ACTOR STEVEN KRUEGER ON: SAYING YES, SWAPPING WITH MERYL STREEP + SHOWTIME’S YELLOWJACKETS SEASON 2!
EDITOR IN CHIEF + PHOTOGRAPHY: COREY GUEVARRA
WARDROBE: KIMBERLY GOODNIGHT
GROOMING: KATHY SANTIAGO
WARDOBE ASSISTANT: MICHAELA REED
Have you been watching Showtime’s Yellowjackets?! Because….well…WOW. Calling the now 7-time Emmy nominated series a wonderfully WILD ride is putting it mildly to say the least! Nestled neatly in the almost all female ensemble, brilliantly besotted is a character we absolutely cannot miss! Playing the initially quasi-questionable, multi-layered 'Coach Ben' is the familiar face of none other than actor Steven Krueger! Most millennials might remember him during our days of obsession with the Vampire Diaries/Originals spinoff series era. Today however, Steven has settled into his new character, back for more on season 2 of this twisty-turny psychologically thrilling series! Did you know that he’d almost not pursued acting at all? That he was in fact leading himself directly into a life as a future lawyer? It’s wild when a split decision acutely alters the trajectory of our life’s story. Even wilder is when we yield into the unknown & things turn out far better than we could’ve ever imagined! Off camera & away from his coaching character, Steven is equal parts kind & contentious, randomly thoughtful with a gratitude for his present life’s path that you can literally feel when in his presence. Chatting his past, present & future: the fantastic Steven Krueger on: expectations, anticipated excitement & existential availability!
STEVEN, WHERE ARE YOU FROM & WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born in Wisconsin and lived there until I was 9. Then moved to Sarasota, FL with my mom and younger brother. So my childhood was kind of split in two, but I always say I'm from Sarasota because that's where most of my family still lives and where I consider home.
FOR ANY NEW COMERS, CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF RUNDOWN OF YELLOWJACKETS? HOW WOULD YOU PERSONALLY DESCRIBE THE SHOW?
It's ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets ‘Lost’ meets ‘Friday Night Lights’. Try to wrap your head around that ha! The show essentially follows a high school girls soccer team whose plane crashes in the Canadian mountains in 1996. They are forced to survive for 19 months out in the wilderness before being rescued and the show flashes between the wilderness in the 90s and the present day when the survivors are grown up and still dealing with the repercussions of what happened out there.
MADE FOR ALL - TOP + PANTS , PYRRHA - NECKLACE
WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ROLE OF COACH BEN SCOTT?
How much time you got? [LOL] First and foremost, this was one of the best pilot scripts I had ever read! Our creators, Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, who I had the pleasure of working with on my first show years before, took a really big swing with the story and I knew that this was going to be something special. As a character, Coach Ben had so many different challenging elements that it was truly an actor's dream. He suddenly finds himself in a life and death situation...that in and of itself would be exciting to play with. But then you add on top the fact that he's the only adult in the group and one of only three boys left in the group surrounded by a bunch of young women. Oh and he loses a leg after a traumatic injury from the crash. Oh AND he's harboring a massive personal secret. As an actor, you just start drooling at the possibilities!!!
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THIS NEW SEASON OF THE SHOW?
The thing we all talk about is how challenging it can be to come back for a second season after the kind of success we were fortunate enough to find in Season 1. I think everyone felt the weight of those expectations throughout filming. You have to push the envelope a bit further so that the story doesn't become stale but you have to be cautious to not go off the deep end for the sake of shock value. Our writers did an incredible job walking that line in Season 2. Make no mistake, the story gets even more unhinged but it's all rooted in the circumstances of the story and the characters. It doesn't feel forced. You won't be able to look away (even though you might want to at times).
WE JUST EXITED WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH & YOU ARE WORKING ALONGSIDE AN EPIC CAST OF WOMEN! ACTING AS A CRAFT OFTEN MEANS BEING THE EVER-STUDENT. HAVE THERE BEEN ANY TEACHABLE, UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS FOR YOU AT THE GUIDE OF THIS POWERFUL FEMALE ENSEMBLE?
