Jeremy Allen White

Jeremy Allen White Is Not Afraid to Cry

"The Bear" star opens up about the vulnerability that drew him to Carmy Berzatto, his first kiss, and the legendary Chicago food he absolutely will not eat.

Yes, Jeremy Allen White is aware of all the horny memes. And he honestly couldn't care less.

"I don't have a lot of online presence," he says. "I have Instagram. I don't have Twitter. I don't have any Google alerts set on anything or anybody, certainly not myself."

A man in this day and age with little-to-no social media? Green flag. While a less seasoned actor might have been affected by the newfound attention and heightened fame that comes with starring in a hit show, Jeremy is just happy to be here. And maybe that's because he began acting at age 13 — a long time before his breakout role and decades-long stint as the sharp-but-rebellious Phillip "Lip" Gallagher on Showtime's Shameless, which earned him critical acclaim and a bit of a bad-boy heartthrob reputation with fans.

Jeremy Allen White
Kendall Bessent; Illustrations by Jeremy Allen White; Denim Shirt: DL1961

Since the show wrapped in 2021, White worked on various indie films until he struck gold again with his role as the talented and troubled chef Carmen "Carmy" Berzatto on FX's The Bear. With a lead whose face launched a thousand thirsty memes and a perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the show was bound to be a success as soon as it hit Hulu's homepage in June. Set in Chicago, the show revolves around Carmy as he leaves one pressure cooker for another when his brother suddenly passes away and he's forced to leave a 5-star kitchen to run his family's restaurant (The Original Beef of Chicagoland). With a rag-tag group of line cooks, mounting debt, and an undercurrent of unresolved grief, chaos ensues.

You can't go a day on Twitter without seeing a fan-made edit of Jeremy, and recently "Yes, chef" made it into a New Yorker cartoon, but the actor says all the attention is just a bonus for him. "I am grateful," he shares. "I love to act. I'm so lucky I get to do it as often as I do. I know that people watching your work is an important part of continuing to get to act, but it was never really a goal of mine to have a really big following."

Kendall Bessent

The confident, self-assured actor sitting before me during our interview felt worlds away from the anxious, roiled-by-grief character he plays on The Bear. When I met him for the first time, White entered the room in a nondescript t-shirt and jeans, his signature curls tucked into a baseball cap. He's no flash, all substance. You almost wouldn't have known that he was on set mere moments before, giving bedroom eyes and a coy smile for these photos.

While the image of White comes through in the photos, the concept of him — the ones fans have constructed by attaching too much to his work — is not what you expect. He's not a "Sexually Competent Dirtbag." He's not the line cook that you "dated" for approximately three months before they ghosted. He's not Lip, and he's certainly not Carmy. There's a fair amount of projection happening, White admits. "I'm trying to differentiate: Who do people think Carmy is, and who do people think Carmy looks like? Because I've seen a lot of this scumbag stuff, but I don't think Carmy is a scumbag at all."

Jeremy Allen White
Kendall Bessent; Denim Shirt: DL1961

"Are you sick of doing these?" I joke at some point during our interview. It can't be easy, flitting from interview to late-night appearance to photo shoot after The Bear blew up and became the show of the summer. "No," he replies earnestly. "I mean, it's easy. I've done press for stuff that I haven't been so crazy about, and I am truly proud of The Bear. So, I'm happy to talk about it."

What first attracted him to the role of Carmen Berzatto, is interestingly enough, one of White's most attractive qualities: vulnerability. "My heart really broke for him," he shared. "[Carmy]'s obviously gone through this really traumatic thing right before you meet him, which made him interesting. I realized that Carmy's identity was just completely wrapped up in being a chef and being really successful at it. And, I don't know, that made the rest of his life very lonely."

As much insistence as I get from White about the distance between who he is and who he portrays, I get the sense that he is also fiercely protective of his character. "He's got tattoos, and his hair's greasy, but I don't think that necessarily makes a person a scumbag." White's empathy for Carmen really shines through every scene, most notably during his 7-minute monologue in the last episode of season 1.

Jeremy Allen White Polaroids
Jeremy Allen White
Jeremy Allen White Polaroids
Jeremy Allen White

The power of that scene is palpable through the screen as a viewer, and that's precisely due to White's insistence that he give every take his all. "I was putting a lot of pressure on myself throughout the shoot," he says, and on his last day on set, that self-inflicted pressure came to a head. "I was really feeling like I let Chris [The Bear showrunner] down. I guess he sensed that a little bit, and he did that thing that just wrecks you when you're really close to crying, which is he just started gently rubbing my back a little bit." Naturally, the tears came flowing; a release White says he'd been building up to while carrying Carmy's trauma throughout the production.

Speaking of the finale, I remember being struck by a distinctive tattoo of Carmy's: a hand with a chef's knife going through it. "I created all of Carmy's tattoos with a friend of mine named Ben Shields, who's a tattoo artist," White excitedly gestures. As he collaborated with Shields to make the finer details of his character come to life, the motive behind this piece of ink in particular became central to not only who Carmy is, but where he's been: "I thought it was a nice reminder of just how close Carmy is to ruining his life. It's hard exactly how to put into words why it does, but there's a self-sabotaging aspect to Carmy. And I think that a knife through the hand speaks to that a little bit."

