‘The Other Two’ Star Heléne Yorke Saw Her Feet Pics Online and Knew She’d Made It
Talking the farce of millennial dreams, reckless confidence, and foot-fetish fame with Heléne Yorke, the hilarious breakout star of HBO Max’s ‘The Other Two.’
Heléne Yorke has been giving online foot enthusiasts everything they want.
The actress, currently starring in season two of the showbiz satire/bitingly funny millennial comedy The Other Two on HBO Max, jokes that she knew she had made it when a Google search of her name surfaced—as it does for the biggest A-list stars—a profile in a database that outlines a celebrity’s age, net worth, and information about their feet. “More than anything I’m flattered that people give a shit about my net worth,” Yorke laughs in a recent Zoom interview.
The bizarre, yet high-SEO fetish is one of The Other Two’s biggest preoccupations, a repeated target in its send-up of the peculiarities of the entertainment industry and the cynical interplay between corporatism and public consumption.
In season one, the fact that rising YouTube star Chase Dreams (played by Case Walker) was featured on a foot website was proof of his fame. In the just-released second season, Chase’s brother, an aspiring actor named Cary (Drew Tarver), hosts an online web series bluntly called Age, Net Worth, Feet, in which he grills starlets on the red carpet about the internet’s three most craven curiosities.
“I don’t know why feet are so funny to us,” Sarah Schneider, who co-created the show with Chris Kelly, told The Daily Beast last week. “We like to think of our show as a foot show first, and then second is a family comedy.”
It’s uncanny how that particular element of The Other Two dovetailed with its star's own calamity during the pandemic. It was the kind of preventable disaster brought on by a toxic cocktail of hubris and delusion that would befall Yorke’s character, Brooke, on the show: an ambitious woman who struts toward outrageous goals with Cindy Crawford confidence, only to end up slipping to inevitable failure like Bambi bumbling across the ice.
The Other Two was shooting season two in March 2020 when, Yorke says, “I don’t know if you knew about this, this massive world event happened. It was crazy. It blew out of nowhere.” Being sent home for a week became two weeks, which then became a year.
Right before production was about to restart, Yorke had the bright idea to try skiing for the first time, a flight of fancy that’s typically a direct route to the ER for the average grown adult who’s never hit the slopes before. She and her fiancé were going on a trip to Hunter Mountain. Everyone had always asked her if she skied. Flippantly, she decided, “I’ll just try it.”
Was she going to take a lesson? “I was like, no, I’m just going to watch some YouTube videos.” Miraculously she mastered the bunny hill. “I did it so many times that I have text chains with people being like, ‘I’m really good at this.’” Channeling her inner Picabo Street, she decided to take the lift up to the next level of difficulty, assuming that the hill would be “easy” given her freshly-honed expertise.
“It was not easy,” she says. She ended up tearing her ACL.
The Other Two was set to start up again in a matter of weeks. Her first day back, she was scheduled to do some pratfalls. The whole ordeal was humbling. Even New York’s notoriously cold-hearted strangers expressed sympathy as she hobbled through the streets on crutches. But if there was a silver lining to embrace, it’s that the episode really made her stock soar with the aforementioned online foot community.
“Since I tore my ACL I posted a lot of pictures of me and my knee brace, so my feet are a sensation right now,” she brags. “And that is how I felt I made it. A commenter was like, ‘Let me see those toesies…’”
Having the greatest of intentions and the desire for personal fulfillment, only for things to crash with indignity… which is then rebranded as a cringe victory: There’s a reason why critics marvel at how perfectly cast Heléne Yorke is as Brooke in The Other Two.
It’s a series that has seen its word of mouth grow from a whisper to bellowing from mountaintops by fans that have followed it over its two-year journey from Comedy Central, through a pandemic, and, now, a network change to HBO Max for season two. On one of the funniest shows on TV, Yorke is delivering one of the funniest performances.
In addition to people’s bizarre preoccupation with feet, The Other Two is about how a family grapples with the unmooring mind-meld of fame.
When Chase Dreams releases “Marry U at Recess” and becomes a pop sensation, the “other two,” his millennial siblings Cary and Brooke, are forced to examine their own lives and how pathetically little they resemble the plans they had for themselves.
Cary was supposed to be a working actor, but instead, when we meet him, he is waiting tables and rehearsing an audition for “Man at Party Who Smells Fart.” Brooke was a dancer whose career was sidelined after an injury. Now she’s squatting on an air mattress at a luxury apartment she’s supposed to be finding a buyer for, hurriedly stashing a pizza box—last night’s dinner—in the dryer before clients arrive.
To be bitter over a younger sibling’s success is to be human, though Cary and Brooke’s resentment is tempered by a genuine family bond and concern for Chase’s wellbeing. A hardened New York edge after years of disappointment, however, is their weapon for bushwhacking through life, scoffing at and dismissing the losers, lame-os, and those who have achieved what they think they deserve along the way.
