Jamie Lee Curtis delivered a raw and captivating performance as Donna Berzatto, Carmy’s mom, in the highly acclaimed Hulu drama. Her portrayal in the “Fishes” episode of Season 2 left viewers in awe and eagerly anticipating her return in the season finale.
The Casting Adventure: How Jamie Lee Curtis Joined “The Bear” as Carmy’s Mom
Casting directors Jeanie Bacharach and Maggie Bacharach didn’t want The Bear to be overshadowed by stunt casting. However, they were drawn to larger-than-life personalities for the intense and heightened “Fishes” episode. Jamie Lee Curtis was a perfect fit. Jeanie explained:
“We wanted heavy hitters who felt larger than life. It wasn’t about getting famous people for this episode, but the nature of the episode led us to more well-known individuals.”
Jeanie and Maggie understood the importance of finding the right actress to portray Donna. They carefully read the Season 2 scripts in advance to comprehend the character. Jeanie shared:
“We had fun making idea lists [of actors] and considering the destructiveness, mental health issues, addiction, brokenness, and pain underlying the character. There was a lot to consider.”
Although many talented actresses were considered, Jamie Lee Curtis emerged as the obvious choice for the demanding role. Jeanie revealed:
“There were many wonderful actresses, but we had to get it right because she is the center of it. We discussed and analyzed each person to ensure they had the right qualities, embodying ugliness and brokenness while evoking both comedy and gravitas. It was a nerve-wracking role to cast.”
“The age category of talented women was extensive. When Jeannie suggested Jamie Lee Curtis, it just clicked.”
However, during the casting process, Jamie Lee Curtis was busy promoting her film Everything Everywhere All at Once, for which she had won an Academy Award. The team initially approached Michelle Pfeiffer and Melanie Griffith, but they declined, leading them back to their original idea of casting Curtis.
Why Jamie Lee Curtis Joined “The Bear” Season 2
Fortunately, Jamie Lee Curtis was already a “huge fan” of The Bear. Jeanie revealed:
“After the first season, in an interview when she was watching, she mentioned the mother character and said, ‘I’m going to play that role.’ We didn’t know until later. She knew!”
With her enthusiasm for the show, Curtis gladly accepted the offer. The casting directors praised her professionalism and flawless portrayal of a dysfunctional and addictive character. Jeanie remarked:
“She truly understood the dysfunction, addiction, and behavior required for the role. Jamie Lee Curtis arrived on set having done her work, ready to give her all and embrace the raw and ugly aspects of the character.”
It remains to be seen whether Jamie Lee Curtis will return as Donna Berzatto in Season 3. In the Season 2 finale, Donna stands outside The Bear restaurant during its soft opening but is too afraid to enter. Perhaps next season, she will finally get to experience Carmy and Co’s cooking. We eagerly await what is in store.