Heléne Yorke
Heléne Yorke (Photo: Emilio Madrid)

The Other Two returns this week after the sort of two-year hiatus that’s becoming increasingly common in our age of pandemic-related delays and platform shuffling. It’s been a long wait for fans—like Olivia Coleman—of this charmingly sharp, critically beloved comedy about directionless siblings Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Traver) who are thrust into quarter-life crises when their 13-year-old brother Chase (Case Walker) unexpectedly becomes a Bieber-like pop star overnight. Created by former Saturday Night Live co-head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, the show combines the familial warmth of Schitt’s Creek with biting entertainment industry satire.

As Brooke, Yorke brings a gimlet-eyed confidence to the messy-girl archetype. Think Amy Schumer meets Tina Fey with a dash of Kaitlin Olson. The new season, which premieres on HBO Max, finds Brooke trying to get her management career off the ground by finding the next TikTok phenomenon. But so far her only potential client is her mom Pat (Molly Shannon), who has become daytime TV sensation. Ahead of the premiere, Yorke called GRAZIA to chat about skewering the entertainment biz, Brooke’s “manager costumes” and her surprisingly thorough knowledge of gay culture.

Season 1 was all about Brooke and Cary feeling like they don’t measure up to their younger brother’s success. But in Season 2, Brooke is arguable the most successful of the three siblings. How does that change things for her and how does that change the dynamic of the show?

Brooke is having a lot of her own success, as you said, and as a result has absolutely no time for herself. I think she has this impression that, I’m going to be this strong business woman and have it all! Now, she’s the sibling that has money. She can pay for Cary’s Lyft rides. And I think she finds loneliness within that. It speaks to the idea that you have this dream of what making it will look like and oftentimes that kind of falls short of what you hope it to be.

Chris and Sarah always tell us that the basis of the character this season is when they were writing at SNL, the absolute mountaintop of the comedy career: to be the head writers at SNL. Meanwhile, they were walking out of the building at four in the morning in the same t-shirt they’d been wearing for days. So, it’s always a little less sexy than you think it’s gonna be, and that’s Brooke’s journey this year.

Yorke with Drew Traver in <i>The Other Two</i>
Yorke with Drew Traver in The Other Two (Photo: Greg Endries/HBO Max)

Does Brooke’s success affect her relationship with Cary at all?

Not really. I think what the show does so well and something that people comment on a lot is the fact that there is no animosity or jealousy between these family members. At the end of the day, they’re always rooting for each other’s success and happiness. So, if anything, they’re finding themselves in these crazier positions, being more well-known and Brooke is just still encouraging Cary to ride the wave, as she says to him in the first season. I think that’s what makes the show so refreshing. It’s the supportive dynamic. The cornerstone of the show is the strength of their brother-sister relationship.

I think it’s interesting that Brooke’s storyline is so much more focused on her career whereas Cary’s is comparatively more relationship focused.

I think what’s great is that Season 1 sees Cary in kind of a bad space with is sexuality—making out with his straight roommate. And in Season 2 he’s got a boyfriend—which is, albeit, kind of tame. But for Brooke, she watches her brother find love and have this grounding at home and she feels like she’s missing out on something. Things fell apart with Lance at the end of Season 1 and she’s thinking, I want somebody to come home to, and I have nothing. I just do all this work for other people. And again, it speaks to working so hard doing something that you forget to do things for you.

Josh Segarra is back this season as Lance. Should we be shipping Brooke and Lance?

Yeah! You know, I loved how they ended Season 1. Brooke thinks she’s hot sh*t, but at the end she realizes she wants this guy that makes her feel like she’s home. And he says he’s actually ready to move on, and I think that’s actually a good challenge for her to go through. We see them, this season, explore what it is to be friends. And, you know, I just love a will-they-won’t-they storyline! I loved Ross and Rachel from Friends. But the idea that two exes become pals is a fun dynamic to unwrap.

Yorke (right) with Drew Traver in <i>The Other Two</i>
Yorke (right) with Drew Traver in The Other Two (Photo: Greg Endries/HBO Max)

The show is, among other things, an entertainment industry satire. I’m curious if working on The Other Two has changed the way you think about your industry at all.

I think from the outside everything about the entertainment industry looks cool. And I can tell you from the inside, nobody is as cool as you think they are. Everybody is worried. It’s like that silly column in Us Weekly, “Stars, They’re Just Like Us!” I think what the show does so well is poke fun at an industry that takes itself so seriously sometimes. And while, sure, it satirizes it, it sort of makes it accessibly silly for people. And it is kind of silly. It’s insane that we dress up and people take pictures of it. Does anybody care?

Well, I don’t know how much dressing up and going out you’ve been able to do in the past year and a half, but when you do a red carpet now, is there part of you that thinks about that experience differently now having worked on a show that really chips away at the mystique?

