Juno Temple of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso talks to Awards Daily about playing the loveable Keeley Jones and her relationships within the AFC Richmond team.
Ted Lasso‘s Keeley Jones, played by Juno Temple, comes on screen like a firecracker, popping with spark and passion, as Jamie Tartt’s (Phil Dunster) girlfriend-turned-team-PR-director. Like so many characters on this show, there’s more to this character than she initially lets on. At first, she might come across as a vapid social media influencer/social climber, but with Temple’s charm and the show’s exceptional writing, Keeley becomes yet another underdog that you root for.
I had the opportunity to speak with Temple about her work as Keeley, including discussion about the love triangle between her, Jamie, and Roy (Brett Goldstein) and her budding friendship with Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham).
Awards Daily: Would you describe Keeley as maybe a soccer groupie? Do you think she’s dated other soccer players?
Juno Temple: Definitely. There’s sort of a throwback to when there was that WAG obsession (Wives and Girlfriends) in the UK, where there were women like Posh Spice and David Beckham and that whole thing. Wayne Rooney and Colleen Rooney. It’s a throwback to WAG culture which I think changed very much so with social media. Keeley is in a moment of change when you meet her, and so she’s navigating what she’s going to do. I love the moment where she has that line with Rebecca saying, “I’m famous for almost being famous.” (Laughs)
AD: I was thinking of her as Penny Lane. Speaking of Almost Famous. She reminds me of Penny Lane a little bit.
JT: I’ll take that as a huge compliment! (Laughs)
AD: (Laughs) It seems like she goes after men who are younger than her, too. Even with Jamie. Why is that?
JT: I don’t know necessarily that she’s always gone after men that are younger than her, but another line that I think is kind of funny is that when she was 18, she was dating 23-year-old footballers, and now she’s nearly 30, and she’s still dating 23-year-old footballers. I think she’s in a place where she feels trapped in it. I think there’s a part of her that’s a bit nervous to leave that world, because what is she gonna do. And that’s why the relationship with Rebecca is such a monumental one for her, because Rebecca points out to her, “You’ve got a really good brain and you’re actually really good at this publicist stuff. I think you might want to use your brain and not be afraid to walk away from the men that might not see how you want to be seen right now.” I think the other gorgeous thing about Keeley, with her relationship with Jamie Tartt, when that relationship ends, it doesn’t end end—she’s still invested in helping Jamie be the best version of himself, cause I really think she sees that in people and she really wants people to see that in themselves and maybe see sides of themselves they weren’t aware of. I think it’s a really lovely thing with Jamie that it’s something he misses when the relationship is over. I like the idea that Keeley leaves a good impact on people
AD: I love her relationship with Roy. Especially when she wants something more and he backs off, because she’s different. How do you think she’s used sex in relationships before this point?
JT: I think she’s more not used to a man being what we consider potentially these days more chivalrous and old school. “I’ll kiss you goodnight and we’ll do this again sometime.” Her gut reaction is, “That was bad. Now what?” I think it’s something that’s new to her. In the episode where we’re all at the gala, and there’s that moment between Roy, Keeley, and Jamie, Roy calls Keeley out for using him, and I think she really sees how much that hurt his feelings and I think that’s a moment where she realizes his heart might feel something for her and that’s why it hurt and how has she not paid attention to that? She immediately owns up to the fact that was wrong and it wasn’t kind. She wishes she hadn’t, but I do think that moment was a big moment for Keeley, because it’s where she realizes that oh, the man in front of me might be somebody who wants to love me in a grown-up way that’s got a future and isn’t hovering on a potential it-could-all-fall-apart-tomorrow situation. I think the romance that builds between Keeley and Roy is really great, but also the fact that Keeley ends up having a night with Jamie again because she thinks that Roy is completely uninterested and Jamie comes in and he is kind to her. It’s important that that is shown, that women react to being treated with kindness and appreciation and more than just being hot and wanting to sleep with them. It turns you on a lot more. They react much better to it.
AD: Jamie and Roy couldn’t be more opposite. They even hate each other. What do you think Keeley is attracted to in both of them? Do they have anything in common?
JT: Yes, I think Roy is someone who has lived a Jamie Tartt moment already, and Keeley knows that. I think that Jamie is somebody who Keeley needs guidance and Roy would be a good person to help him through that ultimately, having walked the walk and talked the talk already. I think that’s where a lot of their friction comes from, is actually [them] being more similar than they would like to let on. Keeley knows that about each of them. She also knows that they both have these really big hearts and ultimately want to be seen for more than the football players that they are and want to be loved.
AD: The other relationship I love is Keeley’s relationship with Rebecca. She seems so excited to have a female friend. I wonder if she maybe doesn’t have many female friends.
JT: Yeah, I think sadly no. Not out of lack of wanting them. I think she’s had a past that maybe some women don’t know how to connect with her through it, and she has maybe also been bad at connecting with them through it, because of how she’s presenting herself in the world. But actually it’s all about not judging a book by its cover, this show. And it’s about when you get to know each character, they are so different and so much more than you might have initially thought when you met them. I think that’s such an important message and it’s something that I hold dear in my real life, to never judge somebody at first glance ever. Everybody’s book is so much more dense and delicate and nuanced our front covers. If somebody gives you the opportunity to read it, you should be so damn lucky.
Rebecca is very different from Keeley in a sense that they are from different walks of life but also different moments in their lives. They are experiencing different beats of being women, but at the same time they are just true friends and want to support each other through each given moment that might be difficult that might be brilliant that might be sad—all of it. For both of those women, this friendship becomes something that really opens their eyes to sides of themselves they haven’t really thought about. It’s about women supporting women, however which way they come. Women are such extraordinary creatures and actually supporting each other is our female right. Initially there was this reaction between this beautiful friendship between us that I hadn’t really thought about because it felt so natural, between me and Hannah because we have become very close off camera. She feels like this extraordinary fairy godmother that came into my world and has just really, really guided me through moments and been there from the minute I met her. That’s been very special. And then to get to portray that on camera as well is extra special. Keeley’s relationships are about her seeing people, and in doing that, asking for people to see her.
AD: I was thinking about how Rebecca kind of pushed her to realize she’s better than Jamie. If she never learns about Jamie’s plus-one at the auction, do you think she stays with him? Or is it just a matter of time before something pushes her over the edge to redirect her life?
JT: I think she needed guidance through it. I think the support of Rebecca is a really big part of it. I think she’s aware of Jamie’s journey and knows that the end situation might be that they’re not right for each other. But I think she is also frightened to completely walk away from it all, so she’s settling for something that maybe isn’t in this moment as fruitful as it could be for either of them actually. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to be in each other’s lives. Who knows what the future brings? But I think that ultimately she’s got Jamie’s back. She knows a side of Jamie that not everybody else does. But I think she also knows that he’s not capable of being in a relationship that she desires right now, and he needs to do some growing and adventuring as a younger guy dealing with some past trauma and stuff that’s been thrown into the limelight for being brilliant at this sport that is a religion in the UK. That’s a journey and a half as well. I don’t think she’s unaware of the fact that she wants Roy and Jamie to potentially help each other out, because I do think she sees their similarities. But she also knows that that’s going to happen in its own time if it’s going to happen at all.
Ted Lasso Season 1 is streaming on Apple TV+.