Spoilers ahead for Rutherford Falls Season 2.
Last year, we called Jesse Leigh, the "witchy nonbinary bestie we all need in our lives," and now the actor is back with even more cutting quips and fierce fashion on the new season of Rutherford Falls.
Peacock’s critically acclaimed comedy — co-created by Ed Helms, Mike Schur (The Good Place, Parks and Recreation), and Sierra Teller Ornelas (Superstore) — tells the story of Rutherford Falls, a small town in upstate New York bordering a Native American reservation. The quiet community gets a shake-up when residents petition to remove a statue of the town’s founder, and the personal and political collide.
One of Rutherford Falls’ residents is Bobbie Yang, played by Jesse Leigh, a nonbinary actor who previously appeared in Paramount Network’s reimagining of Heathers. Bobbie is the trusted assistant of Nathan Rutherford (Helms), but in the second season of the series, which just premiered on Peacock, Bobbie goes from assistant to running for mayor of the town. But of course, this is Rutherford Falls, so Bobbie's mayoral run comes with its share of hiccups and comedic hijinks.
Leigh spoke with Logo about their expanded role in the new season, how they topped their first season fashion, and how they received inspiration from Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton.
I love how Bobbie has a bigger role this season. Was that something the writers talked to you about beforehand, or did you find that out when you read the scripts for Season 2? How did that come about?
I got drinks with our showrunner Sierra Teller before we started filming Season 2. She asked me if I wanted to know Bobbie's storyline and I said, "Yes, of course. I have been waiting. I'm biting my fingernails, I'm so excited." She told me that Bobbie would be running for mayor of Rutherford Falls, and I lost it. I was gagged. I was completely gagged. It was so exciting to hear that. There's so much more for Bobbie Yang this season. We have such bigger shoes to fill and having a nonbinary, first-generation student run for local office, it's just perfect timing.
Speaking of shoes, let's talk about Bobbie's fashion because I loved your fashion on the first season. Did you feel that you had to do bigger? What was it like getting the outfits together for Season 2?
I really wanted to continue the '70s inspiration that we had from Season 1. But in Season 2, every look is, I feel, more elevated. There are a lot more suits. I'm running for mayor. The suits are all so gorgeous. We've got these really bright pink and purple suits that we get to see, and really fun shirts and boots. Yeah. It's a continuation of Season 1, but I'd say just more flare this season.
It seems like your hair is bigger too.
The hair is bigger, yes. I have more secrets. It's just how I would normally rock my hair in everyday life. It was definitely more comfortable wearing it this way. It's a continuation [from my Season 1 hair] but a little more improved.
In the season premiere, you think the [Rutherford Falls Heritage] museum is haunted. What are your thoughts on ghosts? Do you believe in them?
I totally believe in ghosts. I am all up for pulling out a Ouija Board and trying to connect with spirits. My friends are a little more timid, but I love a good horror movie about ghosts. I definitely believe they're out there.
When we spoke last year, you said that you were trying to fill out your crystal collection. How is that going?
It's great. This year, for Chinese New Year, it's the Year of the Tiger. I got two jade tigers that are on either side of my bed. They're just giving me a bunch of good luck for this year.
In the new season Bobbie is really into makeup tutorials. Did you watch a bunch of them to prepare?
Yeah, I am such a big consumer of makeup tutorials. I watch them every week. I have a few favorite makeup gurus that I love watching their videos. I channel that into Bobbie Yang's makeup tutorials, especially because this is Bobbie's way of connecting with their audience and also trying to gain more constituents for running for office.
When Bobbie's running for mayor, did you also watch any political speeches? Did it make you look at politics any different? How did you go about preparing for that storyline?
Yes, I watched a bunch of Hillary Clinton debate videos. I just wanted to study her mannerisms and how she reacted to her opponents. Watching Hillary Clinton's videos, I was definitely able to channel that to Bobbie's reaction. Bobbie keeps being very professional, especially when they are on stage, but there is an occasional eye roll or glance of course, in Bobbie's fashion.
In the new season you get put into some costumes, where did that come from?
Oh my gosh. I love dressing up in costumes and just creating a whole look. We have a Halloween episode towards the end of the season, and Bobbie dresses up as Kim Kardashian from the Met Gala. They had a very long train and a very huge ponytail. That was actually one of my favorite episodes to film because everyone was in costume. It was a night shoot and there is also a fight sequence. The whole cast was there. It felt like a celebration for filming the end of Season 2.
When you think back to playing Bobbie at the beginning of Season 1, what are the biggest differences you see in that character over all of these episodes?
Bobbie just has much bigger shoes to fill this season, running for mayor and going against [political] opponents. Bobbie has some really fun big scenes, and the big prep scenes with Terry Thomas, played by Michael Greyeyes. It was just such a pleasure working with him one on one, and getting to have this mentor-mentee dynamic. Bobbie is known for their quick one-liners, but this season they have a lot more dialogue to carry.
Last year when we talked, you talked about how Chromatica helped you get through the pandemic. I was just wondering, what music are you into lately?
Well, I'm still in my Chromatica phase. I'm still in that era, of course. I'm even going to the Chromatica Ball this year. Lately I've been catching up on Legendary Season 3. I've been listening to a bunch of Kim Petras and Charli XCX. I also just watched Fire Island, which I loved.
Have nonbinary kids and queer kids reached out to you? How's that been?
Yeah. I've received so much love from Twitter and Instagram DMs. Without going into specifics, I received one DM from a young nonbinary fan. They were saying that they watched Rutherford Falls with their mom, and to see a character like Bobbie Yang just be themselves and be their best self and flourish, and be bold and authentic. It really helped them come out to their mom. It's such a great example to have a character who is not overshadowed by their traumatic experiences and instead lives their best life. We don't really see that, on television especially. It's super important that we have these characters that younger audiences can look up to.
Rutherford Falls is streaming now on Peacock.