How ‘The Bear’ Helped Abby Elliott Leave SNL Pressure Behind

Onebby Elliott was trying for a role like Sugar in a show like Bear. Although the four seasons are almost successful on Saturday night live– she’s still the youngest woman ever hired and the only second-generation actress, following in the footsteps of her father, Chris Elliott, – the comedian and actress has struggled to find a place her stand in Hollywood for 10 years since she was cut from the show.

In this episode of Last Laugh PodcastElliott opens about Bearviewers’ intense connection with SNL too young – which she says she’s still working on in therapy. She also revealed the Chicago-born actress she’d like to see play Carmy and Sugar’s mother in Season 2 of Bearand confirm that Jon Bernthal is indeed the charismatic man.

“I think people really need this show right now,” Elliott said of Bearbecame a unlikely phenomenon in one TV landscape is too crowded. “It was really exciting to be a part of something that moved so many people,” she added, noting that it was her first time being “part of a project where everyone who actually responded in this way.”

When I asked if she was waiting for an opportunity like this, Elliott replied, “Yes,” adding that it was also her first job after giving birth to her daughter in 2020. “I was in this vulnerable situation. status has her in COVID, so I just really wanted to do something real and grounded. “

Since her character, Sugar, mostly exists outside of the restaurant at the center of the show, Elliott said she “of course” experienced FOMO about some of the more thrilling scenes at The Beef. “Until I saw the pilot, I didn’t fully understand what was going on there,” she said of the chaotic kitchen scene. “Which I think is good, because Sugar really doesn’t understand. This is this damn beef restaurant that killed her brother. And I think in the last episode, when we all had dinner together as a family, it was the first moment of, ‘OK, I see what you’re trying to do.’

In that episode, Sugar is at the dinner table for a family meal, but it’s unclear if her brother informed her of the — spoiled warning! —How much cash they had just found sealed in cans of mashed tomatoes. “I think he still hasn’t opened up to her about it,” she said, “in the style of Carmy.”

In a way, the first season of Bear served as an extended prologue to Season 2. It wasn’t until the final moments of the finale that we learned the meaning behind the show’s title and realized how much the movie actually has. much potential. Among the characters mentioned but never seen in the first season are Carmy and Sugar’s mother—and Elliott knows exactly who will play her.

While they were filming in Chicago, Elliott and Chris Witaske, the hilarious actor who played Pete, Sugar’s husband, wandered into becoming actresses (and formerly SNL actor) Joan Cusack’s famous store in the north of the city.

Elliott really had an impression of Cusack in her SNL audition and then the show, and decided to approach her shyly. “She was living in her own world,” she said of Cusack. “She really doesn’t want to be an actress anymore, but I think she plays my mother — is that cool?”

Years before every comedian would post videos of celebrity impressions on Instagram and TikTok, Elliott has been recording videos of himself as Angelina Jolie, Kirsten Dunst or any other star since the mid-2000s. By that time, she had dropped out of college and moved across the country to LA to enter the world of comedy, and began taking improv classes at The Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade, two of them. main source of talent for SNL.

“I just did it for fun and then I said, ‘Maybe this could be something,’” Elliot recalls. She decided to send in a tape with every impression she could think of, and then got a call to audition directly for Lorne Michaels and the rest. SNL team in New York. She flew back to LA that night after her audition, and when she landed, her phone blew up to people who already knew she’d be offered a gig.

“I thought it was announced the next day, but Lorne actually called my dad to ask for permission,” she revealed. “I think he said things like, ‘I know she’s young, we’re going to hone her talent.’ And my dad said, “Okay… yeah, that’s great.”

Chris Elliott famously had a bad experience during his one-year cast, this comes a decade after he turned down the chance to join SNL so that he can stay Late Night with David Letterman. When I spoke to him for The Daily Beast a few years ago, he confirmed that he only took the gig the second time it was offered because he was “desperate” for a job and only later realized it was “wrong thing”. wrong for me.”

“I knew he was in a different place in his career when he went to SNL,” Elliott said of her father. “He had his own sitcom and blockbuster movie. So he has a little more personality and a family name. And that’s just a very different thing for me. This is really the only chance I have. It doesn’t pay much, but… yes, I have to take it. I was 21 years old. I mean, in many ways, that was my college experience. “

I thought I was really tough and could get through it all. And now I’m dealing with it in therapy, but it’s like this, can’t I just take an extra week to not be in the sketches?

Elliott ended up staying on the show for about four years, starting in the fall of 2008, right after Tina Fey’s epic performance as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler walked away victorious. “It was difficult, it was really difficult,” she said. “I thought I was really tough and could get through it all. And now I’m dealing with it in therapy, but it’s like this, can’t I just take an extra week to not be in the sketches? I think now, having a family, I’ve learned to separate my emotions from some things, but back then I didn’t know what was better. So I really got over it and really put pressure on myself. “

Elliott says she’s so confident on the air because she “must be”, but backstage she “can’t handle it”. She sleeps little, drinks too much, and is constantly worried that other writers and actors think she’s only there for her dad. “It was hard,” she admitted. “Things that I tried to ignore.”

During her time on the show, her father would occasionally help her draw the sketches she was writing. Later, when she took those sketches to other writers at the show and they would get them out of hand, she couldn’t help but exclaim, “But my dad wrote this!”

While Elliott said she was “ready” to leave the show after four seasons, it wasn’t her decision.

“My characters, for whatever reason, just never worked out and I don’t think anyone really trusted me to play a big character on the show,” she said. When she learned she was cut from the cast a few weeks before the premiere of Season 38, Elliott said, “I think I just ate pizza and drank alcohol in bed for a week and didn’t wake up. And then I went to Italy and ate more pizza.”

The show’s final episode, which she didn’t know at the time – ended with a scene with Kristen Wiig send feelings, complete with the Mick Jagger promenade and the Lorne Michaels slow dance. “I love Kristen, she’s amazing, but that kind of sums up my time there — her trip and my last episode,” Elliott laughs. “She deserves it and she was amazing on that show and a friend of mine, so it’s not like I’m jealous. But it’s like, OK, I’m definitely the underdog here. And that’s okay. I found a way to feel comfortable with that after the fact.”

And yet, when I wonder if her daughter might be the third generation of Elliotts to join SNL minted for a few decades, she quickly replied, “Oops, I hope not, for her sake.”

Listen to the episode now and subscribe to ‘The Last Laugh’ above Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitchers, Amazon Musicor wherever you get your podcast and be the first to hear new episodes when they’re released every Tuesday.

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