Chris Perfetti Did Not Know His Character in 'Abbott Elementary' Would Be Queer
Chris Perfetti, who is now everyone's beloved well-intentioned white gay schoolteacher in ABC's sitcom "Abbott Elementary" was unaware of his queer role but happy to play it.
In just a year, the ABC mockumentary "Abbott Elementary" has racked up numerous award nominations thanks to the unique storyline and spectacular cast members, including Chris Perfetti, Tyler James Williams, and Janelle James.
This is not the first time Perfetti, who plays the exceptional character, Jacob Hill, would be starring alongside notable acts or featuring on a famous TV show. The actor has appeared in a handful of series and films, including "Blue Bloods," "The Resident," "Looking," "Gotham," and "In the Dark."
Chris Perfetti at the 74th Primetime Emmys in Los Angeles, California, on September 12, 2022. | Source: Getty Images
Chris Perfetti Plays a Queer Teacher in the Sitcom Mockumentary "Abbott Elementary"
"Abbott Elementary" was put together by actress Quinta Brunson who seemingly embarked on an impossible task—making network comedies a must-see.
Despite the surprise, the "Abbott Elementary" star enjoyed shooting the show.
The show's plot is set in a public elementary school in West Philadelphia, and it focuses on the lives of the teachers and administrators. The fiction depicts real-life events but also induces humor.
Chris Perfetti on September 10, 2022, during The Hollywood Reporter Emmy Party in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
Not only did it become a hit, but the series also gained praise from onscreen critics and set some groundbreaking records. It has become ABC's biggest hit since "Modern Family" and is "the first comedy premiere to ever quadruple in ratings," according to Esquire.
While speaking about the unique characters on the show, Brunson admitted that she needed a realistic view, so they introduced a queer character, Jacob Hill, on the show played by Perfetti, who was initially unaware. Yet, the actor played his role convincingly, earning praise from fans. According to the actress:
"I commend Chris, who came into the show not knowing that [we would write Jacob as queer]. He jumped on board immediately. It was so incredible."
Chris Perfetti at the 2nd Annual HCA TV Awards on August 13, 2022, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
"I think the real story there is that we didn't make a big story out of it."
Chris Perfetti as Jacob in ABC's "Abbott Elementary." Circa, 2022. | Source: Getty Images
Chris Perfetti's Onscreen Relationship
On the ABC sitcom, Perfetti, who plays Hill, is in an enviable relationship with his partner, Zach. Their romance was shocking to Janine, his friend, played by Brunson. She had believed she was Hill's closest pal and could have known about it before he spilled the beans.
Sadly, she was wrong. However, the queer teacher was thoughtful, so he invited Zach to the school, introducing him to Janine and other colleagues. So far, Perfetti has perfected his queer role by embodying the character onscreen and offscreen.
Actor Chris Perfetti at the "Abbott Elementary" Premiere on December 04, 2021, in Burbank, California. | Source: Getty Images
He became familiar with Hill, and at the end of the first season, he wished for a continuation. Fortunately, the show came back on September 21, 2022, and since then, the actor has been generous in sharing some tidbits concerning the renewed theme. He revealed:
"This season is an extremely specific kind of uncanny series of conundrums. We are zooming in on aspects of school life that maybe people aren't expecting. We're going to dig deeper into the lives of these characters when they're not at school."
Chris Perfetti on May 16, 2022, at The 2022 GLSEN Respect Awards in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
Perfetti talked about his relationship with other cast members offscreen in a separate interview. The actor claimed that it involves playfulness and connecting, especially with Brunson, who also stars in the show. He mentioned:
"She wants to make it as real as possible... She just understands that people want to feel good. We are joking for 75% of the episode about how difficult it is to be in that space. And I think when we're at our best, we are trying to do all of those things."
Lisa Ann Walter and Chris Perfetti on May 17, 2022, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
Chris Perfetti, as a Theater Actor
Before becoming a part of the "Abbott Elementary" show, Perfetti gained the title of a notorious theater actor, hitting New York stages through his performance in plays like "Sons of the Prophet," and "Six Degrees of Separation" which scored him prestigious awards.
One of his latest stage appearances is "King James," at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. While it may be challenging working on TV and on stage, the theater star admitted that he loves both worlds. In his words:
"I hope I can balance both worlds… doing smaller roles in TV and film has always been the way I can "fund" my theater habit. But a life where I can't do a play like the ones that I have for the past 10 years just seems so dark to me."
Chris Perfetti at the 2022 GQ Men Of The Year Party Hosted By Global Editorial Director Will Welch. | Source: Getty Images
Despite a grueling schedule, Perfetti has remained consistent, bringing out the best of his acts in stage performances and onscreen productions.