Jeremy Allen White
Kendall Bessent

It's no secret that White takes his craft seriously, but his proudest role to date? Being a husband and father. He married his childhood sweetheart, Addison Timlin, in 2019, and the couple has since brought two little girls (whom he calls his "best friends") into the world. The doodles he scrawled on paper for us on set include a smiley face the way his daughter makes them, and a heart with nicknames he and his wife share for one another. So, how has life changed since becoming a family man? "I learn a lot from them. I feel like in a lot of ways, they're teaching me all the time how to be better: how to be better to them; how to be better to my wife, my friends, my parents, my sister. I think I've been ready to domesticate for a long time, and I'm so happy to be in the house all the time with them."

I know what you're thinking: Just when I thought he couldn't get any hotter. Yes, our resident heartthrob and certified zaddy also loves being a dad — so much so, he got a tattoo dedicated to his first-born.

Jeremy Allen White
Kendall Bessent. Illustrations by Jeremy Allen White

"When I found out that my wife and I were pregnant...she called me because she wanted to just tell me right away. We had just moved into our house in Los Angeles, and I was sitting in the backyard to have a little rest. And there was this really old tree sitting in the corner, with a hummingbird nest in it. The tree was dead, but the nest looked like it had been there for a long time. As my wife was telling me we were pregnant, my eyes were just on this hummingbird darting around the whole time. So, I got a little hummingbird for Ezer, our oldest daughter."

So, no, Jeremy Allen White is no scumbag, no matter what Twitter (lovingly) declares. Read on to discover what he's watching these days (spoiler: he's a Housewives fan!), the tea on his first kiss, and the last thing that made him cry.

Jeremy Allen White
Kendall Bessent

Who is your celebrity crush?

Forever it's been Natalie Portman.

What is the last thing you do before you fall asleep?

So embarrassing and wrong, but we're always watching ... We have a big TV in our bedroom, and we fall asleep watching TV. But we have to stop, and I know that.

What are you watching these days?

I think everything that we are into now is pure escape, like Million Dollar Listing, the Housewives, all that stuff. But we watched Severance, which was more highbrow, I guess, which we really loved.

Who's your favorite villain?

Weird thing about villains: They don't feel like villains. I guess one of my favorite movies (it sounds weird, as a kid, but I saw it when I was really young) was The Talented Mr. Ripley. And I've always really loved that movie. And I think a lot of it is because before it became fashionable, with the Sopranos and Dexter and all these series where you're following a protagonist, which is also the antagonist or the villain of the series, I feel like that movie was that — where you're asked to really follow and understand somebody who's really sick and truly the villain. I could watch that movie, especially in the summer, even though it's so dark, it's so beautiful. The clothing and the time and Italy, I just love that movie.

He's a villain that you really feel for by the end, which is great. Matt Damon is great at making you feel for him.

Yeah. And everybody was so ... My god, Jude Law is so beautiful. And Philip Seymour Hoffman is just amazing.

What's the first album you ever owned?

It was probably ... Could it have been? I feel like I got the Save the Last Dance soundtrack on CD, which has some great, great music in it, but it's a really embarrassing first CD, I guess.

Tell me about the last time you cried.

It was our last day of filming. I had this really intense scene to do the last day of filming, and I always knew it was on the last day. And I was putting a lot of pressure on myself throughout the shoot. And I think it was just that thing of, I'd built it up so much in my head that no matter what I did, I wasn't going to be pleased with it, I guess. So, we did it a couple times, and I felt like I let everybody down. And we went to the next location, I was being really standoffish and quiet. And we did a rehearsal for the next scene, which was the last scene of the shoot. There was a lot of things going on. I'm not really good at goodbyes. Last days, it's always hard for me on a set. I'm pretty close to tears any day on the last day. But I was really feeling like I let Chris [Storer] down. I guess he sensed that a little bit, and he did that thing that just wrecks you when you're really close to crying, which is he just started gently rubbing my back a little bit.

Describe your first kiss.

My first kiss ... I believe was in a Key Food in Windsor Terrace [Brooklyn] when I was in second or third grade. We were with her mom, I think, and her mom was checking out. And we were by the gumball machines by the automatic door.

One dish you're always tempted to order if you see it on a menu.

I really love Thai food. And I'm just like a really big fan of different larbs, just a minced meat dish with all these wonderful flavors. Sometimes, I'll have a fried egg on it. So, I've tried a lot of different Thai places, and that's always something that I will get. No matter what else the table's ordering, I'll always try their larb.

Last question: Chicago-style hotdog or deep-dish pizza? You have to choose one.

Deep-dish pizza is disgusting. That's the easiest question I've ever been asked.

Spoken like a true New Yorker.

It doesn't make any sense. It's so doughy. Get it out here. I don't need it.

Photographs: Kendall Bessent, assisted by Ryder. Grooming: Melissa DeZarate. Polaroids by Jeremy Allen White. Special thanks to Polaroid. Creative Director: Jenna Brillhart. Senior Editorial Director: Laura Norkin. Art Direction: Amanda Lauro. Senior Visuals Editor: Kelly Chiello. Social Direction: Danielle Fox. Video Director: Justine Manocherian. Executive Producer: Bree Green. Booking: Christopher Luu.

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