‘Ted Lasso’ star rallies around belief, love and laughter
“Every experience I go through — marriage, my public life, my personal life — I’m learning as I go,” says Jason Sudeikis, whose hit series “Ted Lasso” returns Wednesday on Apple TV+.
March 9, 2023 - 8:50 am
“Every experience I go through — marriage, my public life, my personal life — I’m learning as I go,” actor Jason Sudeikis says.
That includes this Zoom interview on a Monday morning. “Do I look at this camera or that camera?” the 47-year-old star of “Ted Lasso” asks. “I don’t want to show my bald spot.”
Fans probably wouldn’t care. They’re just counting down the days until the third season of the wildly popular dramedy debuts Wednesday on Apple TV+.
The series, which has won 11 Emmys, including outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for Sudeikis, follows an American college football coach who moves to London to manage a struggling English football team. “Me being called coach, very thrilling. I don’t know if the people from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ are called doctor, although that requires a lot more schooling,” Sudeikis jokes.
The Kansas native spent two years in the early 2000s performing with The Second City sketch troupe at the Flamingo. He also worked for a decade on “Saturday Night Live” as a writer and a cast member and has starred in movies including “We’re the Millers” and “Horrible Bosses.”
Sudeikis lives in Los Angeles, where he co-parents children Otis, 10, and Daisy, 7, with his ex-girlfriend, actress and director Olivia Wilde.
His good life tips:
Get rid of negativity
How did Jason become Ted? Truth is, the character refused to be the antihero. “I didn’t want to play a character who was negative, snarky or not curious. That character had been played wonderfully in Don Draper, Tony Soprano and Walter White,” Sudeikis says. “How could I add to that conversation? It was like spitting in the river; it wouldn’t matter.” Instead, he leaned toward “a playfulness, but there was also a need for this character to come from a loving place. … Imagine a show everyone wants to watch that is about belief and love. That feels pretty good even just thinking about it.”
Make an emotional impact
Sudeikis says many people tell him: “Ted Lasso saved them during the pandemic.” His take? “I would have preferred that people go on date nights and kids go to school versus a pandemic,” he says. “But, if we had to stay home and this show helped in a weird, odd way, then I’m very happy to have obliged. If we got families through one of the most difficult times of their lives, then I’m grateful. It matters. It’s warm and flattering. … I know the show helped me.”
Treasure life’s surprises
He says he never expects hits. “You can only hold so much in your head, and then you wait for the invisible to become visible,” Sudeikis explains. “When good things happen, you drink it up. Life can harmonize so easily and you find wonderful surprises, the kind that you’re hoping for or manifesting.”
Let the secret out
A Season 2 plotline had Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) leaking to the media that coach Ted Lasso has panic attacks. “People do hide the fact that they have anxiety,” Sudeikis acknowledges. “They don’t want to tell people. It’s their dirty little secret. It’s a burden to carry those kinds of secrets and a relief to let it go or just share it with one other person.”
We’re all the same
Sudeikis learned an important lesson while working in comedy clubs and with The Second City. “I did comedy for people all over the world and found such great satisfaction because the jokes that worked for local audiences also worked in Amsterdam and in other countries,” he says. “Laughter is laughter.” Realizing what makes us all laugh, he adds, is a key to Sudeikis’ happiness. “If you have the opportunity to travel, you can meet as many people as you can, which is one of life’s joys. You can have conversations about the things that make us all laugh and cry. It’s all the same, which is joyful and comforting.”
“Doing something you give a damn about with people you give a damn about is important,” he says of living the Lasso way. “If you can find a way to do that even for 20 minutes a day each day, I think your life will be richly rewarded. It will actually be thrilling.”
Believe in yourself
It’s a theme that runs through “Ted Lasso”: Believe. “I don’t think we coined the term ‘believe.’ Religion was there first,” Sudeikis jokes. “But whether we have the desire to believe in ghosts or in love or in magic or the joining of those lovely things, it’s important to believe. Believe in yourself. … It’s funny, but I saw the word believe in my head and typed it into our first draft of the pilot of the series. It’s a powerful word. We’re just borrowing it for a little bit.”