He shoots! He scores! How Jason Sudeikis won our hearts with Ted Lasso

Like Reynolds, Sudeikis is sporting a mustache, which he has grown to portray the titular role of an American football coach-turned-British Premier League soccer team manager on the beloved Apple TV+ comedy Ted Lasso.

Despite knowing almost nothing about soccer, Sudeikis’ optimistic character – who’s far more capable than his golly-gee demeanor would make one, well, believe – is confident he can manage the struggling AFC Richmond, with help from his soccer-savvy assistant Coach Beard .

“I truly think if we had not taken mushrooms that day, Ted Lasso does not exist,” says Brendan Hunt, 48. In 2000, Hunt was performing in Amsterdam with an improv troupe when Jason Sudeikis visited the city.

“We beat out a pilot and then it sat dormant for a couple of years,” recalls the actor, whose hands were full with other projects, guesting on Fox’s The Last Man on Earth and exec-producing another sitcom, Detroiters, for Comedy Central.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to do your thing, but do you have any interest in doing this thing of mine?’ My ego was hurt for a second.

“But Brendan knows all the football.” Goldstein was also cast as Richmond captain Roy Kent, who embarks on a relationship with Juno Temple’s social influencer-turned-branding consultant Keeley Jones.

Case in point: Sudeikis used classic Ted Lasso-style tactics to get a reluctant Waddingham, a musical-theater veteran, to perform Frozen’s ballad “Let It Go” during an episode where Rebecca takes part in a cathartic night of karaoke.

“They’re enjoying it and I’m not having to be embarrassed about playing a naked werewolf,” adds the actress, who portrayed literally that in the 2012 film Jack & Diane.

Popularity aside, Sudeikis is conflicted about his show having seemingly benefited from premiering during the pandemic.

The actor caused a storm in a teacup by wearing a tie-dyed hoodie when he remotely accepted the former, and then a “My Body My Choice” sweater when he appeared on the SAGs.

“I used to be like, ‘Oh, it’s me on a few beers.’ I don’t know, man – it’s tough to live up to,” he says, seemingly amazed that the character has become well-known enough that this could be a problem.

Hunt says the idea of Lasso having problems at home predates the real-life events – the story line was conceived back in that original 2015 session with Kelly and Sudeikis, confirming that this is a case of life imitating art, rather than the other way around.

Sudeikis also offers a glimmer of hope that he might continue the show after Apple inevitably backs the money truck up to his door.

Word is, the character will address the personal issues that led Ted to suffer a panic attack last season when he was faced with the prospect of signing divorce papers.

Will TV viewers continue to be enamored with Ted Lasso now that the worst of the pandemic is behind us? “I don’t worry about any of it,” Sudeikis says.

For more on Ted Lasso and our “99 Ways to Spend 99 Days” summer guide, order the July issue of Entertainment Weekly or find it on newsstands beginning June 18.

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