We’ve caught Brett Goldstein at the perfect time.
He’s finishing up a full day of virtual interviews, getting ready to reward himself with a pint or two for a hard day’s work of hyping fans up for the second season of Apple TV ’s award-winning sports comedy series, Ted Lasso. And he did it all without slipping up and mentioning a plot point on the fairly lengthy spoiler list the show sent out with its screener package.
Of course, spoiling anything about a show as genuinely funny and endearingly nice as Ted Lasso feels a bit blasphemous anyway, so we’re not laying any verbal traps. Instead, we cover the bizarre experience of virtual writer’s rooms – Goldstein pens episodes of the show while also starring as the temperamental, aging footballer Roy Kent – his character’s growing fandom, and the struggle he’s faced trying to teach Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and the rest of the Yanks in the cast how to brew a proper cup of tea.
So, if you came here hoping to figure out whether Roy Kent is still on the pitch — as he would say, “Fuck off.” But, if you’d like to know why Goldstein calls season two the show’s Empire Strikes Back installment and who he credits for those classic Ted Lasso metaphors, well then …
A Peabody Award or an official Roy Kent Richmond AFC jersey. Which is more exciting for you?
[laughs] That’s such a terrible question to ask me because obviously, it’s the Roy Kent jersey. But the Peabody thing, that’s really meaningful, et cetera.
It’s every Englishman’s dream to be a footballer, though.
Yeah, it’s not only my dream. It’s my dad’s dream. I think the fact that there’s a Roy Kent jersey means more to my dad than the Peabody Award. I think my dad is much more proud of that.
Season one came at the perfect time when we really needed something good. The downside to that was season two, you guys are writing and filming during a pandemic. Was it hard to channel that Ted Lasso optimism?
I cannot tell you how lucky I feel to be in the show, to be part of this show, and then to be able to be writing it during the pandemic. I’d have gone mad without it. I was in my attic writing it on Zoom with the people in LA at night. I was working from 5 p.m. till midnight here, but it was the best part of my day. I love those writers so much. We hadn’t seen each other for a few months and even though it was mad and you’re just looking at 12 boxes, it was … I genuinely have nothing but respect for everyone surviving that lockdown because if I hadn’t had that work to do and been connected with these people, I’d definitely have gone fucking mad.
Were you worried about trying to recreate the magic of season one this time around?
We started writing [season two] before season one came out, so we were quite far into it by the time season one came out. I think Jason said this and I agree with him, I think we’re very proud that we didn’t change anything based on audience reaction. We stuck to the plan because I think it’s very tempting to go, ‘But everyone really loves this thing and we’re about to do this thing.’ Part of sticking to your guns is [realizing] one of the things people like about Ted Lasso is it surprised them. So we have to keep surprising them. We can’t just do the same thing again. Jason has half-jokingly said this season is the Empire Strikes Back. But there’s truth in that. I think it’s deeper and darker and more real and more human and there’s some tricky stuff in there and there’s some sexy stuff in there. But I also think it’s funnier. I think it’s funnier than season one. I think there are more laughs in it per episode.
What is it about Roy Kent that people seem to love?
I think the difference between me and Roy is … we’re actually very, very similar, but I am cursed with a gene that means I’m slightly worried about wanting people to like me. But if I could remove that gene, I would just be Roy Kent all day. And I think perhaps that’s relatable to people. I think he gets to say what a lot of people are thinking and just doesn’t give a shit and that’s very appealing because we all get caught up in caring what other people think.
He does struggle with expressing his emotions, especially in season two. Is that a male thing, a British thing, or a bit of both?
I mean, look, I wouldn’t want to generalize completely because obviously women and Americans also can have these problems. But culturally, I do think Ted Lasso is exploring toxic masculinity in some way. When I was doing research for it, speaking to old football captains, it’s like part of your job is to intimidate people and to not show any fucking vulnerability, to be scary. And if you’re doing that all the time, God forbid you let out any feelings. And then also being British it’s, yeah, it’s very hard to express anything being British.
Ted Lasso loves folksy metaphors. It’s something the character has become kind of known for. You’re in the writer’s room. Who comes up with those?
I reckon it’s probably 90% Jason. Ted’s best stuff, I can’t think any of us can really take credit for. Often, we’ll write a version and then he’ll make it better when he does it on the day. He’ll do a different version based on yours, but it’s much better.