.

Now that the show’s production is a well-oiled machine — he calls it an “intricate ballet” — what’s most energizing for Perfetti is getting to see Jacob land a few wins, including Janine’s return to Abbott after her stint at the school board. And a cute paramedic (Miracle Workers‘ Karan Soni) is now his budding love interest. “It’s baked into this character that he is constantly putting his foot in his mouth — and tripping over his feet — and Quinta and our writers smartly understand that if you’re going to make 60 episodes of this story, we have to subvert people’s expectations,” Perfetti says. “It’s been really nice to see Jacob get what he wants a little bit this year.”

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This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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