Brett Goldstein swears he's not annoyed with his Ted Lasso costar Hannah Waddingham. It's early July, and the Emmy-winning duo — who are both nominated again this year — are sitting in the bar of the Maybourne Beverly Hills, thinking back to the days when they first found out about the now-beloved Apple TV+ series. Waddingham is about to speak when she catches Goldstein's eye and stops. "Why are you looking at me like you want to kill me," she says with a laugh. Goldstein quickly replies, "That's just my face! You interpret that look any way you like, that's my face."
That face has served Roy Kent well as the big-hearted, hot-headed captain-turned-coach of the AFC Richmond soccer team at the center of Ted Lasso, a show about an American football coach (Jason Sudeikis) whose infectious optimism translates beautifully across sports (and international waters)… eventually. As team owner Rebecca, Waddingham has taken a character that, in season 1, was Ted's first major foe and turned her into someone viewers (and Ted) can't help but root for.
Together, Goldstein and Waddingham are two parts of a massively impressive ensemble cast — the series earned 20 Emmy nominations for its second season, half of those for the actors — and they're smack in the middle of filming the show's third season. So it's safe to say they could use a few drinks (though these will be mocktails because they have an event later).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When was the first time you all heard the words Ted Lasso?
HANNAH WADDINGHAM: I was called in for a meeting they said, "There's this football show," and I immediately — before they'd finished their sentence — went, "Oh no." Couldn't have less interest in football if I tried, which hasn't massively changed but there we are. I went for the meeting and I still didn't know what it was called and rather embarrassingly when I first met Jason [Sudeikis] I went, "What's it called?" And he went, "Uh, Ted Lasso," and I went, "As in lassoo?" And I thought, "Oh my God, you sound like Mary Poppins. Just stop talking, say the script, and shut up."
BRETT GOLDSTEIN: You know I was stalking her for years before the job?
WADDINGHAM: He's not actually joking.
GOLDSTEIN: And so when I found out she was in the mix I was like, "F—ing yes!"
GOLDSTEIN: Um, gentle stalking, no threats, just being near her, finding out her habits, you know. [Laughs] When I heard she was in the mix I was like, you have to get her because then I don't need to worry about this restraining order and whatnot. Here we are!
WADDINGHAM: He's not actually joking.
GOLDSTEIN: He's not joking. [Laughs]
WADDINGHAM: Because the first day of the read-through, suddenly there was this immaculately hirsute man in front of me, [saying] "I've literally seen everything you've been in."
GOLDSTEIN: "I've seen this show. I've seen you in the shower."
GOLDSTEIN: Everything she'd ever done.
WADDINGHAM: Thank god he was hot, otherwise I would've had to have a word with him.
But Brett, you first heard the words as a writer obviously.
GOLDSTEIN: I think I knew the original sketch because I'm a Tottenham fan and in the beginning Ted Lasso goes to Tottenham. I always had love for Ted Lasso. I was sort of annoyed that he was going to end up at Richmond and not go back to Tottenham but he did get fired and that was true to the story. So I actually heard of it long, long before. And then one day Bill Lawrence called me up and said, "What are you doing?" And I said, "I'm busy, what do you want?"
"I'm busy stalking Hannah."
GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, "I'm outside Hannah's house, what do you need?" I said, "She'll be home any minute!" [Laughs] And he said, "We're about to make this football show with Jason Sudeikis and I think you'd be great for it but you need to meet Jason and see if you get on." Me and Jason had a FaceTime at like one in the morning for like an hour and a half and I just sort of fell in love. I was like, "I really hope this happens" and then it did.
WADDINGHAM: But that was as a writer.
GOLDSTEIN: That was as a writer, yeah.
WADDINGHAM: Before you did your special on them.
GOLDSTEIN: Before I blackmailed them. [Laughs]
At what point in the writing did you decide you wanted to be the one to play Roy?
GOLDSTEIN: I think it was the scene where he bumps into Keeley [Juno Temple] in the car park at the end of [episode] 5 and scares her. It was around then I was like, "This is the guy."
WADDINGHAM: You serious? You got that far in?
