Awards Daily chats with Ted Lasso’s Jeremy Swift about how Leslie Higgins has changed in three seasons and what he’s going to miss most about working on the Apple TV+ series.
Since Ted Lasso started as “a COVID show,” Jeremy Swift said the last day of filming was emotional for a variety of reasons.
“Having done a season during the pandemic, I did think, everyone is in this locker room now!” says Jeremy Swift with a laugh. “Jason [Sudeikis] and Brendan [Hunt] stood up on the podium and made an award-winning speech that was genius and so captivating. Jason talked about the show having a momentum beyond anything that was created, which is very true. It’s out there, and people have made it their own thing.”
Over the course of three seasons, some might argue that Swift’s Leslie Higgins is the character who’s changed the least, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“He changes when he’s given more status at the end of Season 1, and very quickly in Season 2, you already see he’s running with that. He’s basically about information plus awkwardness. Once he’s been given the right to be himself, initially from Ted and then Rebecca, he doesn’t have imposter syndrome. That’s something Nate struggles with that still haunts him. Higgins is one of the characters of stability in the show, and you do need that; otherwise, it’s just all influx.”
Early on in Season 3, Higgins is at the center of the campaign to enlist Zava to play for Richmond, with him listening in on conversations wherever he goes to try to help Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) get the star player on their team.
“Because Higgins has a lot of kids, there’s a lot of information streaming into his house. I don’t think he’s a gossip, but when he feels that he has to do it, he’ll go out there and try to source it. As we found in the first season, I don’t think he’s a great spy. He struggles with that. There was something about Zava that Rebecca needs to really know, and he went to town with it.”
Not only is Higgins Rebecca’s rock at times, but he’s also the voice of reason for the Diamond Dogs. He never seems to have any problems, only answers.
“We see him come running through the building to be part of it. [Diamond Dogs] are very important, and it’s camaraderie as much as anything. It is intimated that Higgins has a jazz group that he’s part of, so he does have a community life where he checks in with people outside of work. I think Higgins outside of work is a little bit different.”
We learn a bit about Higgins’s obsession with jazz music, specifically Chet Baker, in the episode “Sunflowers,” where he gets to play bass, one of Swift’s real-life passions.
“I have had lessons for quite a few years, but I haven’t really played with anybody apart from a free jazz bunch in London, who play on a live radio station and that’s just plinky-plonk music. The kids I played with [in “Sunflowers”], I think the oldest was 24; they were so talented.”
The storyline was written specifically for Swift, something that Ted Lasso star and writer Brendan Hunt (Beard) asked him about ahead of time.
“It was inevitable that Brendan, given his history with Amsterdam, would write this episode and be the most qualified person to write about it. He quizzed me quite early on and sent me a WhatsApp text asking me if I could lead a band with a number. I said, ‘Yeah, it depends on the tempo and if it’s not a difficult key signature.'”
Swift ends up nailing it in the episode, giving audiences a glimpse into Higgins After Dark.
Like a true jazz performer, Swift says he metaphorically threw the scripts away in Season 3.
“If it’s too set in stone for Jason, he’s not comfortable with it. I stopped learning the scripts on Season 3 because they would change at 7 o’clock in the morning when you’re in the car on the way to set, and then it would change again when you’re in the makeup chair. It was a lot of fun to do!”
One of those last-minute scenes? Higgins freezing with unclapped hands until he can confirm Richmond’s victory.
“Jason kept saying, ‘Your hands aren’t quite in the right place,’ because I was freezing. I said, ‘Does it matter?’ And he was like, ‘Well, it just looks a bit better!’ I loved doing that, and I loved having Hannah pull my face around.”
Swift says he enjoyed the improvisation and the “remixes” going on every day.
“In the locker room [in “La Locker Room Aux Folles”], we were talking about the percentage of people in the world who are gay, and it sort of developed into a fessing-up scene. I ended up saying I had man crushes on various characters in Star Trek: The Next Generation, including Data, and Brendan said, ‘That doesn’t count because he’s a robot!’ But none of that ended up in there. You never know what’s going to end up in the show.”
That’s just one of the things Swift will miss about working on the series, whether or not it will exist in some other form in the future.
“I love doing scenes, as everybody does, with Hannah. She’s so bouncy and has such comic rhythms. When we run through the scenes the first time, it’s already really good. I relish doing more scenes with Hannah really. And Juno [Temple] as well. When the three of us are in the stands, we just have a great time. When a little bit of squabbling pops up, I love that.”
Ted Lasso is streaming on Apple TV+.