Phil Dunster, Jamie Tartt on AppleTV’s Ted Lasso, digs into his character’s season two growth in this interview with Awards Daily. He talks about getting prepared for his intense locker room confrontation with his father as well as how Keeley (Juno Temple) is still a huge part of who Jamie is as a character. He also details his feelings about writer/co-star Brett Goldstein who is only his on screen antagonist. Finally, he discusses a new show that sounds incredibly intense and trippy.
Awards Daily: Jamie goes through a huge emotional moment this last season when he deals with his father in the locker room. Can you tell us what went into creating that scene?
Phil Dunster: To begin with it was a culmination of a season’s worth of story arcing. I think all the way through Jason had these teases of things to come whenever I was doing scenes. So I had an idea of what we were working towards. Then the day itself we shot that scene in the changing room at Wembley, which for the uninitiated is the home of English football. It was a really, really big thing for me as a lifelong football fan. As ever, those scenes do take a few hours. So for me it was working with Jason (Sudeikis), working with Brett (Goldstein), working with Matt (Lipsey), who’s the director of that episode, and trying to stay in the zone as it were, which was key. Trying to keep all those sorts of feelings of suppressions that Jamie has been having, keeping them at the surface. We find him at the end of a pretty rubbish game against Man City that has its own story for Jamie, but particularly when his dad comes in, it’s all just sort of brewing there and it’s at a fever pitch. A lot of kind space was given to me by Matt and the rest of the team so it’s something I work to with all of them.
AD: It all ended up being a pretty negative experience for Jamie. There’s no good moment with his father. Is that something you still think they’re going to explore in further seasons?
Phil Dunster: A fine question. I think what we see on screen is something Jamie now has to tussle with in his daily life. So whether we see James Tartt (played brilliantly by Kieran O’Brien) or not, I think we see the sins of Jamie’s forefather playing out in season 3.
AD: Speaking to Jamie’s character, you described him as going through a journey of understanding, accountability, and apology this season. Do you think he’s still on that journey, or does he have some new goals now?
Phil Dunster: He is still trying to learn those lessons and put them into practice. But as you have seen through season two people are finding what their journey is, and season three is them really going through it. For Jamie, he is learning to allow leadership and he is trying to step up and have a laugh or two. As he says in episode ten of season two as he’s talking to Keely, he’s trying to become the man he always thought he could be. And that is a never finished project; you are always working on it and Jamie is no different than that.
AD: A lot of Jamie’s development has been with his relationship with Keely, if it’s her as his girlfriend or just as his friend. Any thoughts on where they’re going to be or should be?
Phil Dunster: We see at the end of season 2 Keely takes a job elsewhere. We may well see them find their time through little moments throughout season 3. It’s hard to say without giving too much away. I suppose in that similar way that when you have been with someone and you’ve been that close to somebody they never really go away. There are people you thought you said goodbye to a long time ago and they turn up all of a sudden and nothing major may have happened but there is a shortcut to intimacy there, and we see that a little bit play out in season 3.
AD: For me, one of my favorite Jamie moments was the signal from the coaches for Jamie to act like a jerk. What was your reaction upon finding out that scene?
Phil Dunster: I was like, that makes sense. That’s what Brett normally does to me most days. I think that what the writers do really well on the show is they make you as an audience go, I love that they did that, even though you can never guess what they are going to do when they do it. You are like, that makes total sense, yes, I’m so glad that they did that. And the same goes for that moment where, of course, it’s that signal, and of course, it’s that storyline where it’s Roy Kent who is telling Jamie to be himself. As if this old guardian has been holding the key under his sleeve and takes it out as, like, this is my what you must do young Padawan. (A bit of high fantasy there.) When you are going through the script you can see it really clearly, and how it turned out to be on the screen is exactly how I hoped and imagined it would be.
AD: You also have The Devil’s Hour this year. What can you tell us about that?
Phil Dunster: I am very excited about it. The Devil’s Hour is a psychological thriller, whodunit, which spans across different time continuums. It sees Jessica Raine, who is a mother trying to look after her child, who has many difficulties and it’s hard to pin down quite what those are. So it’s her trying to look after her son with these weird troubling things around them. I play the son’s father, and as you can imagine with all those weird things going on and a mother going out of her mind trying to fix it, there’s a guy there maybe not trying so hard and he is just confused by the whole thing. I’m really excited to see it. It’s going to be on Amazon video.
AD: So, for my own high fantasy. You got to work with Peter Capaldi on this and I have to admit he is my favorite of the new Doctors on Doctor Who. What was it like working with him?
Phil Dunster: He was doing a play at the time in London while I was filming the first half of the shoot. So I didn’t get to spend much time with him in scenes. But when he turned up he didn’t just hit the ground running, he smashed the ground sprinting. It was incredible the transformation he made from being this world-famous but also the sweetest guy that everyone on set was so wowed by him to this chilling performance. It’s largely one reason I’m so excited to see it. It was very cool as a young actor to watch him. I’ve watched him since The Thick of It, which is less high fantasy but more swearing.
AD: You also have a short film Pragma, directed by your girlfriend Ellie Hayden that has made some of the festival rounds. What was that experience like? And did she treat you any differently on set?
Phil Dunster: It is a short film that I produced and Lucy Heath wrote and starred in. It is basically about this young woman who goes to a postgraduate program called pragma, and she wants to find love and this is an institution that teaches people how to love and how to be loved. For you who have seen the trailer or seen the film you will see the writer/lead actress and me kissing a lot. Ellie was all for this and was incredibly professional, and was more than up for getting the right shots and telling the right story. If that meant more firmly kissing then that meant more firmly kissing. We are really lucky that we had such a great work relationship. We could just compartmentalize it. Ellie’s just an incredibly hard worker.
AD: I read in a previous interview that you worked in a play that Brett Goldstein wrote but then when you first started on Ted Lasso he didn’t remember you at first. Then he did and was a bit embarrassed. But you enjoy talking about working with him. Is there anything in particular you want to say about working with him?
Phil Dunster: I think when I met with him again I knew of his work. When I first met him I just knew him as the writer of this play and he seemed like a good guy. But when I saw him when we started working on Ted Lasso I knew of SuperBob and Derek and I was really excited to work with someone who is such a big part of British comedy. So by this point I was so enamored with him. I think he’s just an incredible person. An example of his skill, he was doing rewrites of a scene and he was asking, Can you think of a joke to go here? I literally sat there for five minutes trying to think of a joke, and I came up with it and he laughed and then said, What about this? He had come up with four or five jokes that were hilarious. I was, like, I don’t know what you’ve got but you’ve got it. I know it’s a saccharine thing to say about another actor, but he is just an incredible person to work with, very, very funny, and I love doing scenes with him. And I still can’t believe that his eyebrows are that strong.
AD: Any final thoughts?
Phil Dunster: I’m just very excited to see everyone again for season three. And this is actually a coincidence, I am drinking from my Ted Lasso mug. Which is equal parts embarrassing and equal parts very fitting and was not an intentional thing. Cheers, you lot!
Ted Lasso streams exclusively on AppleTV.