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They play BFFs on ‘Ted Lasso.’ These ‘blubbing’ Emmy nominees say it’s true to life

Two women in bathrobes looking up at a TV screen.
Hannah Waddingham, left, and Juno Temple both received Emmy nominations for their performances in “Ted Lasso.”
(Apple TV+)

It’s quite unlikely that the ideal coach for a European football club would come from the collegiate ranks of American football. And it’s even more unlikely that one of the best TV shows of 2020 would come from a promotional gimmick for NBC’s coverage of England’s Premier League in 2013.

Yet both are true of “Ted Lasso,” the Apple TV+ series that stars Jason Sudeikis as a Kansas football coach imported to lead a top-level British soccer team. Unweathered by narcissistic players, relentless reporters and shouting crowds of naysayers, the genuinely egoless Ted chooses to wake up on the right side of the bed every morning, and his unbridled joy becomes infectious to the players and collaborators initially put off by him.

The same goes for Emmy voters, who showered the comedy series with 20 nominations, including for comedy series, lead actor Sudeikis, supporting actresses Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple, and supporting actors Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Jeremy Swift and Brendan Hunt.

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Though Coach Lasso is the heart of the series, it’s the women of the ensemble who elevated the first season of the inspirational sports comedy. Both Waddingham’s Rebecca, the vengeful club owner who relents to Ted’s homemade biscuits, and Temple’s Keeley, a football girlfriend who develops her own voice, are at first grossly underestimated — by themselves, by each other and by everyone else. Until they form an unexpected bond, that is, fueling a refreshing arc that finds “Ted Lasso’s” major female characters becoming genuine girlfriends, not competitive enemies.

The Times spoke with Waddingham and Temple shortly after the announcement about selling Hollywood — and themselves — on such a sincere female friendship and amping it up for its second season. Below are excerpts from the conversation.

‘Ted Lasso’ star Jason Sudeikis recently opened up to GQ about hitting ‘rock bottom’ after a high-profile breakup with longtime partner Olivia Wilde.

Juno Temple: There she is. [waves at camera] Oh, hello, Emmy-nominated Hannah Waddingham.

Hannah Waddingham: [laughs] Hello, Emmy-nominated Juno Temple.

Congratulations to both of you on your nominations. How are you feeling?

Temple: I feel kind of like all over the place right now. And the fact that “Ted Lasso” got all the nominations? I’m so proud of everybody. It’s insane. I wasn’t expecting what happened at all.

Waddingham: I’m feeling a little bit heady and don’t really know what to do with myself at the moment. I feel like I’ve been stunned by some pellet, like, in my neck.

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Well, it seems like you two are actually friends on the show and in real life...

Waddingham: Ugh, I can’t stand her. God, she’s a nightmare.

...which can be quite rare in both settings. Were you nervous about portraying this friendship opposite someone you didn’t meet until the first table read?

Waddingham: I didn’t know about it at first, because I was only given the first episode.

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Temple: The minute you meet Hannah Waddingham, you want to be friends with her. That’s not an issue.

Waddingham: It was immediate. It was a really strange thing that happened. And, as you know, being a woman, that doesn’t happen a lot with women. It seems to be a thing that women are brought up by design to be fractionally pitted against each other, in life and on-screen and all the rest of it. I mean, the luck that it was completely reciprocated from the first time we laid eyes on each other; it was proper love at first sight, it really was.

None of it is forced. None of it is for cameras. And that’s really lovely. If anybody thinks it is [forced], she and I know what we are to each other, and that’s all that counts. And I’m just pleased that that translates to on-screen. Women don’t bolster each other up enough. We not only bolster each other up, we lie down so that the other one can step forward.

Juno Temple, left, and Hannah Waddingham.
“She and I are very much in for the long haul,” says Hannah Waddingham, right, of Juno Temple.
(Apple TV+)

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What do you admire most about each other?

Temple: Oh, my God, everything. I learn from Hannah in my real life, on and off camera, on a daily basis, including things that I don’t want to share. I couldn’t be more grateful for the gift of friendship that has come from this show. And that would have been the greatest gift, had it had the success that it’s had or not…

Waddingham: That’s true. It would’ve.

Temple: That’s been really profound for me. It’s been really important to have such an incredible nurturer come into my life who also is one of the coolest, most generous, nonjudgmental, beautiful, brilliant women I’ve ever met. She’s just the most inspirational woman to any woman she would meet, ever. I just think you’re amazing, Hannah. I think you’re extraordinary.

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Waddingham: Ah, darling. Well, the thing that’s so nice for us is that she and I are very much in for the long haul, warts and all. [Temple begins to cry] And that’s why she’s getting upset, because she knows what we are to each other. And as soon as — stop blubbing, you’re gonna make me blub, woman. Stop it! When the nominations came out, it was Juno’s and Jeremy’s [Swift] nominations that actually moved me the most.

Temple: You were my second phone call of the day. I had just gotten off from my agent and had gone out to light a cigarette and I was like, “Hannah’s calling me.”

Waddingham: When we talk about the “Ted Lasso” vibe, this girl is that in spades: accepting people for who they are, warts and all. And that’s why she’s been such an important piece to be added to my life, because I’ve never met anyone like her. I can’t think of a time when I’ve heard her saying anything unkind about anyone, and being around her makes you want to be a better person. And I don’t mean that in a saccharine way. It’s just a fact.

What do you love about the other person’s performance?

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Temple: I forget it’s Hannah when she’s acting. She disappears. And then the minute it’s “cut,” she comes right back.

Waddingham: I’ve watched Juno for years, and it started for me in “Atonement.” I was like, “Who is this child?” And she and I have so much to do together in this season that I would be sitting there thinking, “I need to stop fan-girling while we’re in a scene together.”

She just makes it look easy. You don’t even realize what she’s doing, and then you see it back, and you just see this beautiful, economic detail. I just can’t believe my luck that we get to share the screen together, and then have made such a huge impact on each other in real life. You’re right. It barely happens in life, but it certainly doesn’t happen in life and in work at the same time.

Hannah Waddingham and Jason Sudeikis.
“The minute you meet [her], you want to be friends with her,” Temple says of Hannah Waddingham (with Jason Sudeikis).
(Apple TV+)

Speaking of Season 2, what are you excited for fans to see when it comes to Rebecca and Keeley?

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Waddingham: I’m excited for them to see that it’s not a cliched thing of them both suddenly having their s— together. They’re both going through some things during this season, and they are absolutely each other’s anchor.

Temple: And it’s about continuing this friendship that actually is a true friendship that is going to go on for the rest of their lives. This season solidifies that even more.


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