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My Casting Story: Kurt Yaeger on ‘Another Life’

When we last spoke with Kurt Yaeger, he was filming the second season of Netflix’s sci-fi series Another Life. Now with the recent news that the series won’t be returning for a third — and with many fans feeling the show was canceled too soon — we wanted to virtually sit down with the actor again. Yaeger took time out from filming a feature in Atlanta to share with us the casting story that started his eight-episode journey on Another Life and why it was such an impactful experience.


It’s great to virtually see you again, Kurt. To kick things off, I’d love to hear how you’d sum up the character of Dillon Conner.

Dillon is essentially a tough guy with a heart. You see his journey through season two as he becomes more concerned with some of the softer things in life. I think that’s a tribute to the writers and how they made the character grow towards something more than just a one-dimensional “jarhead” type. It was nice to play that arc, and Dillon had some really beautiful moments throughout the season. One example is a scene he shares with a character named Cas during a time when she’s really struggling. Dillon’s trying to help her but feels like they’re not connecting and turns to leave. Before he can, though, Cas reaches out to grab his hand. It’s something so rudimentary — not like a full-blown sex scene — but it means everything to them in that moment of pain and was really powerful.


I know exactly the scene you’re referencing, and it’s fascinating to hear an inside perspective on it. Now, let’s take it back to the very beginning of your journey with Another Life. What can you tell us about the process of booking the role for the series’ second season? 

The audition came through Erin Grush, who’s the head of the New York department for my agency, CESD. I felt connected to the character right away — it was just like I knew him. I’ll normally do one take for a self-tape, but this time, I did it two different ways. For the first one, I played it like Dillon was getting a little worried and it was starting to show. In the second, I had him holding it together in front of everyone, not showing any fear. So, I sent in both takes, and we got a call a couple of weeks later that the director wanted to virtually meet with me for another read. I asked what his notes were, and the reply was so great. He said, “We loved everything — just do it in the middle.” [Laughs] I didn’t know exactly what that meant, so I decided to play a moment where he’s concerned and then a moment where he’s totally calm. I didn’t do anything extra for the rest of it.


And that was the whole casting process for the series regular role — just a self-tape and a Zoom session?

Yes, I think that happens the more you work because they can look at what you’ve done already. But right after I booked the role of Dillon and the contract was negotiated, Covid hit. I’d been all set to fly to Vancouver and start filming — I had the plane ticket and everything. They said we’d hold off for a couple of days, which turned into weeks and then months. It started to feel like the second season wasn’t going to happen, and I was really bummed thinking I was going to miss out on the series regular role because it had a lot of weight to it and a good arc. But they pushed through, and we were finally able to film it. I flew to Vancouver and spent two weeks quarantining before the shoot. I was starting to pace around the little hotel room like a caged lion by the end of it, but it was of course all worth it.


It’s inspiring to hear your casting story and how you were still able to play the meaty role you’d booked, even after the initial onslaught of the pandemic. And now with the recent news that Another Life won’t be returning for a third season, how did it feel to say goodbye to the show?

I could say I’m sad that I didn’t get another season to see where the character was going, and I will definitely miss getting to work with [showrunner] Aaron Martin and [writer] Sean Reycraft and all the other amazing writers. But there was just so much good that came out of my time on the show that it’s hard to be upset. It’s like being mad that you only got 12 cookies instead of 24. [Laughs] You know what I mean? You still got to eat 12 cookies.


[Laughs] That is a fantastic metaphor.

But seriously, how can you be sad when you got to work with the powerhouse that is Katee Sackhoff? She was amazing and not only the captain of the ship on Another Life but also of the show, itself. When you have a lead like Katee, who’s such a pro with a good attitude, it sort of sets the standard for everyone else. This isn’t a case of some “everyone was just wonderful” bullsh-t — they were all genuinely good people. I became friends with a lot of them, including Elizabeth Faith Ludlow and A.J. Rivera. He and I became close to the point where I stayed at his house and watched his cats when he went on a quick vacation. We started playing a lot of disc golf together in Vancouver while shooting the show, and now we have a group that goes and plays together in LA. A.J.’s just one of the fantastic human beings I met through Another Life, which never would’ve happened without season two, so I’m happy to have been a part of it.


I love that perspective. And before we wrap, can you share how playing Dillon on the series has impacted your career?

Playing Dillon was a special experience because Aaron was really open to my input about the juxtaposition of a character with a disability who’s also extremely athletic and fit. I worked my ass off to be in shape for the role, to get an eight-pack. My argument is that people with disabilities aren’t generally portrayed in film and TV as being sexy. Rather, they tend to be infantilized and treated like children, or just sad people in general. But in reality, millions of people with disabilities are out there living life, going out eating and drinking and having sex. They’re very much having the full range of life experiences, but we don’t see that portrayed on screen. So, I told Aaron that if we did it the right way, I was willing to do fully nude scenes to show a different side of a character with a disability. I received feedback from viewers who were surprised to see an amputee in good shape. There were a lot of messages from people interested in me romantically, too, which was flattering. And then other amputees were reaching out, too, telling me they were encouraged to see a character with a disability portrayed that way.


It sounds like it was a very impactful role.

It was, and some nice opportunities came after it, as well. Right after season two of Another Life, I shot episodes of The Good Doctor and then SEAL Team. I also filmed my buddy Josh Sundquist’s show for Apple TV+. They don’t have a title for it yet, but it’s about his experience growing up as a person with one leg. I’m currently working on The Beanie Bubble with Zach Galifianakis in which I’m playing the husband of Elizabeth Banks’ character. So, I think people must have seen my work in Another Life because a lot of opportunities came right after it. Plus, my friend Alex Barone and I made a sketch-comedy web series called The Tommy & Bobby Show about two half-brothers from Massachusetts who drink beer in their mom’s basement. That’s been a fun experience to create and star in, as well as an interesting window into casting.


Those interested in learning more about the actor’s time filming season two of Another Life can check out his Instagram page, which includes some behind-the-scenes footage from the set. And additional information on the actor can be found on his official site.

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

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