Awards Daily chats with Ted Lasso supporting players Phil Dunster, Brendan Hunt, and Jeremy Swift about their underdog first season of the Apple TV+ show.
A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and given the awards nominations and critical acclaim, there is no weak link on the Ted Lasso team.
Here are some quick conversations from some of the male supporting players of the Apple TV+ series, including Phil Dunster (Jamie Tartt), Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard), and Jeremy Swift (Higgins).
Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) is an all-star athlete and cad, and yet you can’t help but love him because of Dunster’s performance. This MVP reveals why his character has layers and how the Ted Lasso team makes him look like a professional soccer—I mean, football—player.
Awards Daily: Your character can be a bit of a jerk. But what do you like about him? I think he has a sweet center somewhere.
Phil Dunster: A Jerk!? You think?? Nahhhh…I do really have a soft spot for him—he does something I think a lot of us wish we could do and that’s say how he actually feels and in a funny way he has a real sense of self. He knows who he is and what he wants. This is oftentimes at the expense of others’ needs or their feelings, but I feel as an actor you have to dig down to figure out why it is someone is who they are and why they do the things they do—however reprehensible they, their actions, or indeed their haircut, may be.
AD: How has his life changed without Keeley in it? Do you think he took her for granted?
PD: 100% he took her for granted. (Silly boy.) Jamie built walls around himself because of his fear of letting people in and that they might see how scared he is of losing what he has gained (adoration, money, success), and Keeley was a casualty of that even though she was the one who was helping him grow the most (and Ted to a less-intimate extent). He really feels her absence. Just as I do in not getting to spend as much time filming with Juno Temple.
AD: Do you think there’s any chance he’s going to try to win her back in Season 2? How do you think he feels about her and Roy?
PD: What’s that? You ask about Season 2? Urrrm… Lips are sealed. All I can say is I think S2 is even better than the first.
AD: How much training do you have to do to look like a world-class soccer player? Are you a huge soccer fan?
PD: However much training one has to do in order to be as good as those pros, I’m not doing enough. I’ve played and loved football all of my life and yet my greatest football skill is in the hands of Kip Kroeger, our editor, and Bohdan Pylypchuk, our football choreographer. I try very hard and do the work, but they’re the ones who make Jamie look like the MVP he is. All but one shot of Jamie in the football sequences in S1 is performed by me. See—told you Kip and Bohdan were good! I love football (proper term, not soccer, thank you very much) and I support AFC Wimbledon.
AD: What’s it like working with such a great acting ensemble? Is it a bit like playing on an athletic team?
PD: It’s hard not to stray into the realm of cliché when I answer this, but I really can’t stress how much of a joy it is to get to mess around with this lot. Brett Goldstein is my Kryptonite—we’re yet to complete a scene without bursting into fits of laughter. There’s just something about his face. And Hannah Waddingham is the boss and the most A grade of human beings. And Jason is basically just Ted Lasso but funnier.
AD: When we last see Jamie in Season 1, he’s being yelled at by his father. How much does this upbringing, much of which we do not see as an audience, play into your performance?
PD: I think that upbringing and who we were growing up are the things that inform everything we do in our lives and yet they often remain totally subconscious. That’s one of the really enjoyable and challenging things when playing Jamie to play with those layers of him tussling with his past and who he’s trying to be in his future. The dress sense is perhaps less to do with his upbringing. That’s likely just dodgy Instagram influencers.
AD: How do you think Jamie being on Ted’s team has changed him? Or has it not changed him?
PD: I think that he’s still incredibly entrenched in his ways. He still finds it difficult to communicate emotions and to share the spotlight, but I think that we maybe see Ted make the slightest crack in his machismo armour by the end of S1. That perhaps gives us hope he might not just be a total asshole after all.
Coach Beard, played by Brendan Hunt, is Ted’s right-hand man on the show, both in front of and behind the scenes—since Hunt is also a writer. And as I learned, there’s more to the beard than just a fashion statement.
Awards Daily: What’s it been like pulling double duty on this show, as both a writer and an actor?
Brendan Hunt: It’s tiring but great. Basically my whole life is Ted Lasso day and night, and I don’t mind that one bit.
AD: This is such a character-driven show. Where do you get ideas for developing characters? What’s it like in the writers’ room?
BH: I think we started with trying to figure out what types of people you might actually come across in the world of football (soccer), and then who you might meet in a sports movie. Then we explored those archetypes as fully as possible, so as to make sure they weren’t just avatars but real people. Our writers’ room is great, be it in person or over Zoom (though I really miss being together in person). Just a bunch of funny and smart people who are not shy about their opinions, all of whom just want to make the best show we can make.
AD: Coach Beard didn’t know anything about soccer before taking the gig with Ted. How much did you know about it? Are you a fan?
BH: I moved to Amsterdam in 1999 knowing almost nothing about soccer. I left Amsterdam in 2004 knowing more about soccer than I knew about almost any other topic. I got completely hooked on the sport, its history, its grandeur, its characters. Came away almost angry that I hadn’t been suitably exposed to it before.
AD: Coach Beard feels like a man of few words, but he still makes his presence known. How do you physically find Coach Beard as an actor when words can’t suffice?
BH: I let the beard do the work.
AD: What does Coach Beard add to the Diamond Dogs?
BH: Bluntness, hard truths, tough love. The other three DDs are all “nice” guys. Beard is nice, too, in his way, but he’ll also cut to the heart of the matter without remorse if that’s what he thinks a friend needs to hear.
AD: I felt so sad for Coach Beard when he and Jane had a falling out at the benefit. They seemed to be so happy, until he didn’t want to quit playing chess. What do you think this says about Coach Beard?
BH: Competitiveness is his Achilles heel. But hey, him and Jane seem to be back together by the end of Episode 9, so there’s still hope.
AD: What can you tell us, if anything, about Season 2? Have you been surprised by how passionate fans are for this show?
BH: We’ve always seen the show as a trilogy of three seasons; since Apple was kind enough to renew us for Season 2 and 3 at the same time, it afforded us the chance to experiment a little. So Season 2 is our “Empire Strikes Back” season, and that’s about all I can tell you. As for the response to the show, we are overwhelmed. We never could have imagined the way people have taken to Ted so far has been deeply gratifying and we’re deeply grateful for it.
Higgins (Jeremy Swift) bears the brunt of a lot of torment from Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca, which culminates when he quits. Season 2 should bring about a new attitude (and overcoat) for the team Director of Communications.
Awards Daily: I love Higgins! But he takes a lot of abuse from Rebecca. Why do you think he does?
Jeremy Swift: He’s compromised because he has 1,000 children he’s responsible for. He does it under duress, but eventually breaks free!
AD: He’s also reserved. Even Ted, who seems to know everything about everyone, didn’t know his first name was Leslie. Why do you think he holds back?
JS: He’s all about the work and enabling people, he doesn’t have much ego!
AD: What does Higgins bring to the Diamond Dogs, as a member?
JS: Higgins’ natural, humble advice touches Ted, who appreciates his wise input. His honesty and seniority is what he brings to the group.
AD: Higgins finally blows up at Rebecca when she wants to leave 10,000 seats for the visitors at the game. Why does he choose this moment to finally stand up for himself?
JS: I don’t think Higgins knows in advance that he is about to blow. Everything reaches critical mass for him in that scene I think, exacerbated by Rebecca’s glee in ruining the club!
AD: What can you tell us about Season 2? What’s in store for Higgins?
JS: Obviously I can’t tell you anything about S02 because spoilers spoil! I can tell you though that he has very nice new overcoat!
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.