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June 28, 2024

Photo of Bradley Cooper in 'Burnt' appears on 'The Bear' Season 3 finale, but why? (No spoilers)

The actor's picture is shown during a montage of real-life prominent chefs and restaurateurs, leaving fans to speculating.

TV Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper The Bear Dan MacMedan/USA TODAY

A photo of Bradley Cooper in his 2015 film 'Burnt' appears in the Season 3 finale of 'The Bear,' but it's unclear why. Above, Cooper appears at the 96th Academy Awards in March 2024.

Loyal viewers of "The Bear" are accustomed to unexpected celebrity guest stars and cameos, but a surprise pseudo-appearance from actor Bradley Cooper confused many.

Season 3 was released, in full, Wednesday on Hulu. In a scene of the season finale, protagonist Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) looks at a collection of newspaper clippings and photos of real-life chefs and restaurant owners. Among the images is one Jenkintown native Cooper from his 2015 film "Burnt" — and beyond that blink-and-you-miss-it moment we won't spoil any other details about how the season ends.

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It happens as Weezer's "In the Garage" plays. Cooper's photo appears after a shot of chef Rosio Sanchez and before photos of pastry chef Malcolm Livingston II and restaurateur Will Guidara. With no additional context, fans of "The Bear" are left with several questions.

It's easy to forget about "Burnt," an ill-received film starring Cooper as a fictional two-star Michelin chef named Adam Jones. In the movie, Jones attempts a comeback after his temperamental behavior and substance abuse placed his career on hold. 

Though "Burnt" has a similar setting as "The Bear" and their themes overlap, the movie has fallen into obscurity in the decade since its release.

So what does this visual reference to the film mean for "The Bear?" Perhaps "Burnt" is in the same fictional universe as Carmy and his crew.

Olivia Colman, John Mulaney and Jamie Lee Curtis are among the celebrities who have made guest appearances in "The Bear."  Could the photo cameo be setting up a future appearance by Cooper as a new character.

Maybe the fictional staff of Ever really enjoyed "Burnt," or maybe the photo is just an inside joke among the writers and producers of "The Bear." Who knows? Representatives for FX, which produces the show, did not respond to a request for comment.

Whatever the case, this brief appearance in the highly acclaimed show is par the course for Cooper, who made sudden cameos in last year's "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" and on "Abbott Elementary." And in December, Cooper made an appearance in New York City as a line cook on a food truck, making and selling cheesesteaks.