Warren Kole Talks Jeff & Shauna's Marriage & 'Confident' Yellowjackets Season 2Whitney Evans at .
Warren Kole has appeared in some of the hottest television shows in recent years.
From The Following to Shades of Blue and Why Women Kill, Warren has amassed a host of credits on various hits and currently stars in one of the most popular series on television, Yellowjackets. And he's certainly not slowing down.
Ahead of Yellowjackets Season 2, TV Fanatic was able to jump on a call with the delightful and engaging star, who was incredibly sincere and forthright, as we talked about everything from the new season to Jeff and Shauna's history and some of his travels across the United States.
This chat was a lot of fun, so dig in and enjoy!
It's a pleasure to speak with you. I have enjoyed many of your roles over the years, so it's good to get a chance to talk with you and talk about Yellowjackets.
When we jump into season two and back into that world, where will we see Jeff? What has he been up to?
Okay, you know what? We left off at me and Shauna, where they found a new way to see each other. They were seeing more eye-to-eye. They aired out their secrets, and I think he's going to have a fragile optimism about the future because of that.
He's going to try and extract the positives out of those events and kind of fiercely deny all the painful truths of that because that's sort of his character.
But he's probably really emasculated that his wife is unsatisfied by him, and maybe even more disturbingly, he's terrified that the wild, dangerous, deadly Shauna that he'd only read about in her journal may be reconstituting real time in front of him.
So the question may be, is he going to run away from that? How's he going to handle that? Or, for better or worse, is he going to try?
You just touched on this, but the relationship between Shauna and Jeff is very complex, and they have so much history. And I thought it was interesting in the finale when Jeff told her, "I think we're going to be okay." So heading into the season, how do you think he views their marriage?
"I think it's going to be okay." There's a wonderful irony. The more they tell each other that, the deeper they descend into the story. How does he view their marriage? I think this is his household, and he's proven that he's really dedicated to Shauna. We know he's read all of her journals.
We know he knows your past. He's accepted it. And he is there to protect her.
So, his marriage is one of the most important things in his life. And being worthy of Shauna and being worthy of her love and trying to be seen as the exciting lover, the exciting man that she clearly had to look elsewhere to find. He's going to do his best to be that guy and prove himself.
Okay. And you know, you get to spend a lot of time working with Melanie Lynskey, and you guys have a great onscreen rapport. What has it been like working with her and crafting that onscreen relationship?
Melanie is fantastic. First of all, she's absolutely adorable. But the first time we worked together, or the first time we met, was like our first scene we were on set. So it was an onset meeting, and that happened to be the roleplay bedroom scene in episode two, which is a really interesting scene.
There's a lot of history there. There's a lot going on. These two characters trying to revitalize their marriage.
So I'm not sure if I pulled it off, that's a tall order, but I did realize that I was disarmed by Melanie immediately, her disposition, which is very charming. She's wonderfully humorous. And I knew that I'd lucked into a really excellent scene partner and a fun playmate for this show, which was a relief.
And so she really helped me relax. And once I saw how she does what she does so well, which is this effortless expression of her craft and her talent, I was able to relax. And the chemistry was very natural after that.
We just started drafting each other and finding what these two, how they are accomplices, and what their common ground is, even if it's not on the page.
Yellowjackets has been a rousing success from the start, both critically and with the audience. How pleased have you been with the reception of the series?
I was excited when I first read it because you just recognized when the vision was clear on the part of the creators and the characters themselves. They're very specific individuals, the way they interact with each other is always the dialogue. It's meaningful and specific. And I was like; I don't know how they're going to weave all this together, frankly.
But it reads well, and it turns out that they masterfully wove it all together into this engaging, very unique, singular kind of piece of embroidery. So to see an audience recognize that, and it sort of build itself up with street credit, just week to week, word of mouth, is very satisfying.
And the talent speaks for itself. People recognize that. The young cast was amazing. The older cast, old, that includes me, the older cast is, oh, just solid. And everybody was game. And you can tell that everybody bought into a story and that it comes across and speaks really well for the show.
Do you ever check in to see the theories that fans are throwing around out there? Were you doing that during Season One?
No, I don't. Are there some interesting ones out there?
Well, I mean, there are tons of questions, but during the first season, everybody was trying to figure out who was the blackmailer, and it was just kind of like off the wall, who was this person? Could this person really be somebody else? And there was just every week, people throwing different stuff out there.
Well, as we would go week to week, just on set, there would be serious talks because we wouldn't know exactly what was coming either. Some things I knew if I asked the writers, like if Jeff knows, I'd like to know, but if Jeff doesn't know, I don't need to know.
Having read Shauna's journals, that was an important thing that I needed to know. But yeah, we got theories too. Was Adam an adult version of Javi? That was the first theory that we had.
Stuff like that.
"Who are we blackmailing?"
Yeah, yeah, I didn't think it was Jeff. I'll tell you that.
I was going to ask you, and you talked about this before, too, reading the scripts and recognizing the strengths of the series. Was there something specific that attracted you to the role of Jeff?
