‘The Bear’ Star Jeremy Allen White Doesn’t Think Carmy Is ‘Ready to Enter a True Mentor’ Role in Season 2

White also tells TheWrap what he does hope to see in Season 2 of the series

FX Productions

Though their relationship might’ve been a contentious one, the bond between Sydney and Carmy was undeniably one of the best things about FX on Hulu’s “The Bear.” So, fans were pretty pleased to see her choose to forgive him and continue working with him in the season finale. But in all honesty, series star Jeremy Allen White isn’t sure Carmy is ready to be a mentor to anyone.

In the final minutes of the finale of “The Bear,” Carmy and his friends — minus Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) — have discovered that Carmy’s brother Michael kept the thousands of dollars he borrowed from Uncle Jimmy (Oliver Platt) stashed in the cans of tomato sauce at the restaurant. As they tear through the cans to find it all, Sydney walks in on the chaos. She and Carmy share a quiet moment, in which she agrees to return as his sous chef, and we’re left with the promise that “The Bear is Coming.”

So, with things seemingly forgiven and forgotten, Sydney and Carmy are set to team up once more to build their own restaurant. And though the two are pretty similar in their dreams, Jeremy Allen White admits Carmy maybe isn’t the best role model for her to look to.

“To be honest, I don’t think he is ready to enter a true like, mentor/mentee relationship,” White told TheWrap. “I don’t think he’s ready, and I think that’s proven in the first season, but will certainly be explored, I hope, in the second season.”

That’s not to say that Carmy is generally a bad guy. White just knows what the character’s been through with his family, and his career to this point. Really, he’s looking forward to seeing Carmy and Sydney try and work together to create this brand new restaurant. But that’s about all he knows on season two at this point.

“The Bear will come, I think that’s safe to say,” White said. “We’ll kind of see the construction of Carmy’s sort of, like, dream restaurant. But I hope that that sort of responsibility is shared with Sydney as well, and that it really is something that they kind of do together. I hope they explore the kind of challenges in the construction of something with two personalities and egos at work.”

You can check out TheWrap’s full conversation with Jeremy Allen White on Season 1 of “The Bear” — and what’s to come — below.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

I always like to lead with the important question, Jeremy, so — give me your best advice for wrangling an invisible bear on a bridge.

Sure, that’s an excellent question. I feel like Carmy would just — it looked like he was about to tackle him. But I don’t really know how to wrangle a bear. You know, that was actually a really talented stunt guy. And on the day he was just wearing like a bear head, and a suit. But the work they did in post was really amazing, because didn’t the bear look so much realer?

It did! But how was that conceptualized as where you were going to start things off? Because that’s a really interesting starting place for a series and to get into the mentality of Carmy.

Yeah, I mean, I think especially now with so much television, I think that Chris and Joanna knew that they needed to try and capture the audience immediately. And I think that the way our DP Adam kind of shot that sequence, and also like the bizarreness of the sequence itself, kind of immediately captured an audience, or at least like, asked the audience, “Do you want to come with us on this journey or not?” And people made their decisions very quickly, I think. But I think it was really great. Even the montage after that sort of opening sequence, it really, it plops you into the world, and it doesn’t give the audience much of a breath or too much information. I think we just hope that the audience like wants to exist in this place with us.

And it is an interesting place to exist. Carmy is a complex guy; he’s really been through some things. I’m curious, what was the most challenging aspect of him to for you to really kind of hone into?

I don’t know if it was hard necessarily, but what I found interesting about him and what I think my first understanding was, like, my heart really broke for him. He seemed so lonely to me, right away. His identity is so wrapped up in being a chef and being an incredibly successful chef. And once you finish the series, you realize that so much of that was kind of coming from a place of like, anger too. But I think like, I understood a little bit of — that feeling didn’t seem so foreign to me, I think, as a younger actor.

I’m grateful, my life has gotten bigger, and I found joy in a lot of places outside of my career, but I think there was a period kind of in my own, like, late teens or early 20s, where I had so much riding on my career. And if I was doing well, everything was great; if I wasn’t doing well, everything was awful. And I wanted recognition and success so fast. So I think that Carmy is still kind of existing in that place where he doesn’t have a personal life to speak of. He’s just so alone. And if he fails at this one thing that he’s so focused on, I really think it’s like the end of the world for him. And if he succeeds, ideally, he would receive all of this glory, but like, who even knows? Is this situation making Carmy miserable or is Carmy just built that way? You know what I mean?

