Apple TV+’s breakout rookie hit and awards magnet Ted Lasso didn’t come about in the usual way for a successful TV comedy series. It emerged out of improv comedy shows that star Jason Sudeikis was doing in Amsterdam, creating a loud, bombastic, very silly Ted Lasso. Eventually, NBC and the English Premier League asked him to do some spots based on it to promote the league’s games, but Sudeikis always had it in the back of his head that this character could make for a great TV series on its own.
It was more complicated than that, as co-creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence revealed when he appeared with co-star Juno Temple as part of Apple TV+’s presentation at Deadline’s all-day Contenders Television awards-season event.
“What made it hard is anytime you’re dealing with IP of pre-existing character or book or reboot TV show, people think they know what it is already, and part of the sales part of the show is tricky,” Lawrence said. “Apple were the only ones that bought this show, and what made it tough was you can watch those old videos of Ted Lasso, but he’s not a guy that’s going to scream and be a rube. It’s going to be kind of a quieter show in some ways, and maybe a more emotionally sophisticated show, and also, it’s going to be less slapstick-y and more about forgiveness and empathy and optimism and stuff,” he added about the evolving nature of the title character.
“So, it was tough because I watched those videos and found them, admittedly, hilarious, and I didn’t even see how that was going to be a TV show at first until Jason and I really started talking about it.”
For Temple, who has one of the two key roles for women in the series about an American football coach who comes as a fish-out-of-water to coach a British football (ok, soccer) team, it was a chance to do comedy, something she had done little of before. She said she loved the tone of the show and how it all stems from the unique demeanor of the title character.
”I think that it does trickle down from the fact that Ted Lasso is somebody that really does empathize with people and somebody that really does have this positivity on how to get through life, and wake up, and get out of bed and make it through a day, and then go to bed again, which sometimes is really hard,” she said. “He does it with such genuine conviction and comes from a place that is just very, very real, that then kind of created this universe for these other characters where you are checking in as yourself, but you also check in with your character to make sure that you’re not faking it. Do you know what I mean? Comedy for me was definitely a new adventure, something that I am still overwhelmed that I’m doing it.”
Check out the conversation in the video above.