Yeah, I think it’s really easy to feel like a fish out of water in situations like that. Especially on red carpets. And I certainly did for many years. And I think to remember that it’s a business. I get this from Molly Shannon a little bit when I would chat with her. She goes to all these unbelievable parties. Like she was at this huge Oscar party, and it’s Molly Shannon and she was kind of giddy about all the people she had met there. And I was like, “Yeah, but they got to meet Molly Shannon!” What I love about that and what I find so refreshing is that it’s kind of amazing that we get to meet the people we meet and work with. Like, I just casually share a break room with Wanda Sykes and ask if she wants something from Starbucks! You know what I mean? It’s very weird to pretend that that’s normal. Instead of feeling like a fish out of water, I think taking these opportunities to think of it still as a fan from the outside—like, how great is this? And that’s the perspective I have. I don’t feel like I have to seem like I’m really above it, when I’m not really above anything!

I love Brooke’s “manager costumes.” Talk to me about those. What was the inspiration behind that look?

It came from Sarah Schneider, I believe. It’s also very funny, as an entertainment person, that professional dress is, like, a very foreign concept to actors—and especially to Brooke. But Sarah Schneider herself always wears a good suit set, and our amazing costume designer, Jill Bream, came up with what that would be like—the idea that you’re dressing up and it’s like adult cosplay.

What does your own management think of the show’s portrayal of their job?

I have a voicemail from my manager after he watched the first three episodes where he’s talking about it and then he starts to cry because of how proud he is. I have a very familial relationship with my manager, and when I finally got him on the phone, he was like, “It’s just so fun to see you play something that speaks to me so deeply!” And it made me think about all the times I’ve called him on a Sunday night. And I’m kinda like, Oh, I really have to stop doing that!

Heléne Yorke
Heléne Yorke (Photo: Emilio Madrid)

If you could cast any celebrity to guest star as Brooke’s new client, who would you choose?

That’s a great question… I’m going through my Instagram feed. Oh! Olivia Rodrigo! Gen Z superstar, beloved Olivia Rodrigo. Because she’s been to the White House! In a Clueless look!

But then, would you be comfortable fully satirizing her?

Umm, yes! I think a lot of the satire [on The Other Two] is loving satire. For example, in Season 1 we satired Justin Theroux’s house—this idea that he had this man cave with only cement seats and a chapel that is for Justin to worship at the altar of Justin Theroux. And I met him. He gave me a big hug and he loves the show. And then we got this message—all four of us, me, Drew, Chris and Sarah were all in Atlanta doing the SCAD Festival. Ken [Marino] called and was like, “Justin wants to invite you over to watch Episode 5.” To go to actual Justin Theroux’s house to watch the episode were they debut his fictional house! We were out of town and it was so devastating! I hope people know that we’re satirizing with love and are able to laugh at themselves.

Yorke (right) with Drew Traver in The Other Two
Yorke (right) with Drew Traver in The Other Two (Photo: Zach Dilgard/HBO)

Brooke knows more about gay culture than Cary. Why is that? Where did that aspect of her character come from?

[Laughs] You know, I love the scene in Season 1 where she’s at the gay bar and she’s like, “Everybody here loves me!” And then this guy is like, “Everybody here hates her.” You know, I myself feel deeply ingrained in gay culture, and loving it. So, I don’t know where exactly the idea came from. I just think she’s a real cheerleader for Cary. He struggles with it a little bit, and what’s so refreshing about Brooke is that she has no problem with it whatsoever. So, watching her brother go through this, she’s like, “Just get on Grindr.” It’s so obvious to her. And if you catch it, there’s a scene where you see Brooke’s cell phone screen and she has Grindr downloaded, which I love. More than anything, I think she’s a very annoying fan of gay culture—much like myself! [Laughs]

You live in Brooklyn and have done a lot of Broadway over the years. Is it safe to assume you could just recommend a New York gay bar off the top of your head like Brooke?

Oh my god, I remember Musical Mondays at Splash! I mean, that was the spot! Did you ever go to Vinyl? It’s the gayest restaurant in New York. This is the gayest thing that’s ever happened to me: I got food poisoning at Vinyl before seeing A Chorus Line and I threw up in Queens after getting off the N train. I was, like, 22! [Laughs]

Like Brooke, you have two younger brothers. Does that inform your dynamic with Drew and Case at all?

Yeah, it does. Especially doing the chemistry read with Drew to get the job in the first place, I just remember reading with him, and at one point I reached up and touched his earlobe. I think sibling relationships are a very specific kind of affection. You love somebody, but you also can say anything to them and know you’ll be ok at the end of the day. They’re not gonna leave you. And to know somebody so well is both beautiful and unnerving. And to be known so well—You’re like, “No, I wanna be this other thing!” But your brothers will always be like, “Yeah, right. Good luck!” I think that’s what Brooke and Cary have.