There was a lot we didn’t see on The Mole season six, aka Netflix season one, which is true of all reality TV shows, but even more obvious during The Mole’s 10 episodes, which did not give us any time with the players outside of their tests and interview-room accusations.
That left me with questions about everything from journals to Joi’s vote for Will, casting to casual time with Alex Wagner.
To find out more about what we did not see—and more about what we did—I talked to The Mole winner Will Richardson, runner-up Joi Schweitzer, and mole Kesi Neblett about their experience.
During a 20-minute group video interview, they discussed missions that were omitted from the show, including ones that made Joi suspect Will and why she did ultimately voted for him as the mole; their knowledge of the American and Belgian seasons of The Mole; and about their connection with each other.
Did they watch The Mole?
Joi: “I was a fan of the original series. I watched a couple of the original series and I loved it. So when I found out that I was cast for the show, I was thrilled.”
Kesi: “When I knew I was going to be on The Mole, I watched the Belgian Mole, and I watched the season with Lennart. Lennart is kind of the OG mole because no one voted for him until the final three, and that was really incredible to see.”
Will: “I’ve never been a big reality TV guy, and once I found out about the show, and I was getting further along in the process for the final casting, I was like, I should probably do a little bit more research. So I just started with Anderson Cooper’s seasons, and I started watching from episode one on. It really is one of those things where every season is different, every player is different, so you have to take that into consideration.”
Were they cast or recruited?
Joi: I have a health and fitness/inspirational [Instagram] page where I share my story of becoming an airline pilot; I’m a fitness enthusiast, fitness influencer. Casting reached out to me; they were very impressed with my page. I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this.
Will: “Mine was the old-fashioned DM slide on Instagram. It was basically just a casting producer. I remember the line. He was like, I’m looking at a sheet that has you written all over it, from head to toe. It’s everything they’re looking for. And he was like, I can almost guarantee this is for you. And I was like, Say less, let’s rock!
Kesi: “So I never had an Instagram until recently, so no one slid into my DMs. I am historically a software developer, and the day after I quit my job, one of my really good friends from high school messaged me and said, Hey, like, show? I think you’d be great on it. And I remember sitting with my brother and laughing because the juxtaposition of these two occurrences seemed supernatural in a way. And I was just thinking, You know what, why not? I have the time. As Joi said, life is about being bold and taking risks, so I took it.”
Did they want to be the mole?
Kesi: “Oh, heck no! They asked me three times and the first two times I said no, because it just seemed not like the person that I was. I didn’t know how to do that. How do you be the mole? Who teaches you that? And the last time they asked me, my mom’s words came to my mind: You can do anything if you have time and resources. So I told them, You know what, if I have the time to prepare for this, I think I can do it. After a really deep dive into psychology, and John le Carré’s espionage novels, and probability and statistics, we created something pretty cool.”
Will: “From my understanding, they brought the possibility to every single cast member, and when they first asked, [my] competitive nature was like, I’ll do whatever you guys want me to do. I was like, I don’t know if it would be as fun because my new competitive nature would be sabotaging. And that’s not as fun as being able to go 100% on all these challenges. But I didn’t turn the idea down. I was like, whatever you guys think the role for me would be best in, is what I’d be willing to do. But I’m ultimately very happy that I was able to be a competitor.”
Joi: “Yeah, I agree with Will. I am a competitor, so I said no right away. I didn’t want that responsibility. I knew I would be away for my husband and son, and I could not speak to them, and I knew that will be very difficult as well. Because I vent to my husband all the time and we share everything, that would have been a challenge not being able to disclose that information to him. And then, just, it’s not in my nature. No, I wanted to win the money.”
Was being the mole harder or easier than Kesi expected?
Kesi: “I wouldn’t say it was more or less difficult—I kind of anticipated needing to be able to adapt, and that was exactly on par. I had to adapt so many times, especially understanding how the players were thinking. I thought, for example, that people would switch their votes a lot. I thought that people would change who they were suspecting. And that didn’t really happen once people honed in on one suspect, they really didn’t switch. So it’s tiny things about that, and studying the cast, that were very surprising.”
