'Ted Lasso' Stars Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple Talk Season 2 and Playing 'Soulmates' (Exclusive)
By Meredith B. Kile
Ted Lassowrapped up its first season last summer as a buzzy new comedy, with early followers encouraging their friends and family to get hooked on the feel-good show, which stars series creator Jason Sudeikis as the titular American football coach, who gets recruited to move across the pond and helm a Premier League club.
Now, as the second season is about to conclude, the show is a downright sensation, with fans around the world and seven newly-minted Emmy Awards to its name, including the top honor, Outstanding Comedy Series.
Ahead of the season 2 finale on Friday, ET scored a Ted Lasso exclusive from Apple TV+, which features the show's stunning female leads, Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple, interviewing each other about how they landed the life-changing roles, what's to come for their characters.
Of wrapping up season 2, Temple noted plainly that she's "f**king proud, but also really nervous... You just want to make people proud."
"Now that we know the success of season 1, you just hope people respond to it in a way that they love our character journeys and still connect with them in a way that they did with season 1," she added, "even if they bring different emotions and new journeys and all that."
Waddingham agreed, noting, "I think season 2 is quite different, in terms of really getting into the dirt."
"The human side of it, that we all bottle up and we don't necessarily want to talk about," Temple added.
The actresses -- who were both nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy at the Emmys; Waddingham won -- initially came to the show in very different ways. For Waddingham, a West End star previously best known on TV for portraying Game of Thrones' "Shame Nun," Septa Unella, it was all very "secret squirrel."
"I wasn't told what it was, who it was for, who had created it," she said of reading the pilot script. "But that actually afforded me the luxury to just go, oh, who is this woman, at face value? That's the first time, I think ever, [that that's happened]."
It's now hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Rebecca Welton, who, in the pilot, is the spurned new owner of AFC Richmond, hell-bent on ruining the team just to spite her lecherous ex-husband. But as the character evolved, so too did the actress.
"Your insight into Rebecca, as a woman, is something that I've watched as we've done press together about it, and learning about how much she meant to you in a deep, deep way, that makes you have such an understanding of her, which is why she's an extraordinary character," Temple raved.
An early turning point for the character, Waddingham recalled, came in a season 1 scene when Ted comforts Rebecca outside of her fundraising annual gala, where she's been upstaged by her ex, Rupert (Anthony Head), and is struggling to keep the cracks from showing on her polished facade.
The pair are at odds, professionally, but when Ted assures Rebecca that she's not the only one who can see Rupert for the cad that he is, something shifts profoundly in her character -- a nod to the bond that's beginning to form between the two. It's a subtle but brilliant bit of acting that Waddingham admitted almost didn't come together.
As a Saturday Night Live alum, Sudeikis apparently has a tendency towards last-minute changes in the script -- "Writing up against the wall," Temple joked -- something that his co-star "balked" at, particularly in the emotionally fraught scene.
"I was like, 'Oh, my god, you can't give me something 10 minutes before we're gonna be on camera," Waddingham recalled. "And he still did, because he knew that I was limiting myself, and I was just like, 'This is getting ridiculous how close to my life this has been.'"
Temple, who plays football WAG-turned-PR maven Keeley Jones, received the pilot first-hand from Sudeikis, and has frequently told the story about how certain she was that the creator and star had her confused with someone else. Better known for darker, dramatic roles, the actress admitted to being nervous about playing a comedic part. Nevertheless, she took a look at the script.
"I hadn't read anything like it," she recounted. "It made you laugh and also made you feel really emotional from the get-go, you know?"
Upon realizing that Sudeikis did, in fact, envision her for the part of Keeley, the actress told Waddingham, "The big sell was, he did talk to me about this relationship between the two of us... It was something he was really passionate about. He really cared about these two women helping each other in ways they didn't know were even possible."
"It feels like they're kind of soulmates, but they didn't know that until the episodes start progressing," Temple added. "By the end of season 1, I truly believe that."
"Our extraordinary female writers do us such a great service," Waddingham raved. "And I love that they have literally gone, go on, do that that gets you out of your comfort zone."
"Don't be shy," Temple agreed. "They're very brave."
Ted Lasso season 2 also thrilled Waddingham and Temple by introducing a compelling new female character into the mix: Richmond's sports psychologist, Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, played by Sarah Niles.
"The first read through that we had on Zoom, and she started reading that character... I was like, 'Oh!'" Temple recalled.
"She brought a very chilled-out, effortless power, and is a brilliant foil to where yours and my characters are," added Waddingham, who also noted that she put in a "genuine complaint" with Sudeikis about not having enough screen time with the actress.
As the show kicks off production on season 3, rumored to be its last, Waddingham and Temple are still counting their blessings.
"I can't believe my luck that you were even back for season 2," Waddingham admitted to her co-star. "I thought, she's so big time, she'll be off and I'll hear Juno's not coming back."
Temple scoffed at the thought. "[Keeley] saved my mental health!" she said. "I wouldn't wanna miss this for the world."
"This whole cast, this crew, this character, everybody... the fact that we get to do it one more time? Thank god," the actress added.
Ted Lasso may be a show focused on a men's sports team, with few female roles, but given the powerful characters the actresses embody and the way the show consistently confronts toxic masculinity in its various, insidious forms, it doesn't feel quite right to call it a "male-driven" comedy.
"I will never forget that moment when somebody said to us, 'This is a show that I want to show my daughter, because of the relationship that you two have created,'" Temple recalled.
"And it really took the wind out of us both," Waddingham noted, as her co-star and friend added, "That's the highest compliment we could get."