Jeremy Allen White Reacts To His First Emmy Nomination For The Bear & Says Award Shows Still Make Him A Nervous Wreck

Jeremy Allen White just scored his first Emmy nomination for playing chef Carmy Berzatto on FX’s The Bear, but most Chicagoans still recognize him as heartbreaker Lip Gallagher from Shameless.

“When I walk around Chicago, when I’m filming The Bear, if I get stopped on the street…seven out of the 10 times, it’ll be for Shameless. It’s pretty wild,” he said, reflecting on his breakout role. “I’ve been on TV for a really long time, which is a crazy thing to say. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way…I feel like there were a lot of really wonderful performances on Shameless that weren’t recognized, and I feel so lucky to be on a show now that connects with people in this way.”

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He isn’t sure what, exactly, clicked with The Bear to prompt its meteoric rise to critical and audience acclaim, but he can’t deny “it’s made space in the industry in a way that Shameless didn’t. I’ve got all of these writers and directors and actors [reaching out] that I just love so much that really enjoy The Bear that have never seen Shameless. That’s just a real gift that this one caught the eye of people that I admire so much.”

In some ways, the series aren’t all that different. It seems that White has a penchant for playing deeply flawed characters who lead incredibly chaotic lives. And, he contends, he gravitates toward complex stories about family.

“I think it’s just fun. The higher the stakes, the more fun for me to play,” he said. “I also think, just in great storytelling, I think family is always at the center. That can be blood family or found family, but I think family is just such a core component for drama and storytelling. Shameless is about this blood family, and how they stay connected, how they stay strong. The Bear is about blood family and the trauma of family, but then also about found family and the family that you can build in your life.”

Including White’s nod for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, The Bear managed to cook up 13 nominations for its first season on Wednesday. By the afternoon, White had connected with much of the cast and crew to relish in the moment, which consisted of a lot of texts in the group chat, Instagram messages, a chat with creator Chris Storer and a FaceTime with co-star Ayo Edebiri (who was also nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series).

Funnily enough, White also caught up with fellow nominee and co-star Ebon Moss-Bachrach (who also spoke with Deadline about his nomination), just before the announcement. “I just hadn’t spoken to him in a while. So I called him really early in the morning before the nominations came out,” White said.

Despite the awards he’s already won for The Bear, White isn’t sure what he’ll say if he’s handed the trophy come Emmy day.

“I’m a nervous wreck at the [award shows] that I’ve been to for The Bear in the last year, just being around so many people that I admire so much. I don’t want to sound like an asshole, but I’ve been very lucky to win a couple of awards. But man, I swear when they announce my name, my instinct is first like, ‘Oh, sh*t. Now I have to go and talk in front of all these people that I love, and I hope I don’t sound like an idiot,’” he said. “So I’m hopeful that by September maybe I’ll be comfortable enough around these people and not be such a nervous wreck and be able to enjoy the night a little bit more.”

While White is celebrating this recognition, he also acknowledges the “bittersweet” nature of the day. Emmy nominations come as SAG-AFTRA is reaching the final hours of contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The current contract expires at midnight PT and, if the parties don’t reach a deal, the actors guild will go on strike.

“I’m in a very privileged position where I’ve been on television for the last 12 years, and I don’t have to work for the rest of the year and I’ll be okay. But this industry is massive,” he said. “If the content slows down, and we’re not making stuff, so many people are out of work. I don’t know. I’m not very well informed, but it seems so simple to me. We need to pay these people. This is a massive industry. It makes a lot of money, and that wealth should be shared.”

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