Featured image: Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso, now streaming on Apple TV+. (Courtesy of Apple TV.)
Ted Lasso is a comedy that’s been a hit since its release last summer, a story about the ever-so-positive coach Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis), who goes from coaching a Kansas football team to a championship in America to going to the U.K. to coaching a football team in the Premier League.
There are so many components that make it a great show and yesterday I posted coverage of a press conference with the post-production team behind Ted Lasso and today, here’s coverage for a press conference for some players on the production side, including production designer Paul Cripps, costume designer Jacky Levy, make-up and hairstyling department head Nicky Austin and casting director Theo Park. You can find some cool tidbits below, starting with…
The team facilities and costumes
Production designer Paul Cripps talked a bit about designing the team facilities for AFC Richmond and the locker room, wanting to give everything an open concept between the interlinking dressing room, Ted’s office and their training room.
“When I first read the script it felt very West Wing in [the way] a lot of the conversations were happening walking down corridors and between rooms,” started Cripps. “I wanted to give the camera the opportunity to move between different rooms in the set without having to cut, so all those training centre rooms are interlinked to give a smooth passage.”
Cripps also explains that they used football club Crystal Palace as a reference point and inspiration for much of the look of the club.
“Crystal Place plays in red and blue and there’s a lot of red and blue seats in their stadium,” says Cripps, as the first season was also supposed to be filmed at Selhurst Park.
Costume designer Jacky Levy explains, too, that they designed the logos and badges and had a few different jerseys, or kits, as they’re called in the U.K. “We have a home kit and an away kit and a training kit.”
Dressing and styling Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple
Throughout the series, there are also two very strong female characters in this football world with AFC Richmond owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), as well as Keely Jones (Juno Temple), girlfriend of star player Jami Tart. Both costume designer Jacky Levy and makeup and hair designer Nicky Austin spoke about what it was like dressing both of them.
“Rebecca is a very successful and strong person in the show but she does have this vulnerable side,” said Levy. “We try and make her costumes fit that sort-of powerful position she holds. We try and make her look like she fits in the football world but she keeps her femininity, as well. I think the two can go hand in hand.”
Nicky Austin talks about how vulnerable her character can be and how she’s trying to keep it together despite what she’s gone through with ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head), the former owner of AFC Richmond as Rebecca got the team in the divorce.
“She wanted to be very composed, very together,” started Austin. “Then we get those moments when you see her at home in her dressing gown with her make-up off and her hair a mess, you see an insight into the real Rebecca. It’s things like that when you’re breaking down a script, they make such a difference.
“Everyone can relate to being broken-hearted and at a loss of what to do with yourself but she picks herself up, plusses on the war paint and puts on an amazing outfit and that’s what we wanted to reflect at the beginning of season one.”
For Juno Temple’s character of Keely Jones, she goes on a “maturing journey” from what we see of her in the first episode.
“Her costumes have just become and through the second [season] we’re filming at the moment, slightly more mature,” said Jacky Levy. “Still fun and high-passion but maturing at the same time to match what’s happening in her life.”
“Juno’s so passionate about every aspect of her character,” adds on Nicky Austin. “Keely has a lot of looks, we’re on look 20 so far this season and some of them are a bit wacky and sometimes she’s just at home and we want to keep it real.”
A small community and the U.K. vs. U.S.A. aspect
The series has garnered general acclaim worldwide, but while making it, some of the crew had concerns about the humour hitting in certain areas; namely with the actual U.K. audiences.
“I felt more pressure for the U.K. audience because I felt it was more American humour,” said Nicky Austin. “Football’s such a sacred British institution that I was a bit like, ‘Oh, will the British and European audiences appreciate it as much as the American audience?’ There’s so much, Jason [Sudeikis as Ted Lasso] and Brendan [Hunt as Coach Beard] in particular, their dialogue is so much about American pop culture I was worried more the British audience might not get it.”
When asked about the setting and seeing more of the U.K., production designer Paul Cripps believes the show works so well because it’s focused on one community. “It’s a small character study of a small area and it were more U.K. wide, you wouldn’t get the nuance that you get because it’s in a small area.”
Cripps also believes that the characters of Ted Lasso and Coach Beard aren’t the usual U.K. representation of American characters and that goes against type, and same for the British characters. “Everyone’s got a bit more depth and the more you go through the series, you have empathy for the people,” said Cripps. “I think that’s the byword of the whole series; empathy. You suddenly start to understand why people react the way they do.”