I will never forget our very first table read before filming the pilot when we all took a minute to simply look around the room and acknowledge and relish the fact that this is so rare. To have a show of this caliber with an almost entirely female cast is remarkable. It should be celebrated. It should be duplicated, many times over. I think over the course of the last two seasons, working with so many talented, intelligent and kind women has allowed me to soften both as an actor and as a person, in the best way possible. A man leaning into his feminine side can be so powerful and oftentimes we're conditioned to shy away from embracing it. I'm grateful that this show has presented me with an opportunity to expand and grow in that way!
SO MANY OF US MET YOU (MYSELF INCLUDED) AS JOSH ON THE ORIGINALS! WE KNOW YOU’VE ALSO DONE WORK ON PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, WORKAHOLICS, PARENTHOOD AND MORE! WHAT LED YOU TO ACTING & HOW WAS THAT FIRST BIG BREAK ON THE ORIGINALS FOR YOU? I’D GUESS THAT A TON OF NOTORIETY PROBABLY IMMEDIATELY APPEARED, WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE FOR YOU?
So I never planned on being an actor professionally. Because why would I? Like who does that??! In fact I had no interest in acting whatsoever until my mother forced me to try it in high school [As if I needed something else to add to my already slightly nerdy persona]. -But even once I realized how much I enjoyed it, it was always just a fun hobby. I went off to college and planned to go to law school. But perhaps serendipitously I found myself in LA for an internship right after I graduated and suddenly it didn't seem that impossible anymore. Wasn't long before I did a full U-turn on my entire life plan!
The Originals never actually felt like a big break that happened all at once. Initially Josh was supposed to be a small part of the show, like 3 or 4 episodes, which, at the time, I was ecstatic about. But it just felt like another small step in the right direction. And then, largely thanks to a handful of the writers in that first season of the show (Ashley and Bart included), Josh kind of became the little character that could. Something just kind of clicked and he kept sticking around. I then spent the next five seasons expecting each episode to be my last. The first time someone approached me on the street and asked for a picture I thought they wanted me to take one of them and their friend. So yeah, it took a while to realize what I had stumbled into. But to be a part of something like that for the entire run of the series, I think was the first time I realized, "oh I actually might be able to do this thing".
GIVENCHY - SWEATER, 4FUNKYFLAVOURS - PANTS, PYRRHA - NECKLACE, BAROLLO ITALY - SHOES
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TIME OF DAY STEVEN?
I've weirdly always been a morning person. I feel most clear headed in the morning and I love the thought of getting up and getting a jump on the rest of the world.
WHAT CAN WE FIND YOU DOING WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA?
Catch me if you can!! -I love to travel in general, and I'm a bit of a nature freak. Hiking, backpacking, camping. If I can't get out of the city, I'll still find stuff to do outside. Golf, tennis, volleyball, and yes, I'm fully aboard the pickleball hype train.
WHERE DO YOU HOPE TO BE IN LIFE SAY, 26 YEARS FROM NOW?
Whoa I was fully expecting you to say 5 years from now. But I see what you did there, very clever. I mean I guess I hope to be alive and healthy and still able to hike up a mountain without my knees buckling? A family is definitely in my future as well, and at that point who knows if all actors will have been replaced by AI so maybe I'll be running for political office or flying airplanes, both of which have always intrigued me!
IF YOU COULD SWITCH LIVES WITH ONE PERSON FOR A DAY WHO WOULD IT BE?
I'd really like to not just switch lives but do a full body swap with Meryl Streep because then I could maybe try to figure out how she does it.