GOLDSTEIN: Because all the time I kept thinking, "Could I do this? Could I do this?" It was around halfway through I thought, "I have to do this."
WADDINGHAM: I can't imagine anyone else on God's earth playing this part.
GOLDSTEIN: Well bless you, same to you.
What was the moment you all realized the show was a hit?
WADDINGHAM: For me, it was when it came out. I remember you and I having a little conversation about…
GOLDSTEIN: No one will watch it, it's on Apple TV. I thought no one would watch it.
WADDINGHAM: You and I were like, "It's been so nice, we've all got to know each other…"
GOLDSTEIN: We've had a lovely time…
WADDINGHAM: But no one's gonna watch it.
GOLDSTEIN: People didn't know how to get Apple TV. My parents didn't know, I didn't know. So I was like, even if it was amazing no one's going to watch it.
WADDINGHAM: And then of course there's that thing of, once you see it all beautifully spliced together, you're like, "Oh my God, I'm in something that's really going to change things." And especially when it kind of accidentally came out during the worst time in modern history, I remember watching it, because I don't like watching myself in things, so I was zipping through me, getting to all this lot and thinking, "Oh my God, for the first time ever I'm a fangirl of something that I'm in."
When's the first time a stranger wanted to talk to you all about Ted Lasso?
WADDINGHAM: That was here, this country. You, me walking along and being like, "Things have changed." It was so odd, and especially if we walk around in any kind of pack. [People] usually start crying when they see me because they find Rebecca like, "Oh bless, [you've] got a mess of a life, well done."
GOLDSTEIN: The best interaction I've had is, we were in a different country and I was with Phil Dunster who plays Jamie and this American guy with his girlfriend came up to me and went, "Hey man, you know where I can get some drugs?" And before I was recognized for being Roy Kent, I used to always get asked for drugs because I look like I'm the guy you go to for drugs. And he went, "Can you sell me drugs?" And then he stopped and he went, "Man, you look like Roy Kent. Anyway, where can I get drugs?" [Laughs] Then he walked past Phil and he went, "You look like Jamie Tartt!" Then he walked back to his girlfriend and said, "These two drug dealers look like Roy and Jamie." That was my favorite.
Brett, was Roy's signature growl scripted or was that something you brought to the character?
WADDINGHAM: And does it not bloody hurt? Because it sounds like it does. I don't know how you've never lost your voice with that. How do you do that?
GOLDSTEIN: It's a real gift. [Laughs] I honestly don't know the answer to that growling question because I would hate to take any credit away from any of the writers. I feel like it started as a thing and then became a thing in the scripts but I could be wrong.
WADDINGHAM: He's being modest.
GOLDSTEIN: I genuinely don't remember but I imagine it evolved.
How much improv is there on this show?
GOLDSTEIN: Probably less than you might imagine.
WADDINGHAM: Next to nothing.
GOLDSTEIN: I think what we do — certainly what Jason and me and Joe Kelly and Brendan [Hunt] and any writer who's there on set — we'll do almost like pre-improvising. We'll have the script and we'll talk before we shoot and then that becomes the thing that we shoot. We'll often shoot Jason last because then he will do some amazing s— that you're like once…
WADDINGHAM: Which is actually quite annoying because you think, "Well I would've reacted differently to you now." But it's so true about the pre-improv thing, you can feel that from the script. The one thing I always get involved with is anglicizing Rebecca to death. There'll be things like "I don't know, I guess," and I just say "Absolutely not." She doesn't talk like that, for God's sake. I think they've learned now to go, "Yeah, just do what you want with it." [Laughs]
What is your favorite scene that you're not in?
GOLDSTEIN: There's loads.
WADDINGHAM: Oh my God, there's so many.
GOLDSTEIN: The scene where Hannah's singing "Let It Go" and Jason has a panic attack. I am in that scene and I'm mouthing words but if you remove me from that scene, I was witness to that scene. Okay, if I can't have that scene, I'll have the scene when [Rebecca] confesses to Ted and he forgives her and they hug. I was there when they did the first rehearsal of it. I had a tear, we all did, it was f—ing amazing.
WADDINGHAM: Did you?
GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, it was beautiful. That's when I was like, she's gonna win an Oscar and they don't even have Oscars for this.
