LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: Abby Elliott attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at ...
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Abby Elliot Says The Bear Cast Is “Like A Family”

The actress, who plays Sugar Berzatto in the hit FX series, was 33 weeks pregnant when filming Season 2 wrapped.

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Many people who’ve been pregnant will tell you it’s those last few weeks that are the most annoying, and when I spoke to Abby Elliott last month, The Bear actress was in the thick of it. “If I start hacking away, it’s just a lingering chest cold,” she says over the phone. “It’s been pretty easy the whole pregnancy, up until the last couple of weeks. I think it’s because this baby is sucking my immunity out of me right now.” Fortunately she wouldn’t have long to wait: William Joseph Lunney Kennedy IV, Elliott’s second child with husband Bill Kennedy, was born on June 9. (It’s a big name for a little guy, but the family calls him “Billy.”)

Though this is her second baby, there were plenty of “firsts” during this pregnancy. Her daughter, Edith, was born at the height of the pandemic; Elliott didn’t even announce the news until about a month before giving birth. But this time around, Elliott was showing earlier, and the success of The Bear meant attending a slew of awards ceremonies at the beginning of the year.

“There was no hiding it, and it felt nice,” she recalls. “It felt like, ‘I have a little buddy along for this ride.’ It eased the pressure in a weird way, because it just reminded me that I have a friend, that I have a little partner in this.”

There was a kind of comedy in being visibly pregnant in the public eye — something she really didn’t get to experience with Edith. I ask her about frequent headlines indicating that she was “showing off her bump” by simply appearing on a red carpet.

“‘Shows off’ is just the silliest thing ever. You’re not showing off, you’re just there. You’re merely existing, and you’re pregnant,” she says with a laugh… but not without self awareness. “When I read that other people were pregnant, I was sending to my friends, like ‘Look! Kaley Cuoco is showing off her baby.’ I’m guilty of it, too. It’s such a funny phrase.”

She also “showed off” her bump while filming the second season of The Bear. When the season wrapped, she was 33 weeks pregnant. (Yes, we asked and no, she wouldn’t give any hints about whether her character, Sugar Berzatto, would also be pregnant in the new season.) Fortunately, Elliot says she was surrounded by support and understanding the entire time.

“It’s almost like camp, because we’re on location in Chicago and we’re in our own little bubble. We’re all staying at the same place. We’re all living the same way, talking about restaurants in Chicago constantly. I think it’s just the being on location aspect that has brought us all together. The show’s like a family, so I felt safe, and taken care of.”

For Elliott, it’s not the first time she’s associated the industry with family. Her sister, Bridey, is a multi-hyphenate who’s appeared in Silicon Valley and Battle of the Sexes and the two regularly collaborate. (“We have many ideas that we have bounced around throughout the years, and sold things together. To get something on the air is definitely a goal of mine.”) Her mother, Paula Niedert Elliott, is an actor and talent coordinator. Her dad, Chris, is known for comedies like Cabin Boy, Scary Movie 2, Schitt’s Creek, and, like Abby, Saturday Night Live. He was especially excited about the idea of having a grandson.

Elliott and her family at the premiere of her sister’s 2018 film Clara’s Ghost starring their mother, Paula Niedert Elliott.Ernesto Distefano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“My dad’s already looking at vintage GI Joe’s, and boy toys for him,” she says, noting that it’ll be interesting to have a boy in the mix. “I grew up around so many women — it was just my sister and I, and I had a lot of girl cousins. I’m excited to have a different energy. My daughter is very thoughtful. I’ve never worried about her falling off furniture, so I’m excited to see how a boy's different in that way. Or maybe he won’t be! Who knows?”

Elliot says that the benefits of a family have extended beyond her home and helped put her career into perspective. “I think in my 20s, I really let every audition that I didn’t book get to me. If I was testing for a pilot, and it didn’t work out, I took it so hard, and I put so much pressure on myself to achieve certain things by a certain timeline,” she shares.

Certainly, when your first “real” job at 21 is SNL cast member doesn’t help that sense of high-stakes urgency. (The first second-generation cast member at that, you know, for added pressure.) “It was so fast-paced, and I felt like, ‘This is how it is. This is how it has to be all the time. I can never take time off, and it’s go, go, go every week.’”

But having a family forces you to slow down, rearrange priorities, and not say “yes” to every offer that comes your way: you wait for the projects that really speak to you, that have something special about them you want to explore. “I still have that ambition inside of me,” Elliot says, “but for the first time in my life, I’ve been able to balance my energy in a way where the work wasn’t dictating my emotions.”

Elliott as Natalie “Sugar” Berzatto in The Bear.Hulu

With Season 2 of The Bear wrapped, premiering June 22 on Hulu, and the Writer’s Guild of America strike halting pretty much every project in Hollywood for the time being, this could be a quiet time for the actress. (Please applaud me for not making a hibernation joke here.) But with two young children to care for, things are just as busy, but in a different way. “I’m in bed by 8 o’clock these days,” Elliot confesses. “My husband and I are going out on a date night tonight, at 5:30, and we’re like, ‘Great, we’ll be back to put our daughter to bed.’”

We haven’t spoken to the actress since she gave birth, and we can’t imagine that adding another child into the mix has made her less busy or less prone to early bedtimes. But when we spoke she had a prediction about life with a son that we can only imagine has, indeed come to fruition: “I have a feeling I'm going to be obsessed with him.”

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