Besties Chris Perfetti and Micah Stock Are Conquering TV Together
Friendships, like most relationships and careers, tend to ebb and flow. For actors and former drama school classmates Chris Perfetti and Micah Stock, it’s been thrilling for both to witness each other’s meteoric rise in television after the best friends cut their teeth for years on humble theatrical roles side by side. The 33-year-old Perfetti continues to steal the hearts of audiences and critics with his portrayal of the lovable dork Jacob Hill in Quinta Brunson’s Emmy-winning comedy Abbott Elementary. And after supporting roles in Escape at Dannemore and Bonding, Stock is returning to TV in December for his first starring role in the upcoming Hulu series Kindred, based on the Octavia Butler novel. But despite success and steady work, neither Perfetti nor Stock have forgotten where they come from, or who their biggest cheerleaders are. As they adjust to their new normal—seeing each other’s faces on MTA buses and television screens—the longtime besties linked up via Zoom for an alternately silly and serious chat about Wordle, working with Quinta Brunson, and meeting each other years ago at SUNY Purchase, where they didn’t exactly hit it off right away.—ERNESTO MACIAS
MICAH STOCK: Did you do the Wordle today, by the way?
CHRIS PERFETTI: I did not do the Wordle. I’m on the outs with Wordle ever since my 90-something-day win streak was broken on a word that I am not convinced is actually a word.
STOCK: I mean, I don’t mean to throw shade at the New York Times but ever since they bought Wordle, the words have become—I mean, we were talking Wheel of Fortune words and then they went to Oxford English dictionary words that are so obscure.
PERFETTI: No shade New York Times, but—
STOCK: No shade NYT, but fuck you.
PERFETTI: Seriously. I was consoled when Quinta [Brunson, creator of Abbott Elementary] actually told me that the day I got it wrong, Twitter revolted and there was a really large uprising against Wordle. Because millions of people also went out that day. Ever since then, I don’t really do it. I don’t have the same zest for life.
STOCK: I’m going to tell you my Wordle word because it’s really embarrassing.
PERFETTI: Tell us.
STOCK: It’s “actor.” That’s what I always—
STOCK: Isn’t that disgusting?
PERFETTI: That is embarrassing AF.
STOCK: Isn’t it? But it’s a really effective word. Anyway, Chris. You’re on set today. How’s it going?
PERFETTI: Pretty freaking good. I’m the luckiest boy in puppet land.
STOCK: Here’s my question. I was thinking about this on the train today because I was like, “What can I talk about with Chris that we never talk about?”
STOCK: What was your first play?
PERFETTI: Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs.
STOCK: Is that right? That’s adorable. Did you play the Matthew Broderick part?
PERFETTI: I think I played the older brother, who’s not Matthew Broderick.
STOCK: Oh, okay. That apparently is one of the funniest performances that has ever been on Broadway. And he won a Tony when he was like—
PERFETTI: Well, you’re friends with Matthew Broderick, you probably talked about it.
PERFETTI: What was the first play you ever did?
STOCK: I don’t know what it was called, but it was in first grade, in elementary school, we had these things called sharing programs and I had the last line of the sharing program. Which was not really a play, it was just like a song and then kids getting up in front of the mic and saying one line and then walking down the line.
PERFETTI: That sounds absolutely obnoxious.
STOCK: Well, it’s a sharing program. You’re sharing yourself. My line was something about rainbows and wishes. In retrospect, I wish it was more prideful but it was rural Ohio in 1995, so there wasn’t really a “Pride Week,” not at our elementary school anyway. But no, it was about leprechauns and rainbows and wishes. And I had a rainbow ribbon that I would stuff into my shirt and I would pull it out and I would say, “You can never really get to the end of a rainbow. But I’m sorry to say, we have come to the end of our program.” And I did a bit where I kept pulling the rainbow ribbon out and then it didn’t go and then people laughed and that was my first—
PERFETTI: “Hold for laughter.”
STOCK: Hold, turn the head, roar again, bring them back down. Get a chuckle.
PERFETTI: So that was the birth of your penchant for—
STOCK: Mugging, did you say?
PERFETTI: Well, no.
STOCK: My memoir’s going to be called “Acting is Faces.”
PERFETTI: Love it.
STOCK: What’s yours?
PERFETTI: What’s my memoir going to be called?
STOCK: Oh, that’s a good title. I like that. So Abbott Elementary, the number one show of the last—
PERFETTI: Thank God. Let the interview begin.
STOCK: Yeah, how does it feel?
PERFETTI: It’s wild. It does really feel surreal. I never really thought that would be a part of my story. I thought I would just be taking jobs to survive. And when that weird eclipse happens where you’re so happy to be there, it’s gnarly. I was thinking the other day, and I can’t remember if it was you that said it, but we are both working on projects right now where we are the minority amongst the cast. And I feel like that’s such a rare thing to see on TV in the first place. But the fact that we are best friends and talk to each other pretty much every day, it’s so beautiful and great.
STOCK: Well it is. I mean I also think that most discerning and empathetic white people in the last couple years and the realizations that we’ve had about our world and the degree to which systemic racism exists, I think both of us have been facing that in ourselves along with the rest of the world. It’s interesting because these shows are obviously disparate in so many ways and completely different things but, at the risk of sounding in any way pandering, I do feel very grateful to be let into a black space and made to feel included and safe in the way that I would hope any person would entering into another space.
PERFETTI: Yeah, it’s very cool.
STOCK: It’s really cool. I was watching the “Story Samurai” episode—
PERFETTI: Oh, geez.
STOCK: I loved you in it so much. That scene with you and Quinta, where you’re planning on performing with the Story Samurai and she’s like, “Dude, they’re going to make fun of you. The school is going to laugh at you.” I loved the show already. It’s so charming and it’s so touching. But in that scene, you and Quinta went somewhere that I didn’t expect the sitcom to go. Was that a conversation you had, or was it just about the incredible rapport you guys have established?