“I think people that suck are really funny,” Yorke says about Brooke. “I think people that are rude, or not the sharpest, or kind of all over the place are deeply funny. Of course, I know and I love a lot of people like this. But it’s fun to comment on it through my work.”
Born in Vancouver and raised largely in California, Yorke graduated with a fine arts degree from the University of Michigan and began working in musical theater. She made her Broadway debut as a replacement in the last revival of Grease, played Glinda in the national tour of Wicked, and originated roles in Bullets Over Broadway and American Psycho. After scoring her first TV role in an episode of Louie—her character was credited as “Hot Girl”—she earned critical notices for recurring roles in Masters of Sex, High Maintenance, and The Good Fight.
As she remembers it, she was a little terrified when she got the scripts for The Other Two’s audition. It was written by Kelly and Schneider, who had previously worked as co-head writers of Saturday Night Live. Beyond that, it was as if the character of Brooke had already been written in her own voice. “I was like, ‘If I fuck this up, I’m quitting the business.’”
“I read this character that I sadly really identify with,” she says. “The relatability to flailing is something that I feel is missing [on TV].”
There’s something both inspirational and cringe-inducing about the way Brooke approaches things. Whether or not she knows what she’s doing, she takes a breath and hurdles toward a goal like a wrecking ball of conviction. Of course, that typically means leaving a mess of disaster and destruction in her wake, but the armor of certainty she wears is, arguably, enviable. In the past, Yorke has quoted one of the show’s writers who characterizes Brooke as “strong and wrong.”
When season two starts, Cary and Brooke have finally started to win. Sort of.
After spending roughly 15 minutes as Chase’s manager at the end of season one, she decides to pursue music-managing full-time. She even swoops her hair to the left side and wears one dangly earring in her right ear, so you can tell.
Trying to discover the next Chase Dreams, however, amounts to all the glamor of sitting in a coffee shop scrolling through tweens singing on TikTok and messaging them, “Move to NYC. I’ll represent you.” Talent scouting at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party for a friend’s kid is a bust. A Google alert for “Beyoncé child gay drag” that finds her knocking on a stranger’s door in Queens is a disaster. Alessia Cara won’t even return her messages. (Never mind that they don’t know each other.)
Defeated, she agrees to co-manage her mother, Pat (a tour de force performance from Molly Shannon), who, riding the coattails of Chase’s popularity, landed her own talk show and now may actually be the next Oprah. A career in the daytime TV space is hardly the sexy vibe she had envisioned for herself. But years of judging and groaning at society’s lemmings and how they lap up corporate speak has made her surprisingly good at it.
Now she’s the co-manager of both her younger brother and her mother, and while money and being told that, legitimately, she’s done a fine job are a nice change of pace, it’s still a shock to learn what hard work and success actually means for her.
She can’t believe her good fortune, for example, when she gets invited to Vogue’s unveiling of the hitherto secret third Hadid sister. (Her new face hadn’t settled until now.) After years of party-crashing, she’s on the list. Only an endless conference call over what to name an online segment for her mom’s talk show—sponsored by Chex Mix—keeps her from breathing the Hadid air.
“People have this idea of where they want to make it, right?” Yorke says. “There’s this shining castle on the hill. And you kind of climb the hill and you get to the castle, and, like, maybe they don’t clean the toilets there. It’s not necessarily everything it’s cracked up to be. And then there’s always another hill in the distance that you want to climb.”
The goalpost is always moving, and you might not even notice. She uses the example of Reese Witherspoon, who recently sold her Hello Sunshine production company for $900 million. That’s the kind of crowning achievement that might have a person cheer, “That’s it! I did it! I’m done!” and then go for a nice swim in their vault of gold coins. But Witherspoon probably woke up the next day and thought, “What’s next?”
“It’s almost calming and relaxing to think that, if that’s the case, I should allow myself to relax and enjoy the moment,” Yorke says.
There’s something about the way millennials were groomed where “what’s next” sounds like a threat. That if you aren’t already calculating the next step, are on the way to reaching it, and anxious about whether or not you’re going to make it there by an arbitrary deadline, you’ve already failed. The idea of being satisfied where you are, or more intuitive about figuring out the future, is foreign.
Yorke remembers when she was cast in Bullets Over Broadway, which was directed by theater legend Susan Stroman and played at the St. James Theatre. It was a huge deal for her. She had seen The Producers there with her dad when she was 16. “I just remember thinking, this is a pinnacle moment in my life. I thought, wow, I’ve really made it. And then that show closed a little earlier than I thought it was going to. So that moves the goalposts again.”
If you had told her then that she would be starring in a TV series from the head writers of SNL, “I don’t think I would believe you,” she says. “It’s not that I don’t believe in myself. I think I do. I get asked a lot, ‘What’s next,’ and it’s like, I don’t know. I feel like I’m constantly getting surprised about what the next thing is.”
Put one foot in front of the other, and who knows what your top Google search result may one day be.