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The Traitors Executive Producers & Alan Cumming Spill the Scottish Tea About Making Season 2

The Traitors Season 2 finale is just around the corner, so now it's time to get answers on how the season evolved.

By Tara Bennett
Alan Cumming on episode 206 of The Traitors

As The Traitors Season 2 barrels toward its breathtaking conclusion, it's a good time as any to pull back the curtain on how this season has grown the show's mythology and ambition in the wake of such success. While audiences get to see the fruits of the producer's bold casting, diabolical challenges, and psychological pressure-cooker scenarios on screen, there's more that audiences don't get to see while they're in the trenches making the proverbial sausage. 

RELATED: The Traitors Creators Tease Season 3 Casting & More: "I've Stopped Looking at my DMs"

Curious to get some of our own questions answered about Season 2, NBC Insider sat down for exclusive one-on-one interviews with The Traitors executive producers Stephen Lambert and Sam Rees-Jones, who are two of the big brains behind both the U.K. and the U.S. versions of the show, and host/producer Alan Cumming, who holds court each week overseeing the Faithful and Traitors, to address some burning issues.

How much does Alan Cumming have to do with creating his monologues?

Alan Cumming on The Traitors Episode 201

Aside from his signature purr of "muuurderrr," Alan Cumming has endeavored to make each of his episodic appearances feel momentous with his fashion-forward looks and mellifluous words, which set the stage for the drama to come. And Cumming told NBC Insider that he's very proud to be the one to introduce that delicious language to the show going back to Season 1.

RELATED: The Traitors Season 2 Is the No. 1 Reality Show Across Streaming

"In the first season, none of the kind of florid quotes and Shakespearean everything was in the script," Cumming shared. "I collaborate on the script with them. I had put those in, and kind of had to battle a little bit with everybody to say, 'This is my character. Let's try this.' Whereas now this year, they brought me those [lines] I think to push the theatricality of it, and the heightened nature of me and the character.

"The whole game is theatrical with a bit of surprise and smoke and mirrors, literally," he added, laughing. "So I think it was just a confidence to just push it even further."

How do the producers determine the best potential candidates for the season?

Sandra Diaz-Twine, Peter Weber, Phaedra Parks, John Bercow, Mercedes “MJ” Javid, Parvati Shallow, Kevin Kreider, Kate Chastain, Trishelle Cannatella, Shereé Whitfield, and Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello sit at the roundtable

At the recent Television Critics Association press day for The Traitors, Sam Rees-Jones revealed to reporters that the show conducts a personality test with every contestant before they go into the production of the show to determine the best candidates to play Traitor. 

"It's hard and it's taxing," he described of the pressure that weighed on the Traitors. "Alan also has chats with them, which we didn't do in Season 1. Those chats actually gave us a lot of information as well. We didn't actually pick who the Traitors were until a couple of hours before the Roundtable when Alan taps them on the shoulder. So we're really seeing how they are on that first day as well."

In our own chat, Rees-Jones elaborated that the personality tests assess strengths and weaknesses but never seek to break the contestants. "Nothing has been thrown out in that testing that's made [us] think, 'Oh God, we won't be able to put that person through that particular mission,'" he confirmed of their use.

How to make a mission difficult but not physically dangerous for the players

Trishelle Cannatella is seen at The Traitors Experience on January 11, 2024

Bugs, burials, and boulder rolling. Across two seasons now, The Traitors missions have proven themselves to be a smörgåsbord of tests to show just how committed the players are to winning lots of money — or protecting their own hides. Both seasons have put players in coffins and asked them to just stew in the dark, which for a lot of people would be an ask too far. 

Rees-Jones said they vette their missions with psychologists and a welfare team to ensure nothing they craft is harmful. "That takes paramount over having entertainment within a mission," he assured.

RELATED: The Traitors: A Timeline of C.T. and Trishelle's Complicated, Long-Time Relationship

"But as far as physicality, we make sure that the missions can be done by any age or ability," he continued. "You can do as much as you want in the mission. And because we create missions for the U.K. show as well, there's such a wide variety. The physicality is the important aspect, but the story is probably more so. We're happy with how the story moved on within the missions, and missions having impact, which [is] something that we want to keep expanding on and building on for Season 3 and onwards."

Lambert added, "We're trying to make the missions more integral to the narrative of the episode. Because if they're not, then they become skippable. I think we're getting better at that."

Is there a method for how the survivors enter the breakfast room?

The Traitors's Trishelle and Parvati sit together

One of the most fun sequences of every episode before the finale is the big breakfast reveal of who got murdered the night before by the Traitors. Rees-Jones said the order of how the survivors come into the room is something they study and like to "vary up" from episode to episode.

Lambert said the first people to come in the room are invariably the most interesting to capture. "They're gonna have, effectively, a private conversation," he said of that important empty room chat. "Sometimes it's two Traitors that are there first. Sometimes it's two vulnerable Faithful, who are very much [in trouble]. Probably the most interesting bit is who the first people in are, then also who is the last."

If a banished player gets Big Mad, are there precautions in place to protect the game?

Dan Gheesling on episode 206 of The Traitors

We're all human and it's easy to see how players might get caught up in the game of it all, and forget themselves when they're banished or murdered. But if a player decided to light the game on fire with their exit, is the show prepared to contain that to save the rest of the game?

"There's robust rules for the players that protects the integrity," Rees-Jones confirmed. "The integrity of the game is the most important thing. And it's the thing that if something happens that isn't within the rules of the game, then that's no good."

Lambert continued: "I think also the temptation for a Traitor who's been banished to reveal who the other Traitors are gets stronger as you get toward the end of each season. A lot of effort and energy is put into making it quite clear for Traitors that that's not allowed.

"Certainly, in the first British season, somebody was in that position. They sailed very close to the edge," he added, referring to Kieran Tompsett's actions in Series 1. "The term 'parting gifts' became a famous meme."

And last but never least, where are Fergus and Lala?

Deontay Wilder, Alan Cumming and Alan's dog Lala on The Traitors Episode 201

As we all know, two of The Traitor's superstars remain silent mysteries to us, the audience. Yes, we speak of groundskeeper Fergus (played by actor John Ritchie) and Alan's gorgeous rescue pooch, Lala. When asked about them both, Cumming lit up about his rival scene stealers. 

RELATED: Alan Cumming Reveals What It's Like Behind the Scenes of Traitors Season 2

Cumming assured that Fergus does indeed speak ... and sing!

"He and I did a concert," Cumming revealed. "[John] and his wife ... they came to my show. And then he came to the party afterward. And it's so funny because some of my band and some friends were from America. And one said, 'Who's that?' I said, 'That's Fergus from The Traitors.' He said, 'Fergus is coming!' And I'm like, 'Oh, hello. Alan Cumming...here,'" he joked, pointing to himself. "They were so excited to meet Fergus. He's actually in it less this season. But when he does come on, everyone's like, 'Ooh! There's Fergus!' It's so great."

As for Lala, who sometimes appears at the rare mission in quiet observation of the silly humans, Cumming said, "Honestly, last week, when I was doing voiceover, [the engineer] said, 'Lala?' And I said, 'I know, we need more Lala content. Everyone on the internet's telling us.'"

Season 2 of The Traitors is ongoing, and new episodes are available to stream every Thursday at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET on Peacock alongside The Traitors: Postmortem aftershow. All of Season 1 is already available to watch on Peacock. 

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