Not all actors are former professional athletes or, for that matter, former soccer players.
But discovering some who were, such as Cristo Fernández, who plays the wildly hysterically funny Latin American soccer player Dani Rojas in AppleTV+’s Ted Lasso, was a feat worth screaming “goal” about for series co-creator Bill Lawrence and casting director Theo Park.
“Anybody we cast is going to have shootable football-soccer skills, so that we don’t have to stunt double everybody,” added Lawrence about the types of actors the production was looking for in its first season.
We talk with Lawrence and Park today on Crew Call about assembling the losing English Premier League team, AFC Richmond, which fish-out-water-Kansas native yank coach Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, is tasked with overseeing. Unlike other comedy series on streaming and cable networks, which are devoted to casting established character actors and comedic faces, Ted Lasso rolled the dice on a number of fresh faces from the UK (at least to U.S. viewers) to winning results.
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When it came to filling out the ensemble for Lawrence, “If you have the lead of your show already cast and you’re picking the planets (which) circle around him if he’s the sun,” it’s a slam-dunk.
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“Once you had him (Jason) at the center, it was a free-for-all filling the pieces we put around him,” added Lawrence.
The Scrubs creator had been yearning to work with Sudeikis for some time.
“When you talk about looks, he’s an enigma: That dude can be a silly male comedic lead, a handsome male dramatic lead, an arch comedic villain,” says the co-creator. Tune in below to listen to our conversation. Park is the casting director on Amazon’s upcoming ambitious Lord of the Rings series, and has worked in the casting department on such mega films, which quite often are shrouded in secrecy, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Out of the gate this awards season, Ted Lasso has already logged a Golden Globe win for Sudeikis in the Male Actor Comedy Series category; three Critics Choices awards for Comedy Series, Sudeikis Best Actor Comedy, and Hannah Waddingham in the Best Supporting Actress Comedy Series category, and two WGA wins for Comedy Series and New Series.
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