‘The Bear’: The 10 best celeb cameos from TV’s most stressful comedy

‘The Bear’: The 10 best celeb cameos from TV’s most stressful comedy

Celebrities are lining up for the chance to yell, “Yes, chef!”

FX’s hit half-hour comedy “The Bear” picked up a whopping 13 2023 Emmy nominations in today’s big reveal — but in Hollywood’s eyes, the show, now in its second season, is already a winner, with A-listers calling their agents to secure them a quick cameo.

The story revolves around talented-but-damaged chef Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White), who moves home to Chicago after a three-Michelin-star stint, getting back to basics at the family’s Italian beef joint. “The Bear” received a nod for Outstanding Comedy Series, pitting it against big-hitters like Max’s “Barry” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso.”

Featuring top-notch performances from the likes of White (“Shameless”), Ayo Edebiri (“Big Mouth”) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“Girls”) — all of whom received Emmy nominations for their work in Season 1 — an additional highlight has been guessing which famous actors will pop up next, anywhere from a few moments to multiple episodes.

As we celebrate “The Bear’s” nominations today, we also celebrate 10 of the most iconic cameos from the series so far.

1. Jamie Lee Curtis as Donna Berzatto

Jamie Lee Curtis smiles softly in the kitchen.
Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis takes on a mascara-streaked role in the form of Donna Berzatto, the put-upon matriarch whose antics in a Christmas flashback inform the present storyline.

The indomitable JLC, still basking in the Academy Award glow for her work in last year’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” turns in a career-highlight performance as Carmy’s mother in the “Fishes” episode.

Donna lights cigarette after cigarette while railing against her ungrateful family as she prepares a traditional Italian Christmas dinner of seven fishes. As tensions rise throughout the evening, Curtis acts the part of besieged matriarch with terrifying clarity.

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2. Jon Bernthal as Michael Berzatto

A close-up of John Bernthal shows him crying.
Jon Bernthal’s performance as the late Michael Berzatto fuels a high-octane family holiday when the actor returns in a Season 2 flashback.

This one is a bit of a cheat, considering that Bernthal appeared semi-regularly as Carmy’s late brother in Season 1 flashbacks.

But Bernthal (best known for “The Punisher”) is a sight for sore eyes when he returns in “Fishes,” where he toes the line between instigator and loving brother as the barely-holding-it-together Berzattos attempt to get through the holiday.

3. Bob Odenkirk as Uncle Lee

Bob Odenkirk sits at the dinner table.
Bob Odenkirk causes drama at the dinner table in his cameo in sixth episode of Season 2.

Greta Gerwig once said of casting Bob Odenkirk as Mr. March in “Little Women”: “I was thinking, what if your dad came home from the war and it was Bob Odenkirk?”

In “The Bear,” the actor beloved for his portrayal of Saul Goodman in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” is a less-welcome presence as he stirs the pot at the dinner table — but we’re still thrilled to see this native Chicagoan in the mix.

4. Sarah Paulson as Cousin Michelle

Sarah Paulson sits at the dinner table with a concerned look.
Sarah Paulson is raucous, stylish and warm as she plays a member of the Berzatto clan’s star-studded episode, “Fishes.”

Sarah Paulson is delightful as Carmy’s cool NYC aunt in the cameo-filled episode “Fishes.”

When she isn’t busy terrifying us in “American Horror Story,” turns out she makes a pretty awesome relative to have in your corner, when everyone else seems to be losing their minds.

5. John Mulaney as Stevie

John Mulaney close-up.
John Mulaney delivers his lines with gusto as Stevie, the boyfriend who’s in over his head at a wild family holiday.

John Mulaney gets a few scene-stealing moments in his cameo as Cousin Michelle’s boyfriend, somewhat over-his-head amid the drama of “Fishes.”

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Another famous Chicagoan, Mulaney’s stand-up comedy has turned him into one of the most recognizable names on this list.

6. Olivia Colman as Chef Terry

Olivia Colman smiles in a chef's uniform.
Olivia Colman provides a moment of delightful warmth as the former boss of Carmy and Chef Luca.

Can we get a Chef Terry spinoff please? The second Academy Award winner to grace this list, the world’s favorite mother figure provides a much-needed moment of heart while casually peeling mushrooms with a suddenly civilized Richie (Moss-Bachrach) at the end of Episode 7, “Forks.”

Known for her Emmy-winning work in “The Crown” and anything else you may have seen in the past decade, Colman is revealed to be the former boss of Carmy and Chef Luca, the next entry on this list.

7. Will Poulter as Chef Luca

Will Poulter (right) as Chef Luca trains Marcus (left, played by Lionel Boyce) in the art of pastry-making during Marcus’ visit to Copenhagen.

Poulter’s fancy Copenhagen pastry chef was certainly a sweet treat for viewers who very specifically enjoy watching men with large arms put very tiny decorations on very pretty desserts.

You may recognize the hard-working British actor from “Midsommar,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Detroit,” and “We’re the Millers.”

8. Robert Townsend as Mr. Adamu (or, Sydney’s dad)

Sydney (right) and her father (left) enjoy a meal at a diner.
Robert Townsend (left) is a supportive father to Sydney (right, played by Edebiri) as she pursues her dream of being a Michelin-star chef.

If you don’t know Robert Townsend, you should. Putting in an earnest performance as Sydney’s dad, particularly in Season 2, Chicago native Townsend has collected impressive credits over the years as a comedian and director of films like “Hollywood Shuffle” and “Eddie Murphy: Raw.”

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9. Joel McHale as “NYC Chef”

Joel McHale towers over an off-screen character while wearing a chef's uniform.
Joel McHale towers over Carmy in flashbacks where he hurls abuse at “The Bear’s” leading man.

No, really — that’s Joel McHale, a long way from his Jeff Winger days in “Community.” McHale appears in seasons 1 and 2 as Carmy’s former boss, who offered his then-CDC (sorry, chef de cuisine) memorable positive reinforcement as: “You’re nothing” and “You should be dead.”

10. Gillian Jacobs as Tiffany Jerimovich (Richie’s ex-wife)

Gillian Jacobs looks at someone off-screen.
Gillian Jacobs is a funny and delightful counterpart to the unruly Richie in her scenes as his ex-wife.

We have to wonder: Was the “Community” group-chat active when “The Bear” was filling out its guest spots?

Gillian Jacobs, best known for her work as Britta on the long-running NBC sitcom, features here as the ex-wife of Richie — perhaps TV’s finest fictional 40-something man with sad eyes.

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