Absolutely. And talking of how Carmy’s built, what I enjoy about the show is how it does take mental health seriously, especially when it comes to Carmy. How did you look out for your own mental health while filming this? Because you’re shooting the scenes, many of them oners, where you just kind of have to be hostile and really, really in it. So how did you look out for yourself on those days?

I don’t know if I did. You know, I felt a lot of pressure; this story is so important, for a lot of reasons, but it’s really important to Chris. Like, Chris had this idea for like 10 years, he’s had this character in his head for 10 years. It was a movie at one point, then it became a TV show, and it’s been a long time coming. So I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to like, get Carmy right, for Chris. And, yeah, it was a grueling [shoot]. We were here in January and February; I was away from my family.

And I don’t know, because I was away from my family, and because I was on my own, you know, I think I felt a little bit more comfortable, like, sinking into kind of rough feelings, and an unease that I think Carmy is dealing with all the time, and like a loneliness. I went from being in my home, with my kids and my wife, and you know, having people around all the time — and I love the cast, and everybody was great — but at the end of the day, I was going home to an empty apartment. So yeah, I think I was kind of leaning into all of that stuff more than I was trying to take care of myself.

I mean, we would have dinner like once a week and everybody was close, but I think the feelings that I was feeling made sense to carry on to the show at times.

If I have heard correctly, you got to work with tattoo artists to craft the tattoos for Carmy. Do you have a favorite tattoo you crafted for him? Tell me about that whole process, because that’s a unique, very personal thing.

Yeah, so I decided those tattoos with my friend Benny Shields. He’s a wonderful tattoo artist, [and] he also has a lot of knowledge on tattoos. He can kind of point out a tattoo on a stranger and kind of break down like maybe the decade in which they got it, and also, like regionally where they got it. He just has a lot of knowledge.

Jeremy Allen White as Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto in "The Bear" (FX)
Jeremy Allen White as Carmen ‘Carmy’ Berzatto in “The Bear” (FX)

And it’s really interesting. Like, I’m going to start designing tattoos, I feel like, for every character I play, whether they have them or not, because it’s an interesting way to understand a person, because if you’re choosing to have something on your body for the rest of your life, that says a lot about you, and what it is says a lot about you. So it was interesting, Ben would talk to me a lot about [it], he was like, “First tattoos are things that you can’t challenge. It’s going to be your mom’s name, your dad’s name, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, something to do with them, an area code — because no one can challenge you.” You say, “I grew up in Brooklyn, I got a 718 tattoo,” no one’s gonna really challenge you on that. So he said usually those first tattoos are things that, you know, you feel very secure in. And then we spoke about, like, where’d you get this tattoo? Why did you get this tattoo? Who gave it to you? What were they like? What was the inspiration to get this particular one?

So that was a really kind of fun way to start to get to know Carmy and shape him a little bit. But I think my favorite tattoo was the one on the hand, the knife through the hand. Because I think it’s just a nice reminder to me and for Carmy of just like, how close destruction is always for him specifically. I feel like he’s really close to always blowing everything up.

I also want to ask about the dynamic between Carmy and Sydney, because my favorite thing is when you allow a woman and a man to just exist on screen, with no sexual tension. They don’t force the love interest, here, it’s a professional relationship.

Totally. Yes, there’s a lot of respect.

Was that an aspect that attracted you to it? How did you guys craft that relationship?

Something I loved about the show in general was like, there were no like romantic tropes. The most sexually charged moment is like, Marcus and his doughnuts. There’s nothing else really going on. And yeah, there’s such a tremendous amount of kind of respect between Carmy and Sydney because they have a shared history, even though it was separate. They kind of came up the same way.

But I think there’s like some trauma bonding happening and they can really see and understand one another in ways that no one else in that environment can. So I think they feel a certain amount of safety with one another. But then of course, that’s always getting challenged. And maybe they got too comfortable at times, and maybe there was too much trust at times. Maybe there still is! Like, I love the moment at the end of the final episode where, you know, they’re finding the money, Sid comes back, He looks over, they instantly start talking about the restaurant. It’s a beautiful moment.

