Awards Daily calls a time out to e-chat with Ted Lasso actor/Executive Story Editor Brett Goldstein, who plays Roy Kent, about writing the episode “Tan Lines” and his electric chemistry with Keeley (Juno Temple).
The fifth episode of Ted Lasso‘s first season, “Tan Lines,” marks a shift in everything we know about the show and its protagonist. Up until this point, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) and his background in the states are a bit of a mystery. How can someone so happy-go-lucky up and leave his wife and child for a job he has no business doing in the UK? What’s really going on back home?
Written by Brett Goldstein, who also plays Roy Kent on the series, “Tan Lines” is a heartbreaker, as it peels back the layers behind our lead. What’s also remarkable is that such an emotional episode can come from the man who plays Roy, the rough and gruff, no-nonsense team captain. Goldstein proves that like any good team player, he’s able to maneuver and pitch in in multiple positions on the field, whether it’s writing a crucial episode for its title character or developing his character’s relationship with Keeley (Juno Temple).
Check out my email chat with Goldstein below, for his thoughts on the creation of “Tan Lines,” Nate’s criticism about Roy, and why someone like his character has a hard time hanging up his cleats.
Awards Daily: Everyone just gushes about the series. What do you think about it that touches so many people?
Brett Goldstein: It’s truly amazing. I can’t speak for the audience, but I think having a lead character whose default is positivity and optimism feels unusual in TV. Ted Lasso shows people trying to be good, but these characters don’t exist in a vacuum. All of them have real-world problems and get in their own way. And yet, the show dares them to improve, to be their best selves. And that maybe has inspired people and taken them by surprise. And made them want to grow mustaches.
AD: In addition to acting, you’re also Executive Story Editor and a writer on the show. What’s it like pulling double duty like that, acting and writing?
BG: It’s the ultimate. I feel so insanely grateful for it. To get to actively engage in the shaping of the show and the character. I think what happened with all the cast members is that we all have become so invested in our characters and we feel a sense ownership with them. I’m very protective of Roy. It’s a privilege to be able to say something I think he would say and then for that to go into the script. I’ve been very spoiled doing this job.
AD:You wrote one of the best episodes of the season – “Tan Lines.” We learn so much about Ted, and I think I almost cried in that episode when his wife tells him she basically doesn’t love him anymore. What was conceptualizing this important episode like?
BG: Thank you very much. There were two things that went into the thinking of this episode. The first was that I had seen Lucas Moura (a Tottenham player) bring his baby onto the pitch after he had scored a hat trick and the crowd had gone wild. It was incredibly moving and so I wanted Ted, who had not been welcome in Richmond, to finally win a game and to bring his family onto the pitch and be cheered by the crowd.
The other challenge was that we knew Ted and his wife were going to break up. But we had one episode to meet her and to end it, and it was important to all of us that no one was to blame, neither party had done anything ‘wrong’ and that neither would want to ‘give up’ on the relationship. But that fundamentally. . .it wasn’t right anymore. So how could we get there? These were the main threads to explore. It involved loads of conversations about relationships and love and what it all means and who these characters were, and all these things lead into other things and I just loved writing it. The whole writing team is truly brilliant. I cannot praise them enough.
AD:You and Juno Temple have such amazing chemistry. What do you think he finds so attractive about Keeley? She’s obviously adorable, but there’s something more there. He has a respect for her.
BG: Thank you again. Firstly, it is truly a privilege to act opposite Juno. She is just brilliant. I love doing Roy and Keeley scenes because I just have to play off her. She can be so truthful in a scene that it’s very difficult not to respond in kind. Those scenes always feel so natural. She’s just magic.
As for Roy. . .I think Roy has a certain expectation of relationships. He has been with women who did ‘kiss and tells’ to the paper, who were there for the wrong reasons, who literally stole his stuff. When he confronts Keeley at the gala and says he doesn’t want to be used as a pawn in her arguments with Jamie, and she immediately apologises, that takes him by surprise. She is accountable. This is not the world he knows. And I think it grows from there. And Roy realises here is this amazing woman. . . and maybe he doesn’t want to keep living as he was. Maybe he’s ready to do this properly. . . And they have this chemistry. But for once it isn’t just about the sex. There’s a whole other level to it. And he doesn’t want to ruin it.
AD: What keeps someone like Roy Kent from retiring?
BG: There is no alternative. I have known many professional footballers in my life. There is a tragedy to it. You start playing as a young child, you join a club, your life is insane and you are insulated from the real world and then one day, suddenly, it’s over. You’re 35 and you have no plan, and no idea what to do next. Roy does not want to retire because he has never thought beyond it. His plan from a child was “Play football until I die.” Keeley is the first person to offer hope beyond that.
AD: Roy really takes it to heart when Nate roasts him. Why do you think that is?
BG: Roy has always had a soft spot for Nate. He likes and respects him. And he’s aware that Nate has been paying attention. And he has had Nate’s back. So for Nate to be that brutal with him means something. It hurts, but he’s right. And Roy knows it. And again, Nate is accountable. Roy may be emotionally inarticulate but he knows instinctively what is right. And Nate is right.
AD:In the final episode, Roy gets injured and has to be taken off the field, in a very touching moment with the fans cheering for him. What do you think this means to Roy and what was it like playing that moment?
BG: Playing the moment, with the fans singing the Roy Kent song was incredible. I’ve told my agent I will only play characters with their own theme tune from now on. As for what it meant to Roy… It meant that he did mean something. That it wasn’t nothing.
AD: Anything you can say about what’s in store for Season 2?
BG: Absolutely nothing! Apple are watching and I signed a document saying I wouldn’t reveal anything! I’ve already said too much. Delete this interview!
Megan McLachlan is a freelance writer that lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan, The Cut, Paste, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thrillist, and The Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @heydudemeg.