• Interviews

Lionel Boyce Returns with “The Bear”

The highly anticipated Season Two of the hit series The Bear is finally upon us. For those unversed in the world of this unique comedy-drama, the story follows young chef Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), from the world of fine dining, who returns to his hometown of Chicago to take over the family sandwich business after a family tragedy. Lionel Boyce, who plays Marcus, one of Carmy’s trusted kitchen staff, spoke to us on the phone about what’s it like to be in a hit show and what’s in store for the future. 

Now that Season Two is here, how nervous or excited are you? You’re following up on such an enormous success.

I’m both, actually. I’m very nervous. We filmed Season One in a vacuum where no one cared and there were no expectations. If the show didn’t connect with people, that would have been the worst-case scenario. But now everyone has expectations of what they want to see or what they think it will be. Some may like it, some may not, but everyone will have an opinion now. So that makes me nervous.

And on the upside…

I’m excited because I trust Chris [creator Christopher Storer].  He’s extremely smart and has great instincts and taste. I was very excited when I read the scripts for where the show goes and what we’re going to see for Season Two.  He’s not trying to replicate something that you can’t replicate. You can’t control how people reacted to season one, so he’s not chasing that.

How surprised were you at the success of Season One?  It seemed to have come out from nowhere and it was on everyone’s must-see lists.

I was extremely shocked only because when we were making season one, we all kind of felt like, “Well, this is good but I don’t think anybody will watch it.”


Because there are so many things you feel good about and you just know that you can’t control that part of it. And at the end of Season One we were all saying goodbyes. We were, like, “Well, this was a great time. I enjoyed all of you guys. I guess I’ll see you around in life.” And then it came out quickly and was an instant success.  We were like, “Whoa!” Memes started popping up and kept growing through the summer. We were just, like, “This is insane!” I’ve never personally been a part of anything that’s been a huge success.  I’m used to doing things on Adult Swim, where ten people watch it. Your mom is telling you to get a real job.

What do your parents think now? Do they acknowledge that you have a real job?

Yeah, they do! They’re excited. Parents love to brag but not tell you. They’re now saying, “I was at the grocery store and just randomly someone came out of nowhere and said that they love you on the show.” I’m like, “That’s not how the conversation went. You clearly struck up a conversation and mentioned my name.”  (laughs)

I noticed you on the red carpet at the Golden Globes earlier this year.  What was that experience like?

That was crazy because it’s a big thing. You don’t realize what that’s like until you’re there. It’s this long pathway of a bunch of people with cameras and all this stuff. It’s this intimidating machine. It’s funny because I had the thought while I was there, “This is the thing that people dream of going to and I’m just here in this suit and this hat.”


The hat looked good, by the way.

Oh, thank you.  If you would’ve said to me five years ago “You’ll be here wearing this suit and this hat right now,” I would’ve laughed.  I would have said, “You’re out of your mind!” It was a reminder that “Man, you really don’t know where life will take you.”

And inside the ballroom itself?

It was insane. It’s a room full of all these people that you’ve grown up to love and admire, and it’s like you’re all in a lunch cafeteria room, but the nicest version of that. They’re just sitting here eating like normal humans, right? The table next to me was Donald Glover eating (laughs). 

To what do you attribute the success of the show?

I think it’s the specificity and the honesty. People don’t often make things that are very specific. You have an idea of something and you’re like, “This feels very niche,” and then dilute it or try to make it a little broader.  But Chris and the team focused in on making this feel as honest and real as possible; and brought in people from the chef world who would say “You wouldn’t stand like this. No one in a real kitchen stands and moves like that.” It’s those little specific details that rang true.

But it’s also more than just an authentic portrayal of how a professional kitchen runs…

Yes. The show has a lot of heart, because it’s about a family.  It’s about the workplace as family as well as home. When you’re not home, you’re working and leaning on one another and supporting one another in the way that family does.

Did you know much about this world?

No. I had never worked in the kitchen and didn’t know anything at all.

What about now? I imagine you must have learned a thing or two about cooking.

Yeah, I got to learn a lot about cooking, especially baking. I got to work at a bakery in Copenhagen before we shot Season One. For two weeks, I learned the process of bread making. I would try to do things at home and failed horribly. It’s a science. It’s very meticulous in what you have to do. In prep for season two, I worked with Courtney Storer (Courtney is a chef, the sister of the show’s creator, as well as a producer on the show).  I would go to her house, and we had fun.  Honestly, it just made my dream come true because I love desserts. So, we were making things that I would want to eat, and then I got to take it home.  She’s doing the heavy lifting and I’m just pretending I know what I’m doing. I get to look like the greatest person ever.

Can you tell me what audiences can expect in Season Two?

You’re watching how hard it is to open a restaurant and I think that’s what’s interesting because in the same way we learned about what it’s like to be inside a kitchen, you will learn about what it takes to build a restaurant from the ground up.

I thought it was one of the best finales I’ve ever seen.

Yeah.  That’s something I remember when I was reading the script.  I was like, “Wow, that’s so smart.” Something that’s hidden in plain sight right from the beginning. And I think this season is just as great if not better.