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INTERVIEW: Hannah Waddingham and Jeremy Swift Talk Ted Lasso

FandomWire’s Oliver Swift had the opportunity to speak to actors Hannah Waddingham (Game of Thrones) and Jeremy Swift (Downton Abbey) about their new series, Ted Lasso.

OS: Hello and welcome to the FandomWire show, I’m Oliver Swift and I’m here with actors Hannah Waddingham and Jeremy Swift, who both star in the Apple TV+ original series, Ted Lasso, which is set to start streaming next month. How are you both doing?

HW: Good, really good.

JS: Excited.

HW: It’s nice to finally be able to be talking about our baby.

JS: Yeah, it’s been a long time since we wrapped. It was the end of November, early December. So, it’s quite a long time from that to the TX (TV broadcast) date. We’re just excited to talk about it again.

OS: Yeah, well I’ve only seen the first four episodes so far, but it’s looking good and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest.

HW: I think the thing that they’re doing well is dropping the first three episodes on August 14th and then every Friday is a new episode. It gives people a good chunk to put on, like a new sweater, and then eventually I’m sure they’ll find everyone to be old friends.

OS: Yeah, it’s definitely a different tactic but it should work. I was just wondering if you could briefly tell us a bit about the characters you’re playing.

Ted Lasso
Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham in “Ted Lasso,” premiering globally on Friday, August 14, on Apple TV+.

JS: I play Higgins, who is kind of the secretary of Richmond football club. He is been around for quite a bit in Richmond and he used to be the secretary to Rupert Manion [Anthony Head], who was the owner of the club until the terrible acrimonious divorce and then, Rebecca took over the club. Higgins had to do some dirty duties for Rupert, practically he was a pimp, and kind of betrayed the friendship with Rebecca, so she uses that against him into taking revenge on Rupert. He’s a character stuck between a rock and a hard place, he has to do this because he’s got a whole bunch of kids, so he’s a little bit trapped by circumstances. But with hilarious consequences.

Also Read: INTERVIEW: Scrubs Creator Bill Lawrence Talks New Show Ted Lasso

HW: And Rebecca, obviously she becomes the owner of the football club and I don’t think that that’s by any mistake there. Jason [Sudeikis] and I discussed it that I would like it that she very much went after the club because she knew that it was Rupert’s baby and she had been around it enough to have the confidence to lead it herself and show people she’s not just some trophy wife. And the way that she was going to exact her revenge, as Jeremy puts it, is to make sure the thing that Rupert loves most in life is going to be absolutely destroyed. He’s not going to play her anymore. But, I think the nicest thing for me, as an actress, was that I got to not just play the one dimensional Cruella de Vil. Jason and the writers find ways for the audience to see her humanity and see why she’s actually been left a bit of a crumbling mess under her very expensive Prada outfits.

JS: Yeah, you’re gonna enjoy how it develops, Oliver.

Ted Lasso
Jeremy Swift in “Ted Lasso,” premiering globally on Friday, August 14, on Apple TV+.

OS: It’s actually leading into what I was gonna talk about. Obviously, out of all the characters in the show, you’re probably the antagonists but it’s probably hard to call you villains. How satisfying was it to be able to play that kind of role where it’s fully fleshed out?

HW: Yeah, it is, it was fully fleshed out. But all the while, Bill Lawrence [showrunner] in particular, would say ‘let it be yours now, let it be yours to play around with and check in with us and we’ll have a dialogue about it’. And I think, as an audience member watching the series, I think that really comes through. Each cast member has taken the ball and run with it and taken the jump with their character and just expanded it, so I’m really looking forward to people not seeing it as just a football comedy, but as every shade of humanity, really. We do have people from all over the place in it, all different age groups, and I think now, particularly, when we’ve all been having such a strange time, I just think that accidentally, this is a pretty perfect time for Ted Lasso to drop.

JS: Yeah, I think it’s such a charming and uplifting show. I think it’s quite a healing show, it’ll put you back on an even keel. There’s a lot of anxiety out there at the moment and this is the show to quell it, I really feel that.

Ted Lasso
Hannah Waddingham in “Ted Lasso,” premiering globally on Friday, August 14, on Apple TV+.

OS: I 100% agree. In that case, do you think that should make Ted Lasso an inspiration to us?

HW: I hate to admit it, but yes, unfortunately.

JS: (laughs)

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HW: I mean, it takes her a while. Rebecca is the last one to actually hold her hands up and go, ‘yes, OK, you’re a wonderful human being and you’re actually a really good football coach’. But the way you see all the parts of his life falling apart and yet he’s still giving, giving, giving. It certainly massively affects Rebecca and Higgins’ relationship, as well. She literally thought ‘I’m gonna bring this guy in and he’s going to absolutely burn this place to the ground, job done’, I don’t think for a second she thinks he’s going to come in and do all the wonderful, positive things he does.

JS: That’s a really good point, Hannah. If they hadn’t thought to have that kind of major problem in his life, it could possibly make him seem smug, but the vulnerability makes him even more enjoyable to watch. Jason is fantastic in the role, he’s just got so many cards to play.

HW: Oh, he’s heartbreaking. I think he’s heartbreaking.

JS: And hilarious. He can just do it all, he’s very annoying.

OS: You two obviously share a lot of screen time together, how would you say you worked together? Did you have different acting techniques, different styles?

HW: I genuinely wasn’t aware of what either of was doing, it just felt completely natural from the word ‘go’. And I don’t think either of us particularly thought it through, it just felt like it worked for me.

Ted Lasso
Hannah Waddingham and Jeremy Swift in “Ted Lasso,” premiering globally on Friday, August 14, on Apple TV+.

JS: I think one of the things is that we are both a bit musical. I think with comedy, there’s a lot of rhythm. I think we both had that and we knew how to knock it back and forth.

HW: And also, just thinking about what you’re saying with each other rhythms, I don’t think there was ever a moment where, obviously we’re aware we’re having to play a hierarchy between us, but as two old theatre turns, there was no one more important than the other one in the room.

JS: No, absolutely.

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HW: We were just getting done what we need to get done. When you come from theatre, it’s massively a collaborative effort. There’s not one star in front of the camera and the other one supporting or vice versa. And that’s what I enjoyed about it.

JS: Yeah, they were great, fun scenes. So enjoyable to do.

OS: Well I’m out of time so thank you very much. Best of luck with the show.

JS: Thank you, Oliver.

HW: Thank you, Oliver. Watch the rest of the series, my friend, I think you’ll enjoy it.

OS: I will, don’t you worry. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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. 

Written by Oliver Swift

Oliver is a London-based writer who contributes to FandomWire, Animated Times, the Curzon Blog and Ollywood Reviews. His favourite superhero is Hawkeye and his favourite superhero movie is 'The Lego Batman Movie'.

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