To either the chagrin or the joy of high school English teachers everywhere, Hulu has adapted the 1961 Joseph Heller novel Catch-22 into a six-episode miniseries, executive produced, among others, by George Clooney. Clooney plays the role of the Lieutenant Scheisskopf as well as taking on directing duties, but viewers tuning in may be wondering who plays YoYo on Catch-22. Christopher Abbott takes on the classic literary character.
Abbott is probably best known for his role as Charlie on HBO's Girls, Marnie's mushy boyfriend whom she eventually cheats on with Booth Jonathan, dumps, and later reconnects with in the fifth season, only to realize with horror that he's become a heroin addict. After Girls, Abbott went on to play Mason Tannetti, Cora Tanner's (Jessica Biel) husband on the first season of USA's limited series thriller The Sinner.
Interestingly enough, The Sinner stars Bill Pullman, whose son Lewis Pullman also appears in Catch-22 alongside Abbott. (Pullman tackles the role of Major Major, who was played by Bob Newhart in the 1970 film adaptation.) Playing John "YoYo" Yosarrian will be Abbott's third major TV role. He's appeared in a slew of films as well, including 2016's star-studded film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot alongside Tina Fey.
Prior to his film and TV career, Abbott performed both on and off-Broadway, most notably in the 2011 House of Blue Leaves revival alongside Ben Stiller and Edie Falco, the latter of whom Abbott had previously worked with on an episode on Nurse Jackie.
In Catch-22, he plays YoYo, the antihero of the story and a captain in the Air Force who serves as a bombardier during World War II. (For context, Heller was also a bombardier in the Air Force during World War II.) As YoYo is forced to fly a dangerous number of life-threatening missions, he finds himself stuck in the story's central paradox: a vague military by-law called "Catch-22," in which pleading insanity to get out of flying an unsafe number of missions proves a pilots sanity, thereby disqualifying them from pleading insanity. So, to survive the war, YoYo embarks on an increasingly absurdist mission to avoid manning his flights.
Other A-listers rounding out the cast include Emmy-winning Friday Night Lights alum Kyle Chandler, who plays the main antagonist Colonel Cathcart, and House's Hugh Laurie who plays Major de Coverley.
Clooney and Abbott appeared on the cover of Variety promoting the series and Clooney raved about its star, admitting that it's incredibly difficult to do literary figures justice when adapting famous novels. (One thing that apparently helped break the tension in Abbott's audition is that Clooney showed up wearing his old-timey football helmet from Leatherheads; "I was like, 'All right, we can play,'" Abbott said of how the stunt instantly relaxed him.)
"It was a big ship, and he had to be the captain of it," Clooney told the trade, pointing out that Abbott was the same age he was when ER took off, "And he did it easily."
Catch-22 is now streaming in its entirety on Hulu.