Bustle Exclusive

On The Bear, It’s Six Degrees Of Gillian Jacobs

The actor opens up about her on- and off-screen roles on the Emmy-winning show.

Gillian Jacobs On 'The Bear,' Richie & Tiff, & Mimi-Rose From 'Girls'
Ryan Pfluger

By this point in The Bear’s run, the series is known for both its aspirational culinary creations and its coterie of guest stars. One person, Gillian Jacobs, has only made a handful of appearances as Richie’s ex-wife and co-parent, Tiffany, but if there’s a red-string map of The Bear actors and their connections to each other, you’ll find Jacobs near the center.

Both Joel McHale and Molly Gordon (who play Carmy’s ex-boss and love interest, respectively) have nodded to Jacobs as their introduction to the show’s creator, Christopher Storer, who’s her real-life partner. Not that Jacobs, 41, will take any credit, of course. “I’m happy for any small part I could play, but obviously it’s their talent first and foremost,” she tells Bustle over Zoom.

The connections don’t stop there. The Community alum appeared on Girls at the same time as Ebon Moss-Bachrach, who plays Richie, and has performed onstage with Liza Colón-Zayas and David Zayas, the real-life couple who portray Tina and David.

These crisscrossing connections are a handy stand-in for Jacobs’ role on the show. Unlike most of The Bear characters, Tiff doesn’t work at the titular restaurant, but you get the sense that she’s a grounding social outlet between its denizens and the outside world. Her time on camera is a brief, oft-needed break from the kitchen’s chaos.


In Season 3, viewers get a closer look at Tiff’s personal life as she plans a wedding to her new partner, Frank (Josh Hartnett), for which she personally requests Richie’s attendance. The series has yet to reveal why the exes broke up, but Jacobs has theories.

“It’s obvious that Richie has gone through a really hard time in the last couple of years, and so I can only imagine that placed a lot of strain on their [relationship],” Jacobs says, speculating that his career struggles might have played a role. “He had a very intense relationship with Michael, and that really dominated his life in a lot of ways. And I wonder if she felt second to that at some point.”

Below, she opens up about making The Bear, the fate of her Girls character, and a role she’s excited about next.

Tommaso Boddi/FilmMagic/Getty Images

I read that you first voiced this part in Season 1 as a favor to your partner, Chris. Is that how your role got started?

Yes, I was in France shooting Transatlantic, and [The Bear] was in post-production on Season 1. Chris and Josh Senior, who’s one of the producers on the show, were like, Will you just record really fast a voicemail for Richie’s ex-wife? I sent them four different versions, never thinking it would be more than that. So in Season 2, it was so exciting when I actually got to appear on the show. I never imagined all of this.

Is there an element of Tiff’s character we haven’t seen on screen yet — or maybe a part of her story you imagine in your portrayal?

In my mind, she’s very good friends with Sugar. I love Abby [Elliot]. We were in this indie movie called Life Partners years ago, so I feel that ease and connection [with her]. We have a tiny moment in “Fishes” in the kitchen where I’m leaving, she comes in. She’s like, You good? I’m like, No. That, to me, is emblematic of a great friendship.


Josh Hartnett plays Tiff’s fiancé this season. Did you spend time together behind the scenes, if not on screen?

Not a ton. But Josh is also somebody that I have wanted to work with for a long time, and we had a near-miss doing a movie together years ago, so that has an added layer of poignancy. I’m so glad he’s part of the show. I love that scene with him and Richie — Ebon just looks trapped in that entryway up against the wall, and Josh is being so nice to him. It’s so incredibly uncomfortable.

Obviously, I’m thinking about their wedding. Is there anything you can tease about Season 4?

I feel like I can’t say anything, but I relish every moment I get to be on the show and part of this cast. It’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

There’s a Girls resurgence happening right now. Do you have a theory about where Mimi-Rose might be today?

She probably would have gotten really into NFTs at some point. She’s probably made a hologram of herself, trying to get some residency to do performance art at Coachella or something. She wants to take it to as large a stage as possible. I don’t know — it’s fun to think about!


Your roles run the gamut from long-running characters to these shorter spots. What are you excited about coming up?

I’ve been guest-reporting episodes of this podcast called 99% Invisible. The first one I did was about the history of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the second was the history of this poison control sticker called Mr. Yuk. I have another one coming out this summer — so I’ve been dabbling in being an amateur journalist. I find it so engaging.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.