Ebon Moss-Bachrach interview: ‘The Bear’
It’s difficult to imagine in hindsight, but Ebon Moss-Bachrach nearly let the opportunity to play Richie Jerimovich — the brassy, bombastic yet oddly charming jack of all trades on the FX on Hulu hit “The Bear” — slip through the cracks. He was prepping to head to the U.K. to work in the “Star Wars” prequel series “Andor” that streams on Disney+, and he hadn’t had time to read the scripts he’d been sent. His agent called to stress that this was potentially a great role for him. “I’m so glad my agent stayed on me, because it turned out to be one of the best things I ever read.” And even after just a single eight-episode season, it’s looking like a career-altering role for the actor. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
As soon as “The Bear” launched last June, the intense, pulse-pounding series set inside a Chicago Italian beef establishment instantly became the surprise hit of summer. (It was renewed for a second streaming season that’s expected to premiere sometime in June.) “We were all pretty shocked with the volume and intensity of the response we got,” Moss-Bachrach admits. “It was an incredible surprise to everybody. I do think a lot of it was a symptom of having such a chaotic and dense show filled with people who were all over each other after having been isolated for so many months due to COVID.
“It was these bursts of a hot kitchen and people bouncing off of each other like a pinball machine after being in such a compartmentalized existence where you couldn’t see anybody. It was like overdue medicine, seeing that energy and people who formed like a little family. It was this tonic for viewers who had been so deprived of contact with other people. I’ll tell you one thing it wasn’t: the food. I watch this show and I don’t get hungry at all.”
“It’s definitely gratifying (to get this kind of feedback),” Moss-Bachrach says. “What I really like is when people approach me and just the range of people’s interpretations of Richie. Some people find him so sympathetic. Some people find him just a complete a-hole. I enjoy that he’s divisive and open to interpretation. I’m not so interested in playing a character that’s just, ‘This is who this person is.’ I like the audience to have some kind of component in his identity.”The character of Richie is loud, intense and hard-edged, though with a genuine vulnerability. As the show opens, he’s still reeling from the suicide of his best friend, Michael, the owner of the restaurant that Carmy (White) obliged to take over. “I like to push behavior, and I like to flirt with absurdism,” he says, “but I always want to stay truthful to my character and stay in service of the story. We find this man at a really horrible time in his life and kind of sinking. He’s lost so much and his back is against the wall, and I think that kind of predicament can support some pretty erratic behavior…I’ve known a few guys like Richie.”