Playing Roy Kent on Ted Lasso hasn’t just given Brett Goldstein the biggest success of his career, with an Emmy award and tons of acclaim to boot; the hot-tempered but bookish star-player-turned-coach role has given TV viewers one of the most indelible characters of our time. As a co-producer, writer and executive story editor on the show, Goldstein is a major part of its international success. His next project sees him re-teaming as EP and writer with Ted Lasso co-producer Bill Lawrence for Shrinking, another Apple TV+ series, about a grieving therapist played by Jason Segel, co-starring Harrison Ford.
DEADLINE: When you started writing for Ted Lasso, you hadn’t yet been cast as Roy Kent, so how has playing him impacted writing for him?
BRETT GOLDSTEIN: I always try not to get in the way of Roy pitches, because I know I can be very, very defensive of Roy. So, I don’t want to be like, “No, Roy wouldn’t do that, shut up.” But I definitely have part of Roy [in me]. I think these things always become half you, half the character, always. I think that’s true of everyone. It’s easier for me to talk about the other actors, because I can say, for example, Keeley, we changed the character of Keeley from how she was written because Juno [Temple] was so funny, and brilliant, and kind of unique. We were like, “Oh, we should use a lot of Juno in the writing of Keeley.” There’s definitely the thing that everyone has commented on, which is funny, which is, whenever anyone in the writer’s room pitches Roy, they all look to me. One of the other writers was telling me the other day, he said, “We all look to you and see what your eyebrows are doing, to see if you like the idea or not.” But I’ll usually stay quiet, because I don’t want to be like, “I hate that,” or, “I like that.” But they always check on my eyebrows to see if they’re moving. I think if my eyebrows stay still, it means I probably didn’t like the idea [laughs].
DEADLINE: The show addresses masculinity in ways that we don’t usually get to see, especially in how it involves Roy and Ted. When did you know that the show would connect with people?
GOLDSTEIN: Well, I didn’t know it would be a success, I can say that. And I didn’t know people would connect with it. But I did know that the intention was clear from the beginning in what we were doing, and it came from Jason [Sudeikis] all the way down. So, in terms of when did we know that, we knew that from the beginning. That was baked into the concept. It was about trying to put these things into the world. We never were approaching it as just funny lines. It always had built into it this other stuff.
DEADLINE: It started off as an NBC promo clip and became an Emmy-winning comedy series—does the success of the show still blow you away?
GOLDSTEIN: I’ve said it before, I promise I’m not being humble, or fake humble, or whatever. I honestly didn’t think anyone would watch this show. It was Apple TV, it was new. I thought most people didn’t even know how to access the thing, let alone watch anything on it. I thought, No one is going to watch this. We’ve made this really special thing for us, and no one will ever see it. And I also didn’t know if it would connect. It was half-English, Half-American, and those things often don’t work, and football rarely works on screen. There were so many things that were like, this might not work. I genuinely didn’t think anyone would watch it, so this whole thing is… It’s extraordinary, it’s fucking mad. It’s insane.
DEADLINE: It’s been said the show was only meant to be three seasons—could the success of it lead to more?
GOLDSTEIN: That’s entirely up to Jason. In terms of what we write, we’ve written this like it’s the end. If there were to be more, obviously we could write more, but the story that we’re telling is the three-act story that we were always going to tell, and it ends. I don’t want to spoil it, but most of the characters die by the end [deadpans]. It’s a real ending. It’s a dramatic ending.
DEADLINE: Well, the ending of Season 2 was very dramatic…
GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, and we’ve got to up the stakes!
DEADLINE: Seeing a character like Nate develop—do you think that’s one of the reasons the show works?
GOLDSTEIN: When we plot the story, we have everything on the board in front of us, and we plot it by character. As in, by the character’s history, where is the character going? What pays off? You look at Jamie Tartt, and you set him up as someone we are not going to like, and then you start planting why he’s like this, and then you have a payoff in the end. I haven’t quite got the words for it, but plot is character in this. The characters are the plot; what their history is and what their psychological journey is.
DEADLINE: Personally, what are you most proud of in playing Roy Kent?
GOLDSTEIN: Look, I never, ever take this for granted. I feel like I’ve died, you know what I mean? The fact that it’s the greatest part in the greatest job with the greatest people, I feel so, so lucky. And also, the time in my career that it came, I was accepting, “I think I’ve missed my slot.” I was doing stuff for 20 years, and it was all good stuff, but I don’t think anyone really saw it, or noticed, and I had accepted, “Well, this is it. I think I just make stuff that no one watches, and that’s fine as long as I can pay my bills.” It was a gamble putting myself on tape for it. But I had a real sense, like a calling, for this part in this thing. So, I feel like it’s magic, and I’m incredibly lucky, and terrified it all collapses, and you wake up, and it was a dream.
DEADLINE: How did Shrinking come about?
GOLDSTEIN: That one’s already started filming, so that’s already on the go. I’m working on that remotely from England, while that’s filming in LA. I’ve learned so much from Jason Sudeikis, and Ted Lasso. It’s a hell of an experience to have had. I think the main thing is about intention and making sure that nothing you’re doing is without purpose. What I don’t like doing is filler. There are a lot of things out there that are just content. I hate that word, but there are all these outlets, there’s a lot of stuff that’s just filling a lot of space, and I hate filling space with nothing. Whatever you’re doing, even if it’s a small show, whatever, make sure you’re putting some fucking love into it, and that it isn’t just, “Oh, that’ll do fine for now. That’s funny enough.” I think you should have a meaning behind it, whatever it is. Otherwise, you’re wasting people’s time.
DEADLINE: This is Harrison Ford’s first ongoing TV role. How has that been?
GOLDSTEIN: He’s so far been amazing. I was thinking about it, and he’s always been funny. He’s funny in Indiana Jones, he’s funny in all of his work, he’s naturally funny. He’s not done a straight comedy before, and you’ll have to ask him, but I think he’s loving it, and he’s so funny. When we did the first read-through, he was just killing the room. It was amazing. I think he’s just so excited that he gets to do a proper comedy, because from what it seems to me, I think he’s always wanted to do one, and never quite had the chance. So, it’s amazing to have this man at his age and with his talent, to be able to do something new. It’s very cool.
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