Jeremy Allen White interview: ‘The Bear’

“He’s sort of addicted to the possibility of everything falling apart,” declares Jeremy Allen White about his role as an emotionally damaged chef for the FX on Hulu series “The Bear.” The freshman series about a beleaguered Italian sandwich shop in Chicago debuted in mid 2022 to universal acclaim and has already been renewed for a second season, set to air sometime in 2023. White, fresh off a 10-year run on the hit Showtime series “Shameless,” stars as Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, an award-winning chef who returns to Chicago to take over his late brother’s sandwich shop. Check out our exclusive video interview with White above.

After reading the script for “The Bear,” White describes feeling and immediate sense of empathy for Carmy.  “I think my heart really broke for him,” he explains. “He seemed to be so incredibly  lonely and uncomfortable with himself, but also very determined and very skilled in what he does. So I think he has this real confidence but also crippling insecurity at the same time, and the juxtaposition of those things I think I found really, really interesting.”

In trying to convey Carmy’s inner turmoil, White spent a lot of time imagining Carmy’s memories of the restaurant and what those memories mean to the character. “I thought a lot about the restaurant — memories of Carmy’s there, the ghosts that are there,” he says. “I tried to focus a lot on environment and kind of like what’s Carmy’s sort of baseline when he’s existing in this place when he’s come home. I think it’s an incredibly uncomfortable space for him to sit in.”

White put equal effort into the technical aspects of being a chef, spending time in actual restaurant kitchens among the line chefs. He recalls doing mostly prep work until one night when the chef forced onto the line and told him to start cooking. “So I was on the line with these line cooks and I was so, so scared,” he says. “But that anxiety really fuels decision making, and I probably learned the most and got the most confident through getting shoved into an uncomfortable position.”

White faced more dramatic challenges in one of the season’s most impactful scenes. After his anger alienates most of his staff, Carmy attends an Al-Anon meeting and shares the roots of his emotional trauma. The emotional seven minute monologue — delivered mostly in one long close-up — was actually shot on the last day of filming for the season. White knew how important the speech was and was had very specific ideas about how to deliver it. “Carmy is not a vocal person, not a great communicator. And so I felt like it was important that while maybe he’s thought about these things, he’s really coming to realizations as he’s speaking to the group, speaking to himself,” explains White. “So it was a tough balance to find because obviously , it’s a lot of words to memorize. But I didn’t wanna get it too cold. I didn’t want it to be like on the tip of my tongue, every next word.”

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UPLOADED Nov 29, 2022 9:30 am