XIVI - SHIRT, OCEAN REBEL - PANTS, GUCCI - SUNGLASSES, BAROLLO ITALY - SHOES
DO YOU BELIEVE IN & OR PRACTICE WELLNESS & SELF-CARE STEVEN? IF SO WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
If you're not practicing some version of wellness and self-care, you just aren't doing life right. But it looks different for everybody. I'm one of those introverted extroverts so I can thrive in social situations and be around other people but it really wears me down because it requires so much energy for me. So making sure that I take space and time to be alone is crucial. I need that reset multiple times a week. And, especially as I've gotten older, the contrast between days I have time to exercise and days I don't is massive. I've also learned that variety is key when it comes to exercise and fitness. So I try to mix in a bunch of different things on a weekly basis. Sometimes it's circuit training and rowing, sometimes it's stretching and riding a bike. Functional strength for the win!
WHAT’S A THING FANS/SUPPORTERS WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?
Fun fact: I prefer going to movies by myself. And I do it all the time!
AS AN ACTOR, WHAT EXCITES YOU?
Anything that forces me out of my comfort zone. Anything that I read and my immediate instinct is to say "no, I don't think I can do that" or "no that isn't right for me". Those end up being the roles that really allow you to be creative and not simply rely on your own defaults. That's what gets the blood pumping.
" I CAN STILL REMEMBER THE MOMENT I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO SHIFT MY ENTIRE LIFE PLAN + PURSUE AN ACTING CAREER. I WAS TERRIFIED. BUT IT WAS EXHILARATING! "
AS STEVEN; HUMAN BEING/CITIZEN OF THE WORLD/FRIEND FROM SARASOTA, FL WHAT EXCITES YOU?
It's actually not that different. -Whatever scares me! I can still remember the moment I decided I was going to shift my entire life plan and pursue an acting career. I was terrified. But it was exhilarating. There are infinite examples of course, but maybe it's best summed up as simply 'leaning in'. Following impulses and leaning into whatever you're feeling and experiencing!
D.RT- SUIT, GIVENCHY - SHIRT , BAROLLO ITALY - SHOES
WHAT DID THAT EXPERIENCE OF ‘YIELDING’ TO SAYING YES TO YOUR DREAMS (VS THE SAFE PLAN) TEACH YOU ABOUT LIFE + WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANYONE WANTING TO LEAP ASWELL?
I’d say, chances are if there's an itch somewhere in your brain, you aren't going to be truly happy until you scratch it. Who knows what the end result might be, but living with regret as an alternate? -That sucks!
ARE YOU ‘EXISTENTIALLY AVAILABLE’ STEVEN? ARE YOU AWAKE/PRESENT/AWARE IN THE INCREDIBLE MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE? DO YOU EVER INTENTIONALLY PAUSE TO TRULY TAKE IT ALL IN?
Love this phrase! And I so badly want to say yes. But I think it's something I have to actively work to remind myself of. There's an inherent anxiety that I have where the second I stop to acknowledge the incredible moments, I'm worried they'll disappear. So my default is just to power through and not make too big a fuss about it. That said, with age comes wisdom (I think), and I've gotten much better about finding a balance. I can slow down and appreciate when something amazing is happening and know that whether or not it disappears, it still happened.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY IN 6 WORDS FOR US STEVEN:
I always feel like an unreliable narrator for questions like this but let's give it a shot.
-Loyal, curious, silly, thoughtful, nervous, and hungry (mainly for food).
WHAT’S THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR STEVEN?
My niece finally being able to call me ‘Uncle Steven’ :)
STEVEN, WHAT’S YOUR DEFINITION OF LUXURY?
I think luxury is a feeling more than a thing you can touch. You can put on a great pair of shoes or an outfit that fits perfectly. Maybe it's an expensive suit or maybe it's a thrift store vintage jacket. But does it make you feel confident and powerful? Then that’s it! That’s the definition of FEELING pretty damn luxurious!
& FINALLY STEVEN, WHY SHOULD WE ALL TUNE INTO THE NEW SEASON OF YELLOW JACKETS?
Simply, because there's legitimately NOTHING else like it on TV! -And well…. because Melanie Lynskey! :)