The Inverse Interview

“There’s No Book Club?!” Yellowjackets Star Warren Kole is Happy to Be a Meme

The Yellowjackets star reveals what it's like being a meme, how his character's changed, and his forgotten Marvel role.


“What? There’s no book club??”

There’s no greater encapsulation of Warren Kole’s Yellowjackets character Jeff Sadecki than his most famous scene: a faithful husband, baffled not by the fact that his wife (Melanie Lynskey) cheated on him, but by the fact she lied and said she was at book club.

“Maybe he is a little gullible. Maybe he's a little oblivious. But he's also fiercely loyal and very accepting of Shauna and her past,” Kole tells Inverse.

Over the course of the massively popular first season, Jeff went from the husband Shauna was sure was cheating on her to bamboozled cuckold in over his head in debt. By the time the season ended, he was establishing a cover story for Shauna’s murder of her boy toy Adam Martin — just like any man would do for the woman he loved. Now, in Season 2, he’s got to stand by his wife’s side ... and try to rebuild his self-respect.

“Jeff’s like a Labrador who just wants to be a show dog.”

Though there may not have been a book club in the series, there is sort of one in Kole’s life: He’s currently reading Yuval Noah Harari’s history and social philosophy book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind along with his girlfriend. (They previously read Slaughterhouse Five together).

“I like to have intellectual discussions about [books] because it gets you thinking,” Kole says.

It’s clear in how he speaks of Jeff that Kole is the kind of person you’d want in your very real book club: insightful, lighthearted, with a passion for character and story.

Inverse spoke to Kole about Jeff, his red herring moment, his story in Season 2, and the roles in his past.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and/or brevity.

“There’s no book club?!?!”


Did you play Jeff knowing his true nature all along, or did you try and keep it more ambiguous as he went?

I gotta be true to the character. Once you start playing something that you know isn't true, you can get yourself in a lot of trouble, and maybe cheat your audience even. But the writers take care of that mystery so well, as you can tell, it's an excellent creative team working on this thing. I just had to play what I knew: Jeff definitely had a secret life that he was working on. We didn't know what it was. Something was rotten. It just turns out, it wasn't what we suspected.

What's it like being a meme now?

I think it's my first. Something that delicious, that's all credit, again, to timing, humor, and discovery summed up perfectly in that line. It wasn't just a good line, it revealed a lot about who Jeff was. That's all credit to the writing. I read it and was just like, “don't try too hard. Just go with it. When the line comes up, the line comes up.”

We probably did it five, six, seven times. Melanie [Lynskey,] bless her heart, couldn't keep a straight face, so we all knew it was going to be good. But I mean, there was a subtler take, like “Wait a minute, man, you know, hang on a second, let's back up. There's no book club?” And then there was just a shock of it, which was a much better reading of that line that they stuck with. We nailed it.

What was it like watching the slow and then very, very fast building of the Yellowjackets fandom?

That's the old-fashioned way! That was really cool. It validates how good the show is, because there wasn't a lot of gloss to pump it up and make it something that it wasn't to get attention. It let the people give it the street credit that it deserves. That honest, real building of a fan base is very satisfying, because you know it's sincere.

Melanie Lynskey as Shauna and Warren Kole as Jeff in Yellowjackets Season 1.

Did you feel the potential of the show while you were on set in the first season?

When I read the script, I was like, “this is really good.” This is a story where there's a clear vision on the part of the creators that comes across the page. They are confident they know what it's like, they know, “This is the show we have and this is how we're going to tell the story.” The characters were all individuals and their interactions and dialogue were meaningful. It was important to be specific, it shed light on what each personality was, and you could tell that they had a healthy sense of humor that they could inject even into dark material.

I had all the confidence in the world. I just wasn't sure how they're gonna weave it all together into a show until I saw what they did. They did a fantastic job of stitching everything together and made it really unique.

Your scenes are sort of divorced from the scenes in the wilderness. Do you have keep tabs on what goes on in those scenes?

I was very attentive about reading everything that happened in the wilderness because I knew that Jeff had read Shauna's journals very early on, and that's insight. So as I saw it, reading the script was kind of like Jeff reading Shauna’s journal. It was really vital that I knew all that stuff.

Kole as Dave Goodkind in Prime Video’s The Wilds, another series about a group of teen girls stranded after a plane crash.

Prime Video

How has Jeff changed from Season 1 to Season 2?

I think once Episode 7 rolled around in Season 1, I was able to root Jeff with some of those scenes, like the visiting Jackie's parents with Shauna, that lent a lot of insight into the character. When he comes clean and there’s that mutual confession between him and Shauna and they are just airing out the dirty laundry and clearing the smoke, they’re finally looking at each other for who they are with open eyes. That's despite how disturbing that is what Jeff discovers, you know, his wife is unsatisfied with him, his wife is homicidal. That's upsetting. He already kind of knew that, it's just a shame that she might be reconstituting into that person.

His ego might be grappling with the fact that she sought affection from another man. He might feel like he has to prove himself. He has to hold this world together. They all have to survive this thing and be partners in crime, but he also needs to prove that he's worthy of Shauna's love. He's just as exciting and interesting as the guy that she was with, but whether he can meet that expectation of himself is another question.

I think that's where it gets interesting, and where the fun is in Season 2. Jeff's a very reactive character, and because of that, you get “there's no book club,” and probably a few more meme-worthy lines coming in Season 2.

He's trying. Jeff’s like a Labrador who just wants to be a show dog. He wants to be a German Shepherd, but he's just not, and that's tough to accept.

Warren Kole as Bridge Tech (aka, the guy Tony Stark calls out for playing Galaga) in The Avengers.

Marvel Studios

You were in another recent teen girl’s survival show, The Wilds. How did working on both of those shows differ? Why do you think that these kinds of shows are so popular right now?

I think that this kind of show hits a nerve and finds popularity because it's adolescent. It's a coming of age and its own way, it's this analysis of society's constructs when they're there and when they're not there and how to deal with that. They're very raw, and that's always going to speak to people, no matter what decade you're in.

How I managed to be in both of those is a little uncanny of a coincidence, but they're just really different shows in terms of tone and style. Yellowjackets is a bit more of a pastiche than The Wilds was. The Wilds was filmed in New Zealand, that's the biggest memory I have, just tooling around New Zealand and exploring that country.

To go way back into your resume a decade ago, you were in The Avengers. Did you think it was gonna be this huge powerhouse franchise it is now?

Joss [Whedon] asked me to do that. It was just a bit role, but I was happy to do it.

But you looked at the size of the sets and the star power ... I was walking around the trailers, just outside of Albuquerque. You're brushing shoulders with all of these actors that are in it. And you can feel the atmosphere is that of a huge thing. It's going to be tough for this not to be a hit. But I had no idea it would be everything from that point on in terms of the theater. Marvel took over and made tentpole movies.

Would you come back to the MCU?

Would I go back and do a Marvel movie? Yeah. I'm sure if you ask people who have really been involved in them, you're gonna get a more substantial answer. But yeah, I definitely would. It’s a lot of fun, doing stuff like that.

Yellowjackets is now streaming on Showtime.

Related Tags