We have the pleasure to bring you some more dialogue from the Ted Lasso press tour, which is all leading up to the premiere on August 14 on Apple TV+.
Brendan Hunt originated the character of Coach Beard alongside Jason Sudeikis in the Ted Lasso videos for the NFL and the Premier League. Coach Beard is stoic but always down for a trip to the pub. Hunt also writes for the show.
Nick Mohammed stars as the team waterboy turned coach, Nate, a timid, but talented, young man, who begins to thrive once Ted arrives at Richmond. Mohammed also stars in a show he created, Intelligence, over on Peacock.
Allow the following conversation to help persuade you to tune into Ted Lasso!
Brendan, I understand you're quite the Arsenal fan, really into soccer, and have done so much with soccer as an American. So I'm wondering, what's it like picking up coach Beard again? And how are you two alike?
Brendan: Coach Beard and I are pretty different. He has such an economy of vocabulary, and I am a bit of a blathering, nonstop talker to the point where I have estranged most of my friends, but that's how it goes. But, we also try to pull a little bit out of me into Beard.
I lived in Amsterdam for a few years, and me and my friends there, including Jason Neil, we got up to mischief. And so drawing from that, we think Beard has a real dark side and a real dark history that Ted has saved him from that we're only just starting to explore. So we'll see how that goes.
What do you like most about playing coach Beard?
Brendan: You know, Beard sort of ends up coming off as a bit of a tough guy, which is just not what I am like at all. I remember I took a karate class when I was around seven, and my sister, who's a year and a half younger than me, got further than I did.
I am not manly, but Beard kind of seems that way. It's kind of fun to pretend to be intimidating when I know how much I am not.
Nick, you have quite the knack for playing a character who's rather timid but is packing a bunch of hidden talent. What can you tell me about getting involved with Ted Lasso and about your character?
Nick: I very much auditioned for the part. Obviously, I was a fan of Jason's. I'd seen the original Ted Lasso sketches, as well, of Jason and Brendan. So when I read that there was going to be a sitcom version of Ted Lasso, I was, obviously, automatically intrigued, and I thought the scripts were great.
I think I'm right in saying that I originally auditioned for Higgins, and then I came back for Nathan. I think I was shooting another show at the time. So I had to do the tape, like in my dressing room of another show, and it was really rushed. And I remember thinking I've had to rush it and maybe blow my chances.
So I was delighted that it worked out. Nathan is a bit of a General Dogsbody, at least in the first instance. But he's very knowledgeable. He just doesn't really have the confidence or the platform to show how knowledgeable he really is.
But when Ted comes over, he instills some kind of level of confidence in Nathan that builds as the season progresses. It was nice to have a character that goes on a bit of a journey, and by the end, he's very much part of Ted's support network, and Ted is asking him for advice. And so it felt nicely balanced in that respect.
What is your favorite part of playing those characters that seem so unconfident at first? Because I think you do that as well in your show Intelligence. So it seems like that's kind of your bally wick. Why is that?
Nick: It's probably cause it's maybe a bit of who I am. I guess, in intelligence, my character is quite happy, go lucky, and sort of almost quite bulletproof in that respect. Whereas I think with Nathan, he feels genuinely quite downtrodden, and he's bullied a little bit in the workplace, and it definitely affects him.
But I don't know. I guess I'm quite short as well, so I've never really had that leading man or alpha presence in the room. Whether in real life or on-screen. I think I naturally feel an affinity to some of those parts, and it's quite nice because, especially with Nathan, he goes on that journey.
So he starts off somewhere, but I knew there was somewhere to go, like Brendan. Jason had let me know the plan for how the series unfolds, even though I hadn't seen the later episodes; the scripts of those were still being finished off. I had tempered the performance a bit. I love playing parts like that. It feels right.
So something that I find fascinating is how many of you on the show are not only actors, but writers, as well.
What kind of influence does that have on the creative process behind the scenes? What kind of discussions do you all have and have they been open and susceptible to do your input on your characters?
Brendan: Having been in the actual writer's room, I've certainly been able to get my two cents in there and help guide that process. And Brett [Goldstein], who plays Roy Kent, is also one of the actual staff writers, and we thought the show was all right.
[chuckling] But then every time we come to set, there's Nick with his, 'I'm a writer too' rewrites and new monologues for Nate, and here's a love scene between Beard and Nate, and it's like, 'dude, come on, we tried, give us a chance.'
