‘The Traitors’ EP Hopes to Cast ‘Vanderpump Rules,’ More Sports Stars in Season 3: ‘Comedy Is Key’

Toni Ireland breaks down Season 2’s buzziest surprises and exits ahead of the Peacock competition show’s finale

The Traitors - Season 2
Trishelle Cannatella, Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello, Shereé Whitfield on "The Traitors" Season 2 (Photo by: Euan Cherry/Peacock)

As “The Traitors” Season 2 captivates the cultural zeitgeist, the Peacock show hopes to keep the momentum in its third installment by casting even more sports stars and reality personalities — potentially including the cast of “Vanderpump Rules.”

“Comedy is key in this … [we want] people that give you the incredible sound bites in their master interviews,” EP Toni Ireland told TheWrap. “You want people like C.T. [Tamburello] that are brilliant at the challenges, but you’ve got to have people with heart and warmth. You’ve got to have players the viewers are rooting for whether you’re a faithful fan or a traitor fan.”

Ireland added that “some more sports people would be great” after featuring Ryan Lochte in Season 1 and professional boxer Deontay Wilder (even though he quit) in Season 2. She also revealed the executive producers are “always” considering the buzzy stars of Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules” for the show.

“They would always be talked about. I know lots and lots of viewers would request that as well,” Ireland said. “They’re always in consideration for us.”

While the competition show’s first season, which featured a mix of civilians and celebrities, was well-received, Season 2 became the reality event of the season thanks to a cadre of reality talent — from “Survivor” stars Parvati Shallow and Sandra Diaz-Twine to “Real Housewives” royalty in Phaedra Parks and Tamra Judge — and captivating gameplay.

“The game itself is quite addictive to watch, because it’s a massive game of cat and mouse,” Ireland said. “Whether you’re on the side of the faithful or the traitors, it’s quite easy to be gripped by the game constantly.”

Looking ahead to Season 3, the EPs are aiming to maintain the show’s level of drama and strategy, while also prioritizing levity and humor as a throughline.

“We need to keep the warmth for the show,” Ireland reiterated. “The show can be really dramatic and all about murders and punishments, but at its heart, it’s a funny show.”

Below, Ireland breaks down Wilder’s unexpected departure, how the EPs chose the initial set of traitors and unpacks why former “Bachelor” Peter Weber was the show’s “biggest surprise.”

TheWrap: Did you expect Season 2 to become as buzzy as it has?

Toni Ireland: We knew it was brilliant, but we’re addicted to this show. We’re obsessed with this show while we’re making it. You can never tell what’s going to happen, what’s going to hit. It going out early in the year is great after the festivities and everyone’s looking for something to watch. It going out weekly as well has been great, because you have time to catch up to discuss it with your friends, and then to get ready for the next one.

When it comes to casting, what types of reality stars did you look for? How did you curate a good mix of personalities?

We knew that we wanted like classic game players — your Dans and your Parvatis and your Sandras. We wanted those people that have proved they’re brilliant at strategy. But then within that mix, you don’t want 22 cast members that are all the same. You want a variety. Then, we’re looking at the “Housewives” that are bringing comedy. What’s been so amazing is that the players that you presumed would be incredible at strategy, maybe haven’t been as strong as the people that you underestimate, like Phaedra — I don’t know if going into this, anybody thought that she would play the game like she did, and it was brilliant and so refreshing.

You didn’t pick the traitors until a couple hours before the roundtable so you could observe their behavior in the castle. Were you already thinking of selecting Dan [Gheesling] and Phaedra as traitors and what sealed the deal?

We have an idea of who we think would make great choices, and when they meet with Alan [Cumming], that gives us a really great idea of whether they want to be a traitor. It wouldn’t make sense to force someone to be a traitor, we want to select people that really relish that role. Who could argue with Phaedra? She’s so charming, and that is one of the key elements to being a great traitor, so I think we knew then that we had to select her.

Euan Cherry/Peacock

Did you expect them to choose to add Parvati? Had you thought of her as a traitor?

Yes, we had considered Parvati, but we wanted to mix in those traitors, we didn’t want three strategists as the traitors — we wanted to make sure there was a mix of types of contestants in there.

Fans were also sad to see Deontay exit early. Why did he ultimately choose to leave?

We’re always aware that it’s quite an emotional show and all the players were really close, and had great friendships in there. It can really take its toll, and he’s spoken about it bringing up past feelings. We don’t hold our cast captive, if people decide the show’s not for them, that’s absolutely fine, and we totally respect that. He left on great terms with us, and I’m sure he’ll be at the reunion.

We’ve also heard some criticism to bring in Kate Chastain so late in the game. Did you consider bringing her in earlier and why did you land on bringing her in later on?

At the start would have been far too early. We try to make sure that any twists and turns are really spread out across the season. We had the amazing poisoned chalice twist, and we wanted that to happen and for that to settle before we threw any other twists in there. This format is so strong and so brilliant as a natural game, the audience sees through it when you put too many twists in.

You have a handful of cast members who have longstanding friendships. How did that enhance the show and is that something you’re hoping to continue?

One of my favorite stories across the whole season is actually C.T. and Trishelle [Cannatella], because they’ve got this longstanding friendship and they’ve worked together before. I think it really enhances the show, and I think that’s something that we would look for in seasons to come.

Peter really brought some strategy to the game. Did you expect him to step up in this way?

Peter, for me, is probably the biggest surprise of the series and I absolutely loved watching him play this game. The day he came up with his shield strategy, we sat open mouth as this played out.

Did you always intend on giving Peter a choice to join the Traitors? Were you surprised by his decision?

The players at that stage always have a choice — it’s up to the traitors to decide who they want to try and seduce to join them. When they read the rules of the seduction, they know that they can either accept or refuse. It was quite clearly a no, so that’s fair play.

Have you considered bringing some alum from this season to next season?

Never say never. We’re in pre-production at the moment, so those ideas are all getting thrashed out at the moment, and then we’ll choose the absolute best to go in the show.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

“The Traitors” Season 2 finale premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on Peacock.


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