‘The Bear’ Star Gillian Jacobs Says Richie’s Transformation Is ‘Striking’ to Tiff: ‘There’s Still Love There’

By Season 3 of “The Bear,” Richie’s priorities are well in order, even drawing the attention of his ex-wife Tiff (Gillian Jacobs).

The “Community” star, who can be seen in Season 3 episodes “Tomorrow” and “Apologies,” imagines Richie’s post-divorce personal and professional “transformation” — as seen in beloved Season 2 episode “Forks” — might have been “striking” to Tiff as she sees the father of her child in a new light.

“I wonder if there’s a feeling of, ‘Why couldn’t you do that when we were still together? Now you’re finding purpose in your work and taking your job so seriously,'” Jacobs told TheWrap. She jokingly added, “He wears suits now.”

“I wonder if there’s some part of her that’s sitting there thinking, ‘Wow, you’ve really become the person I always hoped you would be, very recently,'” she continued. “But maybe it also took the divorce and the loss for him to get to that point.”

Season 3 gives a face to Tiff’s fiancé, as Josh Hartnett’s Frank has a labored conversation with Ebon Moss-Bachrach’s Richie. Frank apologizes for not telling Richie he would be proposing to Tiff and asks him to RSVP to their wedding. Richie’s impending RSVP is also brought up by Tiff, who urges him to come to the wedding — despite it potentially being a source of pain following their divorce.

While Tiff tells Richie he’s among the few family members she has to lean on, Jacobs didn’t confirm or deny whether she thinks Tiff still has romantic feelings for Richie.

“There’s still love there — she doesn’t hate him,” Jacobs said. “My guess is she just felt like it could not continue as a marriage, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t still love him.”

Below, Jacobs reveals her reaction to Taylor Swift becoming a staple for her on-screen family, what she imagines led to their divorce and her hopes for Season 4.

TheWrap: We were so excited to see you back this season. Did you work with Ebon and Chris on how Tiff and Richie’s relationship might develop more?

Gillian Jacobs: We didn’t have a specific conversation about that, but I felt like we established such a great present-day dynamic between the two of them, even in that one phone call scene and “Forks,” that I felt like I understood where they were at. But she’s now engaged and that’s shifting the post-divorce dynamic that exists between the two of them, and they’re trying to figure it out. And clearly, he was hurt when their daughter said, “Mom says, ‘You’re alone or lonely,'” whatever it is — but then, on the other hand, she really wants him to come to the wedding.

Does Josh and the way he’s taken up the role as Frank match up with what you expected from Season 1? Why do you think he’s someone Tiff gravitated to after Richie?

Josh lived up to all of my expectations and more, and I love that scene between between Ebon and Josh. I think Frank is a very sincere, open-hearted, vulnerable guy, and I think he’s very committed to her and is taking very seriously becoming a stepparent, and that is very appealing to Tiff. He clearly has got a good job — that’s a really nice townhouse that he lives in.

I think, above everything else, it’s probably his open-hearted sincerity — that’s what has drawn her to him. He’s vulnerable, he’s opening his heart to Ebon in that scene, which is a brave thing to do.

We still don’t know the biggest elements or moments that led to Tiff and Richie’s break up. Will we see those eventually, and how have you filled in the puzzle pieces until then?

I don’t know if we’ll ever get to see that on-screen. I think there were big clues in [Season 1 holiday episode] “Fishes” — he’s not being honest with her about what’s going on with the job, he’s keeping things from her. He’s sort of telling her one thing and the truth is another.

And I don’t think that’s good for a relationship, especially when you are about to have a kid, and all the added stress and pressure that come along with that. I feel like I’m speaking out of turn if I haven’t figured it all out with Ebon, but, I feel like I got enough hints that I could see that he wasn’t being honest with her and there was a lack of open communication, and that I’m sure caused some intractable problems between the two of them.

In “Apologies,” Tiff urges Richie to come to her wedding, even if it’s difficult for him, and mentions she sees him as family. How do you understand her feelings towards Richie and why she wants him at the wedding?

She doesn’t really have a relationship with her family, and so when she got divorced, I think she had a lot of fear about she was going to lose. Not just the friendship or emotional relationship that she had with him, but also the larger social world of the Berzatto and the group of friends — that she was going to be excluded and shut out now that they’re divorced. And for her, I think that really is like her family.

She wants him to come so that she can feel secure that they are going to have this family relationship moving forward — that they’ve moved past the initial, you know, hurt and hard period of being newly divorced. She wants to still have him and everybody else in her life as a family, because I think she would feel like her world would get pretty small. She also feels like that that would be an important thing for their daughter, to see her dad at this wedding, and to feel like they’re all still a family.

Will we see the wedding in Season 4? Can we expect it to be another traumatic family event like “Fishes” or will it be more joyous?

I don’t know. I can only hope that, for Tiff’s sake, it’s not as traumatic as “Fishes.” I hope she has a nice wedding — that’s my hope and desire for her. I think she deserves a nice nice wedding.

Has it been filmed?

I’m not going to say anything.

Tiff, Richie and their daughter have a second Taylor Swift needle drop this season. Do you think the Swiftie element has become a tradition for the family?

That song was chosen because that was one that Annie, who plays our daughter, was into and singing while shooting Season 3. It gives even more a feeling of authenticity for the storyline — I love that Frank has it playing in the house too, he’s trying to really get into whatever his stepdaughter is into.

It just feels very real to me, I know so many mothers and daughters that are bonding over Taylor Swift, and going to the concerts, and playing the music, and having that shared love. I can’t remember that as a kid, where there was an artist that my parents and I were both into in that same way, that was like putting out new music — she’s very unique in that way, and you see that happening with families. I think it’s so cool that that’s part of the show. Who’s to know, but I love that runner throughout the seasons.

What can you tease for Season 4?

Once again, incredible, amazing. I’m so excited and I can’t believe I have to wait a year to see it. But I probably can’t say anything beyond that.

The latest on the “Community” movie was that Dan Harmon mentioned there’s been some delays, but the engine is still moving and he’s working on final passes of the script. When do you expect production will kick off?

I didn’t even know there had been that update, so you know more than I do. I’m being completely honest and genuine with you, I have no idea. But when they give me a start date, I will be there.

Have you read a script yet?

Yes, but not the one he’s talking about.

We got to see more of Tiff than we had in “Fishes,” which is arguably one of the most stressful episodes of “The Bear” yet. What was that experience like?

It was a truly incredible experience. One of my favorite shooting experiences of my career. I can’t say enough good things about it, between the amazing writing the incredible direction, the cast, just the environment of being on that set and everybody talking; what an amazing mix of people, and some people I knew and some people I’d never met before.

It was really cool seeing Bob Odenkirk, John Mulaney and Abby [Elloitt] talk about “SNL.” And I’m such a Jamie Lee Curtis fan, and I was trying not to gush, but I did tell her that “A Fish Called Wanda” was a film I saw I don’t even know how many times as a child. Chris Witaske — he and I were on the show “Love” together, and at that dinner table, he and I are kind of two people that aren’t screaming. And I think there were times where he and I just like looked at each other. It’s both our characters looking at each other and also me being like, “Oh, my God, Chris, look where we are now.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

All episodes of “The Bear” are now streaming on Hulu.

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