Yeah, I first read it, and Jeff, I just didn't see myself as this guy as he was coming across in my imagination at first. But I really liked it. It's like, "I want to be a part of this, but, damn it, I just don't think...I'm not seeing a guy that even looks like me being Jeff."
Maybe he's an ex-jock. He owns a furniture store. The page reflects a certain guy who maybe has accepted an underachievement or a certain mediocrity about himself. And he reflects that just by looking at him. Maybe his hairline is receding a little, or he is an ex-jock, so he's got "the dad bod times two."
And I was like, well, that's really lazy thinking. What if I just found myself in a position like Jeff? And what if Jeff was a little more banging than that? What if he still believed he was the big man on campus and still had to keep up with appearances?
What if there's a certain ego in this guy, he thinks of himself a certain way, and he's prideful, and he really is this kind of Labrador, but he thinks of himself like a prize show dog, a German Shepherd. What's that like?
And I think if it's just an honest performance, which is what I gave the creators for the audition, they're going to say, "Okay, yeah, there's a take on him." And they were going to go with it, thankfully.
If you could describe Yellowjackets Season Two in three words, what would those three words be?
Shocking, confident, menagerie.
How about that?
Yeah, that's thinking outside the box.
Those are big words.
Over your career, you've gotten a chance to play many different characters, some darker than others. Do you feel like playing some of those darker characters prepared you for a show like Yellowjackets?
Yeah, well, the tone of a show kind of is revealed in the script. And once you're on set, the design of it. So, whether you're in a dark world or a bright one, that's kind of superfluous to the character. But Jeff, it's a dark world in Yellowjackets, but Jeff really isn't psychopathic or pathological, like Shades of Blue or The Following.
He's a reactive kind of surface in there. As opposed to being an architect of the dark world like Roderick in The Following, or Agent Stahl in Shades of Blue, he's more kind of doing his best to react to it.
So he can be kind, and he can be guileless, and he cannot be twisting his mustache at all or unhinged and still exist within that world, which is a fun juxtaposition. I like him, and I like playing him.
Those are the two roles I was thinking of behind that question.
Yeah, those were the two most recent ones I could think of. I've done some pretty dark and found a niche there, but it's cool to be in a brooding dark show like that but not having to dry the darkness.
You have gotten a chance to play a lot of different characters, a lot of different roles. What role would be a dream for you if you could craft a perfect role for yourself?
I'm up for anything. I really am. If it's interesting. If it's exciting. If it's different. If it's offbeat. I've always liked the Coen brothers. I like quick thrillers with good dialogue. Shane Black comes to mind, usually character-driven stuff. But if it's exciting, that's interesting. I don't care about the genre. I don't care about a particular type or being a hero or a heel.
I just want to play on a good team. I just want to be a part of something. That's a good expression.
I read in your bio that you like to ride your motorcycle across the country. What has been your favorite place that you've gotten to ride through?
In country? I think I once did Route 66 from Arizona to eastern Tennessee, then nothing but back roads through Tennessee, from Memphis to Nashville, and then hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Roanoke, Virginia. That was probably the best. And it was beautiful. It was perfect.
It was me and a buddy, and we just spent ten days. It's a big country. Motorcycling, it's kind of an experience. Either you get it, or you don't, but you can shrug off the constraints. You can shrug off the rigors of life, and you're just out in the open, and you're just flying.
And it's a great way to, I don't know, get back in touch with yourself and get priorities straight. Yeah.
That was a long answer.
No, I liked it, though. I thought it was really nice.
What TV shows are you currently enjoying, or if you're not really caught up on anything, what's a comfort show for you? A show you put on when you're feeling up, down, or in between?
Right now, I've just started watching Perry Mason on HBO. Season one, and it's HBO. They just do things well. The world that they created, and clearly, they've got just pedigree behind that. So I'm watching Perry Mason and just finished watching Succession last year.
Succession, too, which is, we were up against them at the Emmys last year, and I hadn't seen it yet. And I was like, come on, how good is this show? Is this a bunch of rich assholes? How interesting can that be?
Yeah, that's good. Good.
Yeah, it's pretty good.
Pretty good. But in terms of comfort, you can always go back to Breaking Bad for drama or something like that. Or I can go back to sitcoms. I used to love the old James Burrows. Whether it's Cheers or Frasier, you go back, and I can almost say each line, along with the characters at this point, but it's still comfortable.
Well, thank you so much for your time today, Warren. This was a great chat. I really appreciate it.
Of course. Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me. Appreciate it.
Yeah, and good luck with the season. I'm excited to watch it!
Yeah, I'm excited to watch it too. I haven't seen any of it yet, and I'm excited to see what they do with it. It'll be really, really good.
***This interview has been edited for length and clarity.***
You can watch Yellowjackets on the Showtime app and Paramount+ with Showtime on Fridays, and at 9/8c on Sundays on Showtime. And you can follow our weekly reviews here at TV Fanatic.
Whitney Evans is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.