I asked Kesi when she first knew that one or more players suspected she could be the mole.
Kesi: “I think the most dynamic person that was on to me was Will, and I remember—normally, when Will and I are together, we’re just joking. We’re like kids; it’s super playful, super fun. And I remember right before the vote that he [voted] 50/50 on me [and another player], he was giving me the side eye.”
Will: “People don’t understand that there’s a lot of time where you’re down, and this is the person I was always with. Part of my game strategy was: I want to get as close to the person as I’m suspicious of. Then you don’t realize how that backfires when the closest person that you are is trying to stab you in the back the whole time. I’ll never really like forget the moment: She knows I’m voting for her, I know I’m voting for her, and I went and I asked her a question, and she was so reluctant to tell me because she was mad at me for voting for her. You could just feel it. It was this weird dynamic: You’re mad at me because you’re the mole!; That’s crazy!“
Kesi: “But I would also say he was probably mad at me for a moment for being the mole.”
Will: “Yeah. Once I figured it out, 100%, when I was voting, I was like, wow, it’s great. Even though you always have this suspicion, in your head you’re 100% positive, you’re like, this little mother…”
When did Will suspect Kesi—and why didn’t Joi?
Will: “My face gave it away. If you watch them the mountain mission, I promise you I’m not that good of an actor—that’s been all over Twitter, that Will’s [an actor]. No, I’m not; I can’t control my facial expressions. And when Casey went home, that was my first 50/50 quiz. I went 50 Kesi, 50 Casey, and when you watch your 50% get eliminated, it’s an aha moment, because you’re like, Oh my god, I have it figured out, but at the same time, you’re like, what just happened? It’s a terrifying moment, because you’re never positive. That sudden moment where you get this burst of—I did it, I figured it out. That was that moment right there, and everybody watched it on my face.”
Joi: “So after Jacob went home, my gut was telling me it was Kesi. We worked a couple of missions together and I knew she was sabotaging, but I thought Sandy went home on a Kesi vote, but I got my weeks mixed up, and that confused me. I also thought Will would be the perfect mole, because I thought he was masking the competitive side of him. A lot of missions were omitted, so you don’t see the ball being dropped. But yeah, it nipped me in the butt at the end because my gut wanted me to choose Kesi, but I didn’t.”
What were interviews like?
Will: “It was kind of like a venting hour, to be completely honest with you. You are by yourself all the time, but most of time you’re gonna write your thoughts down. But this was a moment where you get to say them out loud, so in that process, you go through and they ask you about every single contestant, every single mission—what do you think so and so did here? When you talk it out loud, you start being able to form these kind of processes for yourself. For me, it was actually super helpful A) for my mental health, to be able to get it off my chest about how I was feeling, but then to B) be able to talk some things through.”
Joi: “Yeah, I echo that. Absolutely. It was cathartic for me to get everything off my chest. It felt good leaving the confessionals. They were like therapists in a way, so it was fun to get it off my chest.”
Kesi: “I would say confessionals for me were super weird just because I can never actually confess, I only could tell stories from a perspective, that wasn’t really my perspective. So it felt like story time in a way, and I was telling the story about another girl that’s named Kesi that’s a player and not the mole.”
I asked Kesi if she the producer interviewing her knew she was the mole.
Kesi: “All the interviews I did, the producers did not know. I remember my first IV, I legitimately was nervous that I would just blurt it out. I was like, Well, I just say it? If they asked me if I’m the mole, would I have just said yes? But then, as time went on, that doesn’t happen, so I got less worried that I would reveal myself on accident.”
Did the players have journals and take notes?
Will: “I see that question a lot from people who watched the original shows, and the mole journals used to be—we had them. It had the mole logo and everything. I promise you: People were very, very diligent about these things. But thanks to Joi here, part of my game strategy was—I figured out pretty early that Joi was voting for me, so I stopped taking notes…”
Joi: “That messed me up!”