But also me as an audience member is like, “Sid, don’t go back in there, what are you doing? You gotta take care of yourself and protect yourself!” So yeah, I agree that that relationship was really interesting to me.

I was really fascinated by the mentorship aspect. Because Carmy has this whole history with his brother, where his brother wasn’t necessarily there for him. He didn’t get the mentoring he wanted. And now he gets to be put in the same position for Sydney, where he gets to really be a mentor to her. But is Carmy ready for that? Are we leading into that come Season 2?

Totally. Yeah, I mean, I think so much stuff is inherited by your parents or your older siblings. Like that’s how you really learn how to interact with the world. I don’t think Carmy’s parents were really around and I think that Michael — like, Carmy’s viewpoint in the world has so much to do with the way that Michael behaved. And I think it’s clear that Michael was incredibly avoidant with his feelings and how he moved in the world. And so I think Carmy has inherited a lot of that to a degree.

That being said, I do think Carmy is an incredibly decent person. I do think that he wants to be good and take care of people and like, communicate and be healing through his food and his service, you know? I think he’s just very stunted socially. He doesn’t know how to really communicate. So the only way he can do that is kind of in food. And to be honest, I don’t think he is ready to enter a true mentor/mentee relationship. I don’t think he’s ready, and I think that’s proven in the first season, but will certainly be explored, I hope, in the second season.”

Well, Season 2, I’m thrilled it’s happening because with that finale, it was crafted well. It could have been a series finale.

I know, I kept reading stuff was that like, “Could just be one season!” And I was like “Shhhh. Shut up.” (laughs). Chris and Joanna wrote too well.

Have you guys started working on Season 2 yet? What do you know, at this point? Or, what do you want?

It’s all very early stages. I really don’t know anything other than The Bear will come. I think that’s safe to say. We’ll kind of see the construction of Carmy’s sort of, like, dream restaurant. But I hope that that sort of responsibility is shared with Sydney as well, and that it really is something that they kind of do together. I hope they explore the kind of challenges in the construction of something with two personalities and egos at work.

the bear

And then I don’t know, there was something that Chris and I spoke about. Chris and I got together for coffee once a week for a couple of months before we shot the pilot, just talking about everything. And we talked a little bit of where he wanted it to go. And I think he was interested in the concept, and I am too, of Carmy kind of receiving the notoriety that he so desires. And once he gets that, still not really being content. And what does that say about him and what does that mean? I think that would be an interesting thing to explore.

I also want to talk about filming in Chicago. Because, as a Chicagoan myself, I’ve always believed that Chicago doesn’t get nearly enough love in terms of filming projects in the city. And this is not your first rodeo here. So how has it been to be back? What’s your favorite aspect of filming in the city?

I mean, it feels really cool. I’ve always loved the people; I’ve always loved the nightlife and the camaraderie of the city. I was here when the Cubs won the World Series, which feels like such a beautiful moment and gave me such a true understanding of, like, the pride that Chicagoans take. It was crazy! I think I read somewhere that it was one of the one of the largest collections of people outside of like, religious or war reasons. And it was truly madness. [It was] impressive how anybody who ever lived in Chicago for any amount of time hopped on a plane wherever they were in the world, and just came here. Anyway, that was a very romantic kind of moment.

But I think I had my understanding Chicago while I was shooting “Shameless,” and then it was cool to come into “The Bear” and kind of like, I felt like I was wearing a different pair of sunglasses or something like that. I was just understanding another world, and there’s so many worlds, obviously, like perspectives on any city. So I feel lucky to come back to the city I know. But then also take something different.

And before we go, I gotta know, do you and the cast actually call each other chef now?

All the time. Chris, Jo, the directors, are chef. We are chef. Maddie is chef chef, Courtney is Chef chef because they’re real chefs. But yeah, it’s just fun. It’s non-binary. It’s a fun way to address one another. It’s fun to say! Especially like if we had a really great take one day, everybody would be like “Cheeeffff!”

The first season of “The Bear” is now streaming on FX on Hulu.