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Is Jim O'Heir Really Like Jerry From Parks And Rec In Real Life?

Perfectly blending wacky characters and deadpan irony with genuine heart, NBC's Parks and Recreation has retained its cult following since it took its last bow in 2015. Prominent characters like Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari), and even L'il Sebastian (played by Gideon the miniature horse) have gone down in the sitcom Hall of Fame, complete with their own Etsy merch. But the show wouldn't have experienced such long-lived success if not for its brilliant ensemble cast.

In particular, it's high time we applauded the ever-cheerful and eternally hapless Jerry Gergich, played by Jim O'Heir, who makes an art out of being the butt of every joke (sometimes literally). If there's a drink that can be spilled, Jerry will spill it. If there are pants that can be split with a poorly timed bend, Jerry will split them. If there's a job no one else wants to do, Jerry will be the one doing it.

It's Jerry's sweet nature combined with his clumsiness and bad luck that make us love him even as we're laughing at him. And O'Heir's performance is so convincing, it's made some Parks and Recreation fans wonder whether he's really like his best-known character. Helpfully, O'Heir took to Reddit in November 2019 for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session, during which he dispelled some of the misconceptions about himself and Jerry. So, is Jim O'Heir really like Jerry from Parks and Rec in real life? Find out for yourself.

Jim O'Heir says he shares some similarities with Jerry Gergich

Where Jerry has a tendency to trip up on his words and generally get befuddled, O'Heir is a lot more eloquent than his onscreen alter ego. Think of Jerry at home with his family, deftly catching a falling coffee mug, rather than the Jerry who accidentally sets himself on fire. However, O'Heir confessed that he does share some similarities with Jerry. 

The actor said that while he's not as likely to spill food down himself as Jerry is, he does sometimes fumble his words. O'Heir also noted that, like Jerry, he has a tendency to be a people-pleaser. As fans will remember, Jerry's real name is Garry, but he's been going by Jerry at work since his very first day at the Pawnee, Indiana Parks Department decades ago, when his first boss accidentally called him the wrong name. O'Heir admitted that he could see himself doing that, although maybe not for quite as long.

That said, O'Heir was also clear in saying that he's quite different from Jerry, with one of the most marked differences being their senses of humor. Jerry is pretty naive and oblivious, while O'Heir swears and relishes dirty jokes to the point that fans have told him they were surprised to hear "Jerry" saying certain words.

While O'Heir is keen to differentiate himself from his character, he does feel that being a little bit like Jerry isn't a bad thing. "I think Jerry's a great guy," he said in a video response to the AMA. "He might fumble a little... he might have some flatulence, but ultimately, he's a really good guy."

He's actually friends with the rest of the cast

On Parks and Recreation, the rest of the Parks Department employees gang up on Jerry. The words "Damn it, Jerry!" formed a collective catchphrase amongst the characters — one that O'Heir still hears frequently. Thankfully, O'Heir reassured Reddit users and concerned fans that he was far from excluded on set. He said that while his character is always taking the blame and getting ridiculed, it was the total opposite in between takes. 

O'Heir and the other cast members were constantly joking and laughing on set, and they still have what he described as "a Parks Family text" chain in which they chat. O'Heir's Parks and Rec co-star Aubrey Plaza, who played the forever-unimpressed April Ludgate, backed this fact up. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres in 2019, she said that the message thread gets an update every other day or so. Despite busy schedules, the Parks and Rec cast got the chance to meet up in person in June 2019, for a 10-year reunion panel at Paley Fest. During the panel, O'Heir revealed that the cast actually sometimes felt bad about the abuse levied at Jerry, especially king of the bloopers Chris Pratt, who portrayed the dim-witted goofball Andy Dwyer. There was one Jerry-bashing scene that Pratt tried to get out of (like everyone else, he had a soft spot for Jerry), but O'Heir insisted he press on.

In the AMA, O'Heir also revealed that Pratt would be the cast member he would turn to if he was arrested and had one phone call to make. He may have his Jerry moments, but O'Heir is far from out of luck or out of friends.