Photo credit: Ben Cope Styling: Douglas Vanlaningham Grooming: Kiki Heitkotter
When Steven Krueger hops onto Zoom in early February, he’s as excited as ever to be back in Los Angeles. The actor, who plays assistant soccer coach Ben Scott, has just returned from “40 degrees and raining constantly” Vancouver, Canada for the season 2 shoot of Showtime’s Yellowjackets.
“It really wasn't bad. The worst part was like the darkness,” he admits to Los Angeles Confidential. “It got dark at like 4 o'clock and then you wake up in the morning and the sun wouldn't be up until 8:30.”
Just in time for our own forthcoming longer and warmer days,the highly anticipated second season of Yellowjackets returns on March 24 for Showtime subscribers and will then be broadcast March 26 on the Showtime channel. It picks up two months after the season finale’s fatal events. And with winter having arrived, the girls are tasked with even more impossible decisions to survive.
However, in real life, the cast didn’t really have to actually endure the cold Canadian winter for their performances. Most of the wilderness and cabin scenes, as Krueger explains, were shot on a soundstage.
“We did spend some time back in the woods and in different locations than we were in the first season trekking through,” he adds. “It's absolutely beautiful. I think that the way the season was shot, it looks incredible on camera.”
And despite the winter weather, the six-month shoot for the second season was “psychologically easier” than the first given the easing of COVID restrictions.
“It was kind of like life imitating art,” he reflects. “We were trapped up there. The border was closed, so once we got up there, you really couldn't leave until I think it opened at the very end of production of our first season…So we were all just trapped up there together without any of our close friends or family or significant others or anything like that. And we kind of only had each other, which was great in a way, especially for season 1 because it forced us to bond and become this cohesive group and I think that ended up showing on screen.”
Read more below from Krueger about what to expect from season 2 of Yellowjackets.
Going into filming season 2, did you feel any pressure to live up to the success of the first season?
An incredible amount of pressure. I think that that was really conscious and on everybody's minds from day one. We knew that we were coming off a super successful first season both with critics and the audience, which is rare to have both. There was that constant thought in the back of our mind that we have to not only meet expectations, but exceed them. The old trope in television is if season two is just a replication of season one, even if it was great, then it's a failure. I remember talking to our showrunners a month before we went into production last summer and I asked them, “What is this season going to be like?” And I remember very distinctly they said, “We're doubling down on everything.” And essentially what they were talking about was we had this reputation for being this wild crazy, unique, different show. And they really leaned into that in season two, but I think they did a great job of striking that balance between pushing the envelope just far enough past season one where it's not just a repeat of what you saw in season one. We definitely go further, but they didn't go crazy. They didn't jump the shark. I think that they did a really good job of developing the story and rooting everything in the characters and the plot and not just being insane for the sake of being insane and having that shock value in the show. I'm really interested to see what people think about it. I think it's a fantastic season. I think people are actually going to really love it. Hopefully we did our jobs in living up to it and exceeding what we created in season 1.
Why do you think Yellowjackets struck a chord with, as you said, both the critics and general audiences?
I think it's really simple actually. I thought about this a lot in season 1 because, to be totally honest with you, I'm not sure that any of us knew that the show was going to be so well received. In season 1, I think we were confident in what we had shot, but with a show like this, you never really know how it's gonna go over. And so I think we were all very nervous, like, “Are people going to respond to this? Are they going to like this? Or is this just too out there for them?” And what I realized very quickly was— I was reading some of the critics reviews and seeing the audience response to it— it's so unique and I think that we are so saturated right now, especially in television, with reboots and remakes and spinoffs and all those things, which can be great and there's a lot of really good ones out there. We're so used to seeing the same things just repeated over and over again that when something completely new and fresh and different comes along, and it works and it's done in a really thoughtful, creative way, people just eat that up and I think that our show really found that audience that was craving that. I've even had several people say, “Is this based on something? Is it based on a true story? It seems like it's a real story.” And I say, “No, it's not. This is something that our creators just thought up in their heads.” It has similarities to a couple of true stories out there, like the rugby team back in South America in the ‘70s [that crashed in The Andes]. But I think that's the simple explanation. It's just different. It's original, it's new, it's creative and people are dying for that stuff right now.
It'd be nice if more studios and networks knew that.
You're preaching to the choir. I totally agree. And it's tough as an artist to say that because I know that there's so much that goes into those decisions. And I know from a profitability standpoint, studios and networks are, of course, always nervous to try something new because when they have built in audiences with existing IP, it just makes it that much easier to market and find an audience. But, hey, I'm with you. I wish that they would take more risks because I really do think people are craving that.
Do you have a favorite episode from season 2?
I think I have a favorite Ben Scott episode that comes in the second half of the season that's a really just interesting dynamic episode for Ben Scott. And we get into a little bit more of Ben Scott's personal life, which I think is amazing. They've already released the announcement that they cast Francois Arnaud as my partner. And I won't give away too much context about how we see him and all that stuff, but we get into a lot of Ben Scott's personal life, which is so fun. And then I have a favorite episode that I think is going to turn out to be my favorite episode that just involves essentially all of us together, surrounding one very specific event where we're all in the cabin. It's a very high-stress, just high-stakes event. It's a lot, but I think it's gonna be fantastic.
I think people are expecting certain things, right? People are expecting the story to go certain places and I think that we do a really good job of meeting those expectations as far as developing the story and hitting all those plot points, but they happen in ways that I don't think people are expecting.
Do you plan to watch the new season as it comes to witness the excitement in real time?
Absolutely. To be honest with you, as an actor, I hate watching my own work. It's just a thing with me. The shows and the projects that I'm in, I'm always really weird about watching them because my expectations are so high and I obviously want them to be so good. And the second I see something where I'm like, “Oh, I didn't love that.” It's just like it's soul crushing. But I have to admit, this is one of the first projects I've been in where I'm eager to watch the show and see how it turned out and see, “Oh my gosh, they kept that take and they kept that little moment that wasn't scripted.” And of course, we don't get to see the adult side. It's almost like we're shooting two separate shows. So we read the scripts, of course, but we never get to see what they're doing, what they're shooting, all of that stuff. So that's almost like watching an entirely separate show and it's exhilarating. So yes, I'm very excited to watch it as it comes out with everybody else.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Ben Cope