He uses Rebecca as a reference that initially she’s set up to be a villain on the series, but you learn why she is the way that she is. “I think the empathy only works when its’ a small community,” Cripps said. “It’s so brilliantly written because it’s about small characters in a small place… That’s what attracted me to the script initially; it’s a character study of people in a small environment where they’re all pushed together but it has characters that are not tropes. They’re always a bit nuanced and slightly different.”
The casting process, and smaller parts
Casting director Theo Park took great care in casting everyone involved in the series, as she talked about how in the casting process, they’d be looking for funny people but also people talented in the football realm.
“We saw some amazing auditions from actors doing keepie-uppies in a garden with their mate videoing them and stuff,” said Park.
“We did make sure we cast actors who can do comedy, rather than just comedians,” said Park. “We needed to see heart and soul from every single member of the cast. They had to be really strong actors as well as clever comics.”
As well, Theo Park took joy in casting some of the smaller roles in the series, as that’s more fun. “You can let your imagination run wild,” said Park. “You don’t have to worry about casting a name or a known or a whatever, you can just go with the people you know are really good and can deliver. What was really great was I was casting for a bunch of Americans and [the producers] didn’t know anybody and so they thought everyone was fantastic. I just literally showed them all my favourite people and I got all my favourite people in the smaller parts. It was brilliant, a dream job really.”
Switching roles – Jami Tart and Dani Rojas
Casting director Theo Park was also asked about the casting process of Cristo Fernández as fan favourite Dani Rojas, as Fernández has become something of a community star in Mexico.
“That’s an interesting story actually,” said Park. “In the original script the Jami Tart character played by Phil Dunster was originally called Dani Rojas. He was this arrogant star player, tricksy, with attitude, but they wanted him to be from South America, with a Hispanic [or] Latino actor.
“We searched far and wide, I searched here in the U.K. and we had someone looking in America and we just couldn’t find someone right for the part. Phil Dunster was right for the part but he was British.
“In that big search, we got this tape from this amazing guy, Cristo Fernández who actually used to be a pro footballer in Guadalajara, Mexico,” Park said, and explains that he trained for acting in the U.K. for a year and sent in a self tape. “We were like, ‘Who is this guy?’ He’s not right for Dani Rojas because he’s so exuberant and fun and sweet and nice and we wanted the opposite.”
She says that everyone wanted him to have a part in the series even though he wasn’t right for that specific part.
“What they did was they re-wrote the whole script and they made Phil Dunster Jami Tart, as British,” said Park. “They created this whole new character now called Dani Rojas. That’s all down to the genius of two different actors who outshone everybody else that we auditioned, getting the parts written around them. Everything you see [in Rojas], that character is him. [They] wrote that for him, it’s just lovely.”
Paul Cripps chimed in: “He’s literally the best human on Earth.”
Jami Tart himself
As for Phil Dunster as Jami Tart, the bad boy of the series, his look and some of the hairstyles were largely based off of Cristiano Ronaldo. For the costuming look of the character, Jami Tart is a conglomeration of different footballers.
“He’s great to work with, an he as a person is not like Jami Tart,” costume designer Jacky Levy said with a laugh. “When we do the costume fitting, we have a full-length mirror so I’m getting him clothes and he’s looking in the mirror and the minute he has the full lot on, his whole face changes into Jami Tart… Almost his cheeks change he puts the put on and everything. It’s quite fascinating to watch.”
Nicky Austin adds on: “The accent comes out, too, doesn’t it? As soon as I put his tattoo on, suddenly he’s from Manchester. He does it every time.”
The importance of Ted Lasso
Nicky Austin also talked a bit about what the series means to her.
“It’s not just about a football team,” said Austin. “The show is about showing people you don’t have to be the best at anything and there’s a lot to be said about being a really good person. The Lasso way, the way Ted behaves; his patience, his understanding, his forgiveness, his tolerance and the way he looks at life, is something Jason [Sudeikis] himself wishes he could be all of the time.
“The optimism, as much as it drove [Ted’s] wife crazy, and the kindness he extends to everyone he meets… Even someone standing in the street calling him a ‘wanker,’ he says, ‘I appreciate ya.’ If we all could be a bit more like Ted, the world would be a happier, more optimistic place. That’s what I take from it.”
The first season of Ted Lasso is now streaming on Apple TV+, with the second season of the show premiering on Friday, July 23.