WADDINGHAM: The scene for me in season 1 was probably the one with Jason doing the whole left leg, right leg, all of that.
GOLDSTEIN: Aren't you in that?
WADDINGHAM: I am in it but I love what he does in it. And I also — I know I'm in this scene as well — but Jason's work on his anxiety attack I think is absolutely beautiful and could be so easily over-baked or under-baked, for that matter, but it was really a delicately thought out little…
GOLDSTEIN: It was beautifully baked.
So Hannah, if you're not a big fan of watching yourself, will you go back and watch the series once it's fully done?
WADDINGHAM: Maybe a long way down the line but I'm really, genuinely, in all seriousness, massively struggling with the end being imminent. Like deeply, deeply it sticks in my throat.
Does it feel different filming because of knowing that? [Editor's note: While the creative team has previously spoken about a three-season plan for the series, the end is yet to be confirmed.]
WADDINGHAM: Yeah, it does for me.
GOLDSTEIN: I think I felt that way from the beginning. It's a thing called, something nostalgia, but it's like present nostalgia — you're loving something so much that while you're enjoying it you can't enjoy it because you're worried about it ending. That's how I felt from the beginning on this job. I'm so grateful for it, I love it, and I'm so sad that one day it will end and I think I've always felt that. Pathetic. [Laughs]
WADDINGHAM: I would say across the board, like all the cast, all of us that are very much AFC Richmond together, I feel like we're all aware that we're in this beautiful, delicate jewelry box that we're never going to replace. It's a full Greyhound little island and we all treat it with precious, precious love and it is a very bloody happy ship, so that's difficult. And also, no longer walking next to your character, I really can't cope with that at all. Leaving her to do her own thing… I don't like it!
Brett, you know how it ends. Hannah, do you?
WADDINGHAM: I vaguely know how it ends but it's entirely possible that Jason will have spun me a load of bullocks just to stop me talking about it.
GOLDSTEIN: I told Toheeb [Jimoh] a long time ago how his character dies. [Laughs] Basically I was like, "You die by a helicopter." And he was like, "Oh, I'm in a helicopter crash?" And I said, "No, you run into a still helicopter. It's not even on, you just run into it. And that's how you die." [Laughs] No spoilers, but that's his ending.
Trying to keep it spoiler-free, I'll ask you this, Brett: How many times did you cry writing the season?
GOLDSTEIN: Three. I was very tired. [Laughs] There's more deaths in this season, more helicopters.
WADDINGHAM: Those bloody helicopters are a nightmare.
Speaking of season 3, when we pick up, how's Rebecca feeling? She ended the second season on a good note.
WADDINGHAM: She did end on a good note. I think she ended on a confused note about Sam [Toheeb Jimoh] because there is an electricity and an ease between them but is she perturbed enough by the age gap to leave it behind or reignite it. Who knows? We shall see! But the biggest thing for me was, I was like, "Can she not be completely all together?" I don't feel like we've traveled with Rebecca all the way through this of her not knowing how to function to suddenly have her all collected so I was like, "If she takes a couple of steps forward, can she please take maybe three or four back instead of one?" And I'm pleased to say that she is as utterly clueless in her own life as before, as we all are really!
Did you have a final-season bucket list for your characters?
WADDINGHAM: I want to shout out the window again!
GOLDSTEIN: You got one coming up, babe.
WADDINGHAM: Have I?
GOLDSTEIN: I think so, yeah.
WADDINGHAM: God, he's got such an annoying superpower!
GOLDSTEIN: But it could also be cut so that's why I shouldn't tell you.
WADDINGHAM: Also, I'd like there to be something more juicy with Keeley because that is so precious to me and Juno, that separate little family.
Brett, did you have a bucket list in the writers' room?
Killing Sam, obviously.
GOLDSTEIN: No, listen, I think it's one of the ultimate saddest TV deaths of all time. But I think it will make him even more memorable. [Laughs] My bucket list was that there's major injuries in the final game and Roy has to come on and score the winning goal and they said, "That's ridiculous, get out, you're fired." I said, "Wait, wait, wait! Wait till you hear what I got for Sam!" [Laughs]
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