FandomWire’s Oliver Swift had the opportunity to speak to actors Brendan Hunt (We’re The Millers, Horrible Bosses 2) and Nick Mohammed (The Martian, Christopher Robin) about their new series, Ted Lasso.
OS: Hello and welcome to the FandomWire show, I’m Oliver Swift and I’m here with actors Brendan Hunt and Nick Mohammed who both star in the Apple TV+ original series, Ted Lasso, which is set to start streaming this month. How are you both doing?
NM: Very well, thanks Oliver. How are you?
BH: Thanks for having us.
OS: Could you briefly tell us a little bit about the characters you play in the show?
BH: Sure, I play Coach Beard, who is Ted Lasso’s loyal lieutenant. We get the sense they have known each other for a long time, through thick and thin, because Ted isn’t up on such things as the rules of soccer. Despite taking up the job of a soccer coach. Beard is the one who is learning everything, diligently in the background. All the rules, all the history, everything that Ted will need to know to if he’s going to succeed.
NM: And Nathan is a bit of a general dogsbody. He’s the club’s groundskeeper, who’s picked on, to a degree, by some more of the bullish players on the team. But when Ted comes over, he sees something in Nathan, and instils a certain confidence in him and allows him to come out of his shell over the course of the season, to the extent that Nathan is really there for Ted, as part of his support group. He has a bit of a journey to go on, does Nathan.
OS: Brendan, having been in the original sketches that were promotion for NBC, were you surprised that there was going to be a series adaptation and were you at all concerned that it could make the leap from a sketch to a ten episode show?
BH: If you had told me when we were shooting the first one, yeah, I’d have been crazy surprised. That first one was like, ‘hey, we’re going to England for four days, woo’, and that was it. But once we started to see the series as a possibility, we just started to make sure it would be viable. It can’t be one joke that works for five minutes, that we’re then stretching out into 300 minutes. So, we’re really putting effort into making the world real and the character more grounded and the comedy a little less broad. And hopefully, those things have made it a more durable experience.
OS: Great, thank you. And Nick, as well as an actor, you’re also a show runner. You created and wrote the series Intelligence, which you star in with David Schwimmer. With that show behind you, how difficult, or easy, was it to go onto a project like this were you could mainly just focus on the acting?
NM: I would say it was a welcome relief to kind of go from a job where you’ve got your exec producer hat on, your writer hat on, and acting hat – it was actually only ten days from finishing Intelligence to going onto Ted Lasso. So, it was a relief to go into an ensemble where I could focus on the acting. It’s also a really warm bunch of people, cast and crew. It felt really easy to be able to concentrate on this one thing. It was nice.
OS: Awesome. Both of you have obviously done a lot of comedy – in terms of personal preference, do you prefer working off the cuff or sticking to the script? And was there much room for improv in this series?
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BH: Going into this, Jason really wanted this scripted and I think that’s the right way to go, because what it allows you to do is have a foundation to draw from and you can improv on top of that, as extra spice. I think that is what I’d prefer to do now forever, because it doesn’t exclude improv, but it makes sure you’re coming in with a strong base. Without that, it’s harder to be particularly aspirational with your show.
NM: I think I’m very similar to what Brendan said. You want that foundation of the script in place, to make sure your stories make sense and your character journeys are going in the right direction. Otherwise, I think the danger is that it can become quite sprawling. But, yeah, it’s certainly nice to freshen scenes with a little improv, sprinkled here and there. It keeps you on your toes and I often had a lot of scenes with Brendan and Jason, who are great at improv, so I’d often be falling on the floor, laughing at them changing it up. We get the scene in the can and then we change it up, so I just had to be on my guard with it, really.
OS: Who would you say, out of the cast, is most like their character in the show?
NM: Jeremy [Swift].
NM: Is that bad? (laughs) I love Jeremy. He’s got some really eccentric hobbies. We heard yesterday he has a collection of puppets. And I know he’s in a band and I think he plays double bass. And I think his character, Higgins, has that side of him too. That side you don’t quite know and then it all comes out. Maybe I’m completely wrong.
BH: No, I think that’s a good shout. But also Juno [Temple]. Juno is just a real breath of fresh air, just like her character, Keeley, in the show. And Juno, like Keeley, is bawdy. She doesn’t care who she’s with, she’s going to talk about things that you should not be discussing. And she will do it, unabashedly. It’s pretty fun to be around.
OS: Awesome. This is for both of you again – if you could coach any sport, what would it be and why?
NM: (laughs) You’ve got to go first, Brendan. I’m so bad at all sport. I don’t think I’d be first on anyone’s list to be coaching anything.
BH: I guess I know, having played some, I know a little more about baseball than other sports. I guess I would try and manage a baseball team. Before I really decided I was going to be an actor, I briefly held the common fantasy of any child of being a baseball statistician. In a sort of Moneyball way, before Moneyball was a thing. So, maybe I would be one percent decent at being a baseball manager. Final answer.
OS: Well, Nick, it’s your turn…
NM: (laughs) It’s technically my turn, sure. I tell you what I’m a big, big fan of. I’m a big fan of tennis. And I do play a little bit of tennis. I mean, I’m not very good, but maybe in another life, I would coach tennis. I wouldn’t really know what to say, but I’d enjoy watching it.
OS: Where would you want your characters to go, if there were to be a second season?
BH: Ibiza. For sure. Just a long three or four episode arc where Beard has been fired and he’s in Ibiza.
OS: A spin-off series.
BH: And he comes back, or he doesn’t. Who knows?
NM: Yeah, I don’t know. Nathan has a lot to prove now, so maybe he’s on his way to become his own coach. Or maybe he’s just going to be bullied back into his usual, submissive self.
OS: We’ll have to see. Thank you so much for your time, it’s been great to speak to you. Best of luck with the show and enjoy the rest of your day.
NM: Thanks, Oliver. Take care.
BH: Cheers, bye.
In the upcoming Apple TV+ original series, Jason Sudeikis plays Ted Lasso, a small-time college football coach from Kansas hired to coach a professional soccer team in England, despite having no experience coaching soccer.
In addition to starring, the series was developed by Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Joe Kelly and Brendan Hunt, and is based on the pre-existing format and characters from NBC Sports.