Will: “…because I know Joi was like, Will doesn’t take notes. Will doesn’t need to because it doesn’t matter; Will’s vote doesn’t count. So there’s parts where I’m like, Damn, what was Kesi wearing? I can’t write it down because Joi’s looking at me. I’m waiting until Joi’s not around to [ask people]. I stopped using my journal, because I knew that was a big thing for Joi.”
Joi: “That was good. That was a good move. Good for you.”
What was host Alex Wagner like?
Kesi: “Alex Wagner has this very contagious grace and engagement that, even though we weren’t spending that much time with her off screen, when we’re on screen, she just kind of knows how to ask questions and get information out of us. She was very good at maintaining our dramatic moments, and kind of letting them flow, but not get too crazy.”
Will: “We see all the comments on Twitter. The dinners used to be very different dynamic. We had those—I promise. We had extensive dinners. That’s where we spent most of our time with Alex, and she is so funny, clever, witty. Watching the banter between other players and herself—she was a phenomenal host and it was a privilege to be able to work with her.”
Joi: “I agree. I loved Alex. I loved her wardrobe. She has such a swag about her. And like Kesi said, she got to the nitty-gritty. She would ask the questions and put us on the spot. She’s very, very good at what she does. She’s an excellent reporter. So I’m so glad we had Alex as the host.”
What are their relationships like with other players?
Will: “I’ll address something because it hurts me to do it. Believe it or not, guys, I love Jacob. Our relationship is so perfect because we’re so similar. … Showing our love is messing with each other. A lot of people, unfortunately, think I despise him. He was one of my favorites there. I had an absolute blast with them. The whole cast was amazing, but the one dynamic that I think might get shifted when you watch is people thinking I hate this poor guy. I don’t; he’s a good guy.”
Joi: “Yeah, I think everybody was amazing. We were blessed to have such a talented cast and I am friends with them to this day—some of the cast I’m really good friends with.”
Kesi: “Yeah, I completely agree. I think we got really lucky with the people in this cast. But I would have to especially shout-out Osei. When I was watching the first episode, I was just like, Is he really saying that in his confessionals? I was dying laughing. I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with him, because we’re both in New York, and it’s been so special.”
Joi: “And his outfits were amazing.”
Kesi: “True. And we only got two of them!”
I asked Kesi if revealing herself as the mole affected any of her relationships with the cast, and if took a while to mend those relationships or if everyone was able to compartmentalize her role as part of a game.
Kesi: “That is a great question, actually. It’s been different for every person. I think that some people are immediately just able to accept that it was a game, and congratulated me on just doing the show and playing this role as the mole. I think the most surprising thing is that Will and I still are friends, because he was honestly public enemy number one from like, episode six onward, and I think out of everyone I probably was the worst to you in terms of like trying to manipulate and change his vote.”
Will: “You should go all in on Casey. I’ll never forget that!”
Kesi: “But I do think, lastly, there have been people it’s taking time with. That’s okay, I get it. It’s hard sometimes. It is a game, but there are a lot of emotions involved, and it’s hard to separate that—you’re that invested in this arena. So I am hopeful that, with time and with experiences, that these relationships will evolve.”
What did the players wish we had seen?
Will: “I’ll speak personally, and it’s a thanks to all the people who took care of us in Australia that probably don’t get appreciation. There were so many things behind the scenes that they had to deal with—especially with me being so difficult. I only eat chicken and rice for 90 percent of my meals, and we had people running in cars to grocery store. The people on the ground who made everything possible, I can’t think enough, they’re unsung heroes of the entire show for sure.”
Joi: “The cast and crew were amazing—lighting, the cameramen. We all had our moments with them. And they brought humor because they knew we were in a difficult situation. So yeah, I agree with Will; everybody was great.”
Kesi: “There were so many offscreen moments that are pretty incredible together. There were nights we would be playing cards, or there were other nights or days we would go hiking. One of my favorite nights is that we caught this dance party together.”
Will: “It’s moments like that where you were able to turn the game off completely, and I think that was really important for our mental stress. When you were able to stop looking at somebody as a competitor, a mole, something like that, it was really nice. That’s when you truly got to build relationships with everybody and shut down, which is fun because the game feels 24/7 a lot of time.”