Brendan Hunt is ‘gezellig’ about the possible return of ‘Ted Lasso’ and Coach Beard

Brendan Hunt stands on the pitch with L.A.'s BMO Stadium visible behind him.
Working with an improv troupe in Amsterdam introduced Brendan Hunt to soccer. “The whole football world opened up. It’s a legitimate cultural experience.”
(David Billet / For The TImes)
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If you know Brendan Hunt only through his “Ted Lasso” role as the laconic Coach Beard, this might come as a surprise: He’s a born storyteller with plenty to say. Hunt, 50, has been on Apple TV+’s “Lasso” train since it began back in 2013 when he and co-star Jason Sudeikis crafted a Premier League ad for NBC Sports. A two-time Emmy winner for the show, Hunt doesn’t take himself too seriously and deeply understands the Dutch concept of gezellig, as demonstrated in the latest season’s episode “Sunflowers.” The Envelope spoke with him via Zoom (during which his DoorDash lunch order arrived) about the joys of Amsterdam and hula-hooping, bad dads and what Apple CEO Tim Cook had to say about the future of “Lasso.”

You spent years working and doing improv comedy in Amsterdam — as did Jason Sudeikis — and this season the show did a whole episode there. What’s the appeal?

We talk about it in the [episode], the concept of gezellig. Like, if you’re worried about something but can’t change it by worrying about it, then why worry? It permeates everything they do. When I used to go to Amsterdam I’d have crazy times, which I would never take back. Now when I go, I just want to stand in the park amidst all these contented people. As I get older, I discovered you can get crazy or you can get chill. Amsterdam is a unique kind of chill.


You went to work with Boom Chicago Improv. Why is there a Chicago comedy improv troupe in the Netherlands anyway?

Because these three guys from Evanston, Ill., had taken some improv classes and took a post-college trip through Europe. Amsterdam was the first city where they were like, “We’ve got to find a way to live here.” This summer, they’ll celebrate their 30th anniversary of being in Amsterdam. They held auditions in Chicago, and you’d hear about this mythical place — and one year I was like, “F— it. I’m in the middle of getting divorced. I live in a studio with a futon. I’m open to change right now. I’m going to audition.” Best random decision I ever made. I was 26.

Brendan Hunt twirls a hula hoop in a nightclub in the "Beard After Hours" episode of "Ted Lasso."
Brendan Hunt was inspired to hula-hoop after seeing a woman in Venice, Calif., doing it.
(Colin Hutton / Apple TV+)

Was being in Europe what turned you into a soccer fan?

Totally. I was vaguely aware of soccer [before]. But in Amsterdam, the whole football world opened up. It’s a legitimate cultural experience. Never kicked a soccer ball for the entirety of my childhood. The closest I came was when someone gave me a Nerf soccer ball, which was yellow with blue [hexagons]. I picked out the blue so the whole ball would still be yellow. That’s how much I cared about the sport.


There’s a lot to unpack with “Ted Lasso,” but one thing I enjoy all the time is the emphasis on male friendship.

There’s a theme of “bad dad” that runs through the show, but just because you had a bad dad doesn’t mean you need to re-create whatever the problem was with every dude you meet. It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to share your hard times. My dad’s dad died when he was 4, and he was the youngest of six siblings. All the rest were women. So he’s the only guy in the house, and what that engendered in him was a confusion over what exactly being a man is. He felt he had to prove himself, so he volunteered to enlist on his 17th birthday [to serve in Vietnam]. Lied about his age.

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Was he a better role model after serving?

He was in and out of my life quite a bit. He had PTSD, and he was a bit of a vagabond. He’d come back from Ireland with stories like, “Now, when you sleep in a stable, the great thing is a horse will never step on you.” “Thank you, Dad. Good to know.”

There’s a lot we don’t know about Coach Beard — but does his name lock you into never being able to shave?


I would never shave anyway. I only had a beard in [the original Premier League ad] because I was doing a play at the time where I played a homeless person. So for the first time in my life I had a beard.

Brendan Hunt

The homeless person — that was for the 2013 play you wrote and starred in, “Absolutely Filthy.” And in it, for character reasons, you hula-hooped every time you were on stage. It’s a skill we saw in “Beard After Hours” too. How did that ever happen?

I was staying at a friend’s place in Venice [California], and I saw this woman every day when we drove down Venice Boulevard, this housewife-type person who’d come down the stairs of her house holding a hula hoop, wearing gloves with pads on the knuckles and biker shorts, sports bra, radio headset with an antenna. She’d stand on the side of the road so traffic could see her and hula hoop her little heart out. I was like, “That is the happiest person I’ve ever seen. Why don’t I learn how to do that?”

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Is Apple going to let you have a Season 4 of “Ted Lasso,” or have things just completed with the end of Season 3?


[Apple CEO] Tim Cook came to visit the set one day, and when he had his moment to speak in the middle of the locker room, he said, “Thank you for all your hard work, and I sure hope there’s a Season 4.” The position was made very clear, with a Beard-style modicum of vocabulary. Everything’s on the table now, including nothing. It’s been an all-in job for us for so long that we’re going to go away for a little bit and take a break, and then we’ll reconvene and figure out if something else is going to happen.

Brendan Hunt clings to the goal net at BMO Stadium for a portrait.
“Everything’s on the table now, including nothing,” Brendan Hunt says of a possible Season 4 of “Ted Lasso.”