PERFETTI: Oh man, just charge me whatever I owe you on Venmo for that beautiful compliment.
STOCK: It already came through.
PERFETTI: Thanks, brother. I love you. Dude, I honestly just lay that at the feet of the tremendous genius of Quinta. She has a really good connection to the tone of the show and what it can hold. She wants to make it as real as possible, but also throw that out the window and be really sappy and heightened at times. 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.
STOCK: Obviously, Quinta is incredible as a performer, writer, creator, doing all the things for your show. But I also want people to know that not only are you my best friend, but you are my favorite actor. And I felt that way since SUNY Purchase and I feel like I don’t tell you that enough.
PERFETTI: Dude, I love what this has devolved into. I literally feel that way every time I see you in a play. It’s so weird to see somebody transform in front of your eyes. It’s very destabilizing and so fun. It’s so exciting, because it’s what we’re interested in, but it’s so weird.
STOCK: And it’s also like, “What are you hiding?”
PERFETTI: Exactly. And that brings me to my next question. What are you hiding?
STOCK: Wait, why did that sound like a line reading of something.
PERFETTI: “Where are you from?”
STOCK: What is that from?
PERFETTI: I don’t know.
STOCK: For Your Consideration. When she’s doing the interview with Ricky Gervais and she’s like, “Where are you from?”
PERFETTI: Truly one of the greatest.
STOCK: Incredible. Ensemble with a French “B”.
PERFETTI: Isn’t it crazy to think about how we almost weren’t friends?
STOCK: What do you mean?
PERFETTI: I think about that all the time. For me, the experience of going to drama school was that I met the greatest people I’ve ever met in my life all at once. And I can’t imagine what my life would be like had I not gone there. But our first year in drama school, we were not that close.
PERFETTI: I think I was intimidated by you. I was like, “He’s the literal best. He’s the whole package.” To this day, you remain so down to earth and comfortable in your skin and I find that quality in people absolutely untenable, for some reason. My therapist would have a field day with that. This is why you have to give me free therapy, Micah.
STOCK: It’s so funny that you thought that about 18-year-old me because I think I was just as insecure as any other 18-year-old and didn’t really know myself. But ultimately I think we had this shared sensibility. And also, I just thought you were the funniest person on the planet and so that also helped. To be clear, we were never hateful or—
STOCK: I don’t think we didn’t like each other, but I think we were scared of being intimate.
PERFETTI: Hey, who isn’t?
STOCK: Hey, what’s going on?
PERFETTI: Hey, look at me.
STOCK: Hey, what’s happening to you?
PERFETTI: What was that right there? What just happened?
STOCK: I want to talk about theater plays and I always think it’s really funny when people in the film industry call them theater plays.
PERFETTI: Who the hell calls them theater plays?
STOCK: Well, people who don’t know theater. I’ll have people in the film industry be like, “So, I heard that you do theater plays.” And I really love that. I’m just going to call them theater plays from now on. You know, I realized I missed the Rajiv Joseph play that you just did at Steppenwolf and at Center Theater Group. And that’s the first play that you’ve been in that I have not seen you in since we were in college together.
PERFETTI: Damn dog, that is weird. We’ve seen each other do so many things.
PERFETTI: We’re going to do the play in New York [Rajiv Joseph’s King James], so you’ve got to see it then.
STOCK: I know. I wasn’t sure we were allowed to say that. I was like, “That’s something to plug.”
STOCK: I’m so excited to see that because obviously we were fans of Rajiv’s plays in college. And our pal Glenn Davis, who you do the play with, is not only the artistic director of Steppenwolf, but I did a play with him before too. What I’m saying is I feel like I’m the reason that you got that job.
PERFETTI: Okay, here we go. The truth comes out.
STOCK: No, I’m really excited. One, I love seeing everything you do, but I was talking to our friends about it and we all think you’re amazing.
PERFETTI: I’m so excited for you to see it. As you know, I don’t really watch TV, but I have never been more excited about the premiere of a new show than your show [Kindred, on Hulu]. I would say that even if I didn’t know you. I feel like it has been the longest time coming ever. It’s edging. You know what edging is? Can we say that, Interview Magazine? I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that now the people I love are the stars of fucking TV and film.
STOCK: Tell me about it. I can’t get on the B48 without seeing your face on a bus stop.
PERFETTI: Well, that’s because I’m wanted in the city of New York and there’s a warrant for my arrest.
STOCK: For serial partying.
PERFETTI: No, but it’s really tripping me out dude. Again, we’ve known each other through that time of extreme uncertainty and the rollercoaster that is the first five, 10 years after school. But I never really imagined that we would be at the party. And here, my best friend in the world is about to star in a new incredible show.
STOCK: It’s really cool to have it all align, the artistic, the social, the fiduciary, all those different things that come together, and to feel like we’re both part of shows that in very different ways have something to say.
PERFETTI: Even though I just saw you, I feel like I haven’t seen you in so long. Because when you go from hanging out every other day to spending large swaths of time away from each other, time just fucks with you. But I’m so excited for you to come out here for the premiere of your show.
STOCK: Let’s talk about your dating life.
PERFETTI: No, we’re not talking about my dating life.
STOCK: What are you dying to ask me? Would you rather—
PERFETTI: What is your favorite place?
STOCK: Under my mother’s dining room table? Sorry, that’s from another movie.
PERFETTI: That’s what I wanted to ask. I’m done here.
STOCK: Okay. Do you want me to say what my favorite place is though? Because my favorite place is right next to you. Either next to you or, if we’re just going geographically, upstate.
PERFETTI: Same, doggie dog.