If Jay Hayden looks familiar, odds are that it’s because you’ve seen his entire life flash before your eyes on TV. In a memorable AT&T commercial, he managed to change his train ticket with his phone, meet his future wife, have a child, and then raise that child to become America’s president — all in 30 seconds. Not bad as far as accomplishments go, right?
Now, Jay's set for a new undertaking. He’ll be exploring politics again, but this time as the star of Battleground, Hulu’s first original series, which premieres today. In an exclusive interview with Wetpaint Entertainment, he dishes on his character, head campaign strategist Chris "Tak" Davis, who leads a motley crew of staffers and volunteers in this The Office-meets-Friday Night Lights mockumentary.
For those wary of politics, Jay says it's really about relationships. "It's about the roller coaster ride of the team that works their asses off 24 hours, seven days a week to get somebody elected, and professional and personal sacrifices that they make on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis to accomplish that," he says.
"I really loved the show because I wasn't always sure if Tak was the protagonist or the antagonist," adds Jay. "I think that that's something he struggles with every day, which makes the show so watchable."
As for the adorable, up-and-coming actor himself, here’s what you need to know:
He started from scratch
After graduating from the University of Vermont, Jay followed his dream and moved to Los Angeles. "I struggled because I didn't know one person. No one told me what to do. I didn't know how to get a headshot or how to get an audition or any of that," he says. "But eventually, you meet people that take care of you." Eventually, he landed an agent and started booking commercials. "I loved it," he says. "For a small town kid from Vermont, it's like, 'Oh, my God, this is awesome!'"
He has creepy fans
When you become the go-to guy for commercials about living the American dream, you’re going to have some unlikely admirers. "This one dude looked like he literally stepped out of a biker bar, and he was like, 'Hey, man. You're in that AT&T commercial where you see the girl and get on the train? That's my wife's favorite f***ing commercial. I tried to TiVo that sh*t,'" recalls Jay. "I was like, 'How do I get out of this without being killed?' But in his own weird way, he was paying me the nicest compliment."
Sorry, ladies, he’s taken
Jay is happily married to "Taco Bell Denise," or rather, actress Nicole Hayden. Together they have a three-year-old daughter, Amelia, who’s already following in her parents' footsteps. "She's very into playing pretend," says Jay, adding jokingly. "We should pray that she doesn't become an actor. We're thinking doctor or a lawyer."
He wants to be your Valentine’s Day plan
"I'm not asking you to miss your Valentine's date," he says. "But when your girlfriend is in the shower getting ready for a date, you can watch the show while she's getting ready. You know when she says, 'I'll be right out'? That means 35 minutes. So right there, you've got more than enough time to watch the show."
Battleground airs on Hulu every Tuesday, starting February 14.