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Interview: Ebon Moss-Bachrach on ‘The Bear’ and his Career

Few celebrities have quite the year as Ebon Moss-Bachrach. The actor delivered a breakthrough performance with the hit FX television series The Bear, while also starring alongside Diego Luna in Andor, the latest Star Wars series streaming exclusively on Disney+. Moss-Bachrach is currently working on No Hard Feelings, a brand new comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence

Awards Radar had the opportunity of speaking with Moss-Bachrach, where he discussed his performance in The Bear, Andor, his career and even the possibility of starring in a musical film. You can read the full interview below, and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments:

Awards Radar: When Richie, your character from The Bear, was first described to you, what made you connect with him?

Ebon Moss-Bachrach: I think that one of the things that made me connect with Richie is that I’m kind of an old-fahsioned person to begin with. I live in a city that is constantly reinventing itself all the time and I’m always mourning things. I go outside, walk down the street and think “Oh my God, that deli I used to go to all the time is gone”. Or “That great jazz DJ that I’ve been listening to for the past twenty years has died”.

Maybe it’s me and the combination of getting older, I’m not particularly old, but I’m older than most people at this point, I’m forty-five. I connected with these old ideas about the world. With Richie, these ideas are out of touch sometimes. Mine are probably too. But it’s a love of the past, maybe that’s a simpler way of saying it.

AR: You’ve received lots of praise for this performance (and deservedly so). While you were filming it, did you think you would get this kind of response?

EMB: Thanks! And no, absolutely not. We would be insane if we thought: “Oh yeah, this is going to be a huge hit”. (laughs) We would be insane egomaniacs! No, I think we all thought we were making something really cool. When I would try to describe the show to people before it came out, I used to say: “It’s about a chef, he comes home to take over his family’s sandwich shop in Chicago because his brother, who was an addict, killed himself.” And everyone would look at me like: “Huh? That’s a show?”.

I knew that we were making something cool. I knew that we were making something that was deeply enjoyable to make. I had the instinct that we were capturing the energy we felt while making it. It was interesting and I felt that I was translating it to the cameras. But no, I never have any idea if people are going to watch anything.

AR: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you spoke with older people in Chicago to listen to their point in order to prepare for your role in The Bear. What are three places in Chicago that helped you for inspiration?

EMB: That’s such a nice question! For starters, ironically, there’s a bar called Richard’s Bar. It’s in a neighbourhood called West Loop, I think. I don’t know if I’m getting the neighbourhood wrong, don’t quote me on that one. It’s a bar that’s been there for a very long time and it’s attached to a really great Italian restaurant. It’s one of the few bars in Chicago, and probably in the country, where you can still smoke cigarettes. And because you can, people do to a really intense degree. It’s a classic Chicago establishment with mean bar tenders and lovely customers. (laughs)

I spent a lot of time at a restaurant called Biagio, which is a restaurant that is very close to where the Bulls and the Blackhawks play. That’s also a very warm room. I will say this about Chicago, it has that cliché from the entire Midwest of the United States, as in there’s friendliness and willingness to talk to strangers and I found that a lot of times to be true. There’s a warmth that is not common where I’m from, which is the Northeast.

There’s also a restaurant called Gene and Georgetti, which is really just an old-fashioned, wood-panelled restaurant that I just adore. I would recommend it to anyone visiting Chicago, at least for one meal.

AR: Next year marks the twentieth anniversary of Death of a Dynasty premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. How do you think a character like Dave Katz would fit in the modern music industry?

EMB: (laughs) Oh my God, Diego, that’s a really good question. I haven’t thought about that movie or character for a really long time. Have you seen that movie?

AR: No (laughs) I really tried to find it, but I couldn’t.

EMB: (laughs) I don’t think you can. (laughs). I don’t know, I don’t have a good answer for that. I could make something up but it wouldn’t be truthful. I’m not sure. But it’s a good question.

AR: Ten years go, Come Out and Play wasn’t a huge hit, but it allowed you to be a part of the Mexican film industry. If you could be a part of any foreign film industry, which one would it be and why?

EMB: I think Mexican cinema is super exciting. Working on that movie was such a delight. We had a really small crew. I’ve now worked in Mexico twice and I think the crews are really, really good. They’re also really young, that was amazing. I worked on a music video about three years ago in Mexico City for Interpol. We shot with a very young crew all around the city.

I’ve been lucky enough to work in Tokyo, Hungary, and all over the place. I’d love to work in Mexico again, hopefully as soon as possible. I’m interested in what is going on in Romania, with the new wave cinema that is happening there. But, for me, keeping switching things up is important.

AR: Theatre has been a major part of your career. Have you ever considered being a part of a musical film?

EMB: No.Not really. I think there are people who are way better suited for that than me. (laughs). Music is very important to me, but I’m not that good of a singer. Maybe I can play an instrument.

AR: Spoilers for the first season of Andor. Did you think your character deserve to die? Or was it Cassian’s mistake not to trust him?

EMB: I don’t think it’s perfectly clear that what Skeen is saying to Cassian in that final scene of his is the truth. I’m not convinced that he is genuinely offering Cassian an opportunity to take the money and leave. I think there is a possibility that he was trying to flush him out. He was trying to test Cassian again. It was obviously the wrong thing for Skeen to do because he didn’t make it out of there alive. But he was a very fun character to play.

AR: You’re currently working on No Hard Feelings, starring Jennifer Lawrence. What do you think audiences might find interesting about this new comedy?

EMB: That’s easy. I think Jennifer Lawrence is really goofy in this movie, in a way that she hasn’t been in the past. The movie reminds me of some 90’s comedies I really used to like. I don’t want to misrepresent the movie, but there were elements which reminded me of the Farelly brothers, or Something About Mary. There’s a decent amount of physical comedy, and Jennifer Lawrence is very commited to it. It was a very funny set.

AR: You’ve had an amazing year. A breakthrough at the age of forty-five years young. How do you feel about this point of your career and the fact that you’ve achieved so much at this age?

EMB: I’m very excited about the year I’ve had and the response to it. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a bunch of good stuff. Over the years I hadn’t been able to say yes or no to things. I’ve had to do what I got to pay the bills. It’s been very exciting to get to a place where I can feel a little bit more in control. As an actor, you come into a job late in its creation, but now it is nice to be a little bit more active in my career.

I’ve been doing it for a long time and I’ve always felt grateful to build a career with make-belief. I’m very excited about what’s happening now, but I’m also realistic about it. I’ll enjoy it for as long as it happens, but I’m happy to continue on. I know these things don’t last forever, but it is sweet while it lasts.

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Written by Diego Peralta

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