Jeremy Allen White, best known for playing Philip “Lip” Gallagher on the Showtime series “Shameless” for 11 seasons, struggled with how to feel when the hit series ended. While this role was a breakthrough for White, saying goodbye to that beloved character didn’t prove to be an easy transition for the actor, 31, who said it left him in an “upsetting head space.”
White was Unsure About how to Feel When the Show was Ending
White played the same character in 134 episodes over a span of 11 seasons in 10 years. When it all ended, feeling sad seemed inevitable. “I love ‘Shameless’ so much. I love everybody that was a part of it, and the experience was incredible,” White told GQ magazine. “But I’m not sure if shows are meant to go that long.” While relieved, he was also unsure of how he should be feeling. “There was a period where I stopped feeling like an actor and started feeling like I was just here to do this show. It was an upsetting head space to be in,” he explained. “When it was going to end, I was questioning: Maybe I do just exist on this show. What else is there? Am I an actor? I was definitely having a lot of doubt when I was finishing ‘Shameless.'”
Transitioning from Lip to Carmy
All the self-doubt White was feeling when “Shameless” ended was what brought him to his newest role of Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto on FX’s new series, “The Bear.” White plays the role of a chef who takes over his family’s Chicago restaurant after his brother’s suicide. “I think that [self-doubt] was something Carmy was really struggling with, too. We kind of found each other at a similar place,” he explained. “He knew he’s really gifted at this thing, but he could be painfully insecure about his abilities as well. I was feeling a little insecure at the end, too.”
Going from playing a talented kid in a dysfunctional Chicago setting on “Shameless” to a similar role in a familiar setting on “The Bear” didn’t deter the actor from taking on the new project. “I think I was too concerned with what other people might think, [but] I also knew that if I said no to this, that whoever ended up doing it, I would hate them forever,” he said. “So there was some spiteful stuff going on, too.”
While White had a limited knowledge of the culinary world, he was interested enough in it to learn more. And the role of a struggling character pulled him in. “There was a period where I thought I’d take a break from series work to keep my time more open. But I feel in love with Carmy,” he said. “He has been running away from his upbringing and you meet him when the most traumatic thing has just happened. He’s really struggling and he’s still wrapped up in his identity as a chef and he’s so determined to be successful. So everything seems life or death to him all the time.”
All episodes of “The Bear” are currently streaming on Hulu, and White is hoping there will be a season two in the future. “To me, the whole first season feels almost like a prelude to what the show actually is,” he explained.