The origins of Perd Hapley and Jay Jackson, the actor who plays him, are fairly well-covered at this point. In a comprehensive 2015 interview with NPR‘s “All Things Considered,” Jackson describes how he broke into acting. After getting his start as an actual news reporter for KCAL9 News in Los Angeles, Jackson started a reporters school to help local broadcast journalists put together demo reels. When one of his students booked an acting job based on a reel, their manager was impressed enough to reach out to Jackson as well.
“The manager who saw the tape thought I was great,” Jackson told NPR. “She was getting a lot of casting calls for reporters and anchors … My big break came when I made that demo reel for the student. That’s the only way it would’ve happened.”
That first acting job was as an unnamed newscaster in a 2007 episode of Dexter. It wasn’t until two years and 10 similar acting jobs later that Jackson booked his most iconic performance on Parks and Rec.
And that brings us to the subject at hand. While Jackson started out playing a newscaster in Dexter and then as Perd Hapley, he didn’t just stop after Parks and Recreation signed off in 2015. All in all, Jackson boasts 50 credits on his IMDb page – the vast majority of which are for playing Hapley-esque newscasters. Indeed you may recall seeing him pop up in something and excitedly texting your friends “I just saw Perd Hapley in Battleship/Scandal/Revenge. In fact, you can find some nice screenshots of many of his eerily similar appearances in this 2017 Daily Mail article.
All of this has us wondering … what if every time Jay Jackson plays a newscaster he’s actually playing Perd Hapley? What if Pawnee’s own Perd Hapley (or “Turd Crapley” as Ben Wyatt calls him) is secretly a Loki-esque cornerstone to a vast multiverse of TV realities?
Unfortunately for the purposes of this theory, Jackson is definitely not playing Perd Hapley every single time. Not (only) because our theory is profoundly stupid but because many of his characters actually have credited names. In projects like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Rick Schneil), Criminal Minds (Cybercrimes Unit Chief Gary Omri), The Morning Show (Vernon Worrell), and 15 others, Jackson’s characters have a name other than “Perd Hapley” on their birth certificate.