Yes, everything he brought to the table was clearly better than the drivel that we had come up with, but we just had to give it a shot. Come on.
Nick: I agree with that wholeheartedly.
What's it like doing an American sitcom in the UK?
Nick: It's quite strange actually because, obviously, a lot of my background is doing UK sitcoms in the UK.
Strange, but then because the premise of the show is about an American being the fish out of water and the fact that it was an Apple show and we knew that it was going to have that transatlantic appeal on both sides of the Atlantic, you quickly fall into it to a rhythm.
I mean, the biggest difference I felt was just the fact that UK sitcoms are usually six episodes, and over in the States, it's more like 10 or 13 episodes. You just get that luxury of spending more time with the character. Particularly with Nathan, my point of view was that because I knew there was a journey, you could pace that journey a little bit.
You just become more ingrained into the whole fabric of the show then. And just by the fact that you're spending more time together as well. You just grow a lot more comfortable in each of the sort of space. I mean, I think you just improve, as well. Your acting gets better.
Everyone picks up on turn a lot quicker, just because you've got the luxury of a little bit more time. Obviously, you have to film more episodes, but still, it felt really fun to be doing ten episodes as opposed to six, which is what I'm more used to over here.
And what about you, Brendan? Do you find it any different? I know you were also on Bless This Mess this year, right?
Nick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh yeah, which was really fun.
What's the difference?
Brendan: The actual, experiential difference is having an English crew. Me and Jason, most of the time, we're the only Americans around. And for some reason, there was a real extra sense of satisfaction in hearing the English crew laugh.
I don't know why I assume this, but I sort of assume that they would be a tougher sell on things. And maybe they wouldn't necessarily cotton to our feeble attempts at replicating their patois. But the crew seem to get into it. And when the crew was on board, that was one of the first times it felt like this show might be all right.
Also, English crews are much quicker to have a drink with you whenever we're filming on location near a bar. And that just kicks off the bottom E in a really powerful way.
That's interesting that Ted Lasso and Coach Beard are fish out of water, and you two are actually fish out of water on the production side. Did you run into anything similar to Ted and Beard when it comes to coaching, perhaps with regards to production?
Brendan: In regards to coaching? Back when we shot the first commercial part of our deal was that they would then fly us out to see a football match. The guys hadn't been to a Premier League game before, so we went to see Arsenal play at Tottenham, and they kind of VIP treatment-ed us, that's a word, in a way that we weren't expecting.
And so we sat down in this little table with some Tottenham legends. Then the actual assistant coach of Tottenham came in before the game started to, like, tell just this little group of people what the lineups were for that day, and what Tottenham was going to try to do against Arsenal.
And Jason and I are just like very respectful and polite, and like, we can't believe we're getting all this Intel. It felt like a spy dossier was being leaked to us.
And yet the big Tottenham supporter in the room, just some rich dude who loved Tottenham, just kept haranguing the assistant coach. We were like this guy giving us information. This is fantastic. But this supporter just kept saying, 'Oh, Stephan. Where are the goals going to come from? What about the test? Where are the goals coming from?'
It's like, dude, this is the coolest thing that's ever happened, and you're complaining. I cannot believe this. We didn't know how to behave in that room at all. I don't know if that informed anything. That was our first experience, really feeling like we are not football people, but we love football and being around it.
Ted Lasso has so much heart to it. And the characters go on such beautiful journeys. It's still really raunchy and funny and hits all of the sporting requirements, but it also opens up to a much broader audience.
What do you think that this means, especially in 2020, that such a feel-good show with so many positive messages is hitting just as people really need it?
Nick: I think it's a great thing. Sorry, Brendan, you go ahead.
Brendan: No, go ahead, you. I love your voice more than I love mine.
Nick: There's been a real kind of fashion for comedies of late to be a bit snarky, and some of them are great for that, but it feels quite refreshing to have a show like this, which like you say has so much warmth and such a positive message.
And I think it's going to really resonate with people, especially at a time like now it feels like this is absolutely the kind of show that we need. I really hope people are going to dig it for that as well.
Brendan: Yeah. I enjoy plenty of dark, mean, or snarky comedies, but we've all been locked inside for such a long time now.
And to watch another show where people are being mean to each other, right now there is a certain feeling of like, come on, just be nice. Be nice to that person for once. We can't take it anymore. So if we can be any little comfort from people right now, then that's all right.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.