Like Brooke, her deliciously misguided character on The Other Two, Heléne Yorke is just trying to do some good. Or at least order something good. We’re at Buvette in Manhattan’s West Village, where she’s considering steak tartare—a favorite, but one that “seems very aggressive” for 1 p.m. We consider sharing the hearty waffle sandwich, but it drips with enough sunny-side egg and maple syrup to intimidate us. “Don’t ever come to lunch with me,” Yorke quips. “We’re fucked…. You check the menu before you go so that you don’t have an existential crisis.”
Thanks to a few gentle steers from our server, Yorke and I wind up splitting the croque-madame and a soft-scrambled-egg toast topped with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, plus carrots on the side. With our order settled, she makes a confession about where we’re seated. “I had a very controversial conversation at this table with a friend,” Yorke says, leaning in. “She was basically trying to convince me to get out of my relationship—a relationship that was new and not a good idea. I’m having post-traumatic stress about it. She ended up being right. They always are.” Before I can ask if she’d prefer to move, Yorke declares that someone close to her called the day prior with news that their on-and-off relationship was finally over. “I was very nice on the phone,” she says proudly. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry.’ I wasn’t like, ‘Ha!’ Which I thought was very big of me.”
Yorke is well aware that this sounds a lot like dialogue from an episode of The Other Two. I ask her if, by season three, she and her character, Brooke, have fully converged. “Sadly, yes,” she admits. “I’ll have gotten through 15 takes trying something, and instead I just do it the way I would say it.”
The Max comedy, created by former SNL writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, follows Yorke’s Brooke and Drew Tarver’s Cary as they navigate their professional identities and ambitions beside their **Justin Bieber–**esque brother, Chase (Case Walker), and their daytime-television-mogul mother, Pat (Molly Shannon).
In this postpandemic season, talent manager Brooke tries to swap her shallow showbiz career for a life in service. For Brooke, “doing good” means putting “she/her” and “Black Lives Matter” in her Instagram bio; briefly dying her hair a mousy shade of brown; and in the standout eighth episode, hosting a Chase-fronted mental health awareness telethon.
Despite its branding as “A Night of Undeniable Good,” the event seems like it’s being punished at every turn—by COVID-19 diagnoses, a sexually predatory mental health counselor, and a particularly brutal technical error. (“Insert Name of Parkland Survivor We Can Get,” the screen reads at one point.) “When I read the episode, I thought that they were waiting for the name,” says Yorke. “And when I did ADR, I was like, ‘Wait, guys, this is the joke? You little fuckers.’” Adding insult to the evening’s derailment? At episode’s end, Brooke discovers that her do-gooder ex, Lance (Josh Segarra), has been named People’s Sexiest Man Alive, gracing the magazine’s cover alongside other attractive nurses.
From here on out, “it gets really dark for Cary and Brooke. That jealousy, that desperation, that self-doubt, is universal in all of us,” Yorke says. “And if you say it isn’t, you’re a liar. I’m not above seeing that somebody got a cover and losing my goddamn mind.” And Lance isn’t completely absolved in this, either. “We all kind of suck. He kind of sucks. Anybody too good, that’s annoying,” she says in defense of her character. “So to give Brooke flak is like, What the fuck? You’re so good? Maybe you just need somebody who meets you where you’re at. My husband does that.”
Between being cast on the show and now, Yorke married her partner, Bary Dunn, and gave birth to their now one-year-old son, Hugo. “I did my entire life in between seasons,” she says. “I highly recommend marriage and babies. If there was something I could be the face of, it would be that.” But Yorke didn’t always feel that way. “I was a New York girl and I loved dating. I loved being single. I loved being a ho. I loved being Brooke Dubek,” she says. “And then I met my husband, and he’s the hottest man I’ve ever seen in my life. I was like, All right, I’ll do forever with this.”
“We got married, and I was like, I’m old. Who knows how long it’ll take to get pregnant? And I got pregnant immediately,” Yorke adds. Production was shifted from June to September to accommodate her maternity leave. “I had a hard time full-time momming. It was almost like, not that I forgot who I was, [but] I was becoming somebody else.” Gradually, that changed, though there have obviously been growing pains. “I realized, in going back to work, that I could be me and a mom at the same time…. I was pumping milk out of my titties on the corner of 53rd and Lexington, under a rain tower, before making out with somebody who wasn’t my husband. So it was bizarre in that, and trying to figure out how to finagle a pump in a costume with no bra. But it felt good.”
Yorke, who was born in Canada and raised largely in Los Angeles, pictured Gwyneth Paltrow—specifically, Paltrow clutching her Oscar in that iconic pink dress—as the quintessential actress. “And that seemed so far away to me, to a point where I was like, I should really do musical theater.” And she did just that—making her Broadway debut in the 2007 revival of Grease before originating a role in the musical version of American Psycho in 2016. In between, Yorke played Glinda the Good Witch on the second national tour of Wicked.
“When you meet people that are not in the biz, they ask for a list of your credits. Oftentimes, my mother-in-law will introduce me to people and be like, ‘She played Glinda in Wicked,’ because that’s the thing that’ll mean something to them,” Yorke says. “You often get comments like ‘Good for you,’ because, certainly, if they don’t know who you are, that means you’re broke.” For a while, Yorke says, even she didn’t realize “that you could have a full career and [yet] be niche…. I used to think you had to be Gwyneth Paltrow to make a living—literally feast or total famine.”