FX and Hulu’s The bear recently released its second season – a defining moment for a show that became both a critical and a audience darling roughly five minutes after that the first season hit the streaming airwaves last year. A consequence of the immediate enthusiasm for Chicago-based beef becomes evident when you scan the guest list for the show’s second season, which is ridiculously stacked — including two recent Oscar winners, in the form of Olivia Colman and Jamie Lee Curtis. The latter plays the often-mentioned, emotionally erratic protagonist Carmy mother Donna, who is not seen until the season’s big, explosive midpoint flashback“Go fishing.”
Though The bear brought in other major guest stars in its first season—Oliver Platt and Jon Bernthal both appeared in small but pivotal roles—“Fish” is a testimony to how many famous people really like The bear these days, with appearances from Curtis, Bernthal, Bob Odenkirk, John Mulaney and Sarah Paulson. But, according to an interview this week Vulture with the casting director Jeanie Bacharach, she revealed that while Curtis was one of the first people the show’s creators thought of Donna, she wasn’t the first they approached.
In fact, the first person offered the job was Michelle Pfeiffer, who despite being “a big fan of the show and really, really considered it,” ultimately passed out due to scheduling issues. Similarly, Melanie Griffith turned down the role after considering it, prompting series creator Christopher Storer to swallow his nerves and approach Curtis , who was then in the running for her Best Supporting Actress win for Everything, everywhere at once. Luckily, Curtis was already a fan: “I think she said ‘yes’ before she even looked at the scripts, just based on the character description and being allowed to be a part of the show,” Bacharach said.
(Bacharach also tries to shoot down the idea the show deliberately went for big names with these castings – not entirely convincingly – saying, “It wasn’t so much about wanting to go after big names as much as we just knew we needed people who could fill these roles in a significant, meaningful and memorable way.”)
The bearsecond season aired (at once, for one reason or another) back on June 22.