Sarah Niles Needed ‘Ted Lasso,’ Too
British actress Sarah Niles was, like many of us, a late conversion to “Ted Lasso”. She missed the first season when it rolled out to Apple TV + last year, not having had her first glimpse until her agent sent her information regarding a possible role in Season 2.
“So I watched the show,” Niles explained in a phone interview in mid-July, “and I thought,“ This is really good! This is really what I need right now.
She was hardly alone in the experience. The story of an optimistic American college football coach (Jason Sudeikis) who is brought to Britain to coach a fictional English Premier League football (i.e. football) team, “Ted Lasso “received lukewarm reviews from the start. But to many, the series felt like an emotional balm in a year of controversial elections, protests and, of course, a pandemic – an exceptionally well-being show in one of the worst years in memory. Earlier this month, the show received 20 Emmy nominations, the most ever for a freshman comedy.
Niles’ character Dr Sharon Fieldstone – she was introduced in the Season 2 premiere last week – is a sports psychologist that Lasso’s team, AFC Richmond, brings in to help one of its stars, Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández). Dani is so nervous that he is effectively losing the ability to play, but Coach Lasso has clear reservations about Dr Fieldstone from the start.
After all, what is Ted himself, if not an amateur psychologist – and one who has had a bad experience with the professional genre, thanks to an unsuccessful effort at couples therapy with his wife?
Ted and Sharon aren’t getting off on the best possible footing either. She is not amused by the antics of Ted and his fellow coaches. And his austere demeanor – whenever Ted colloquially calls him “Doc”, she corrects it with “Doctor” – stands in stark contrast to the usual parade of funky jokes and aphorisms.
But Niles, who has appeared in recent years on the acclaimed “I May Destroy You”, “Beautiful People” and “Catastrophe” series, as well as on stage and elsewhere, said she didn’t feel like her character had been brought in. just to be another foil for Ted to win.
“The first conversation I really had about the character was with Jason, who gave me some idea of the character, where she might go on the trip – or where Ted might be going on the trip,” said Niles. “There was so much information. I started to realize, Ah, this is a trip not just for him. It is also a journey for her.
From London, Niles opened up about the trip, having to play a “straight” character on a goofball-populated show, and belatedly learning to ride a bike for the role. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Much of award-winning and prestigious television has been truly dark and sinister for years. And “Ted Lasso” goes in the opposite direction. As a performer, how does it feel to work on such an upbeat and upbeat show?
It is such a good feeling. [During the pandemic,] I wanted to either watch comedy or extreme horror. I don’t know what it was. And it kind of landed on my knees. And then when I watched the show, I was like, ‘Please, my God, I have to get this job. I need to get this job.
Obviously Jason Sudeikis is great on the show, but another of his strengths is that he has an exceptional lineup of supporting characters. When you first watched the show, did you have any favorites?
Watch the relationship between Coach Beard [played by Brendan Hunt] and Ted Lasso is so much fun; they are so good together. I love their joke. I love Higgins [Jeremy Swift], he’s so English, pushing his way through stuff. But I love Roy [Brett Goldstein] because he speaks my language. He has a pot mouth, he swears a lot. And Dani Rojas – “Football is life!” – it just lights up the ground. There are too many, there are too many.
One thing that I think the show has done a good job with, better than a lot of shows, is the female characters. Keeley and Rebecca are fantastic characters, and your role is another one this season. Was it an attraction at all?
Absoutely. When I watched the first season, I really liked the character of Hannah [Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca]. They weren’t afraid to put her in that position where she had power. She looks powerful, she is so big. She’s gorgeous, she’s sexy, and she’s not afraid to take Ted to the floor. And then you have this lovely Keeley. We have a whole history of what we call “wags” [short for “wives and girlfriends”], the kind of women who go to clubs where footballers go because they are looking for a football partner. But she’s really, really smart, really strong. These female characters are so well balanced and they have a lot of fighting in them.
You play a relatively upright character on the show with a lot of people acting awkwardly around you all the time. Is it difficult to play a straight character under these circumstances? Do you already want to crack?
Ouaiaaaahhhh. It is so hard. I’m a little clumsy though. So, I was ready to fool around with them. Very hard, very hard to find that balance because Jason is such a lovable character. It’s hard to keep that balance, you know, to be straight, to keep your cuteness, to keep it all in the air.
“Ted Lasso” does not seem to have become as big a phenomenon in Britain as it is in the United States. Do you have any ideas as to whether this transfers well or why maybe not?
I think it’s popular in the UK. I just think sometimes the Brits can be a little reserved, a little silent on things. I think there are more fans who loved it even later, like me. I mean, I watch Apple TV +. A lot of my friends and other people have said, “Oh, I watched this show. Like. This is the best thing. I don’t know how I missed it.
In the United States, I have the impression that “Ted Lasso” has almost a political, ideological dimension because it’s a show about human decency, and after four years of Donald Trump, there seems to be a desire, at least for a substantial audience, something other than name calling and scapegoating. Do you think it has something like that kind of ideological dimension in Britain, or is it just an American thing?
No, I really understood that very early on. You know England is the – what do you call it? – the brother or brother country. We have our own political challenges. [Laughs.] We are never very far from what you all experience in the United States. I feel like that’s why a lot of people I’ve spoken to have said how badly they need it.
And the pandemic, of course, has been a shared experience.
Exactly. Ted is always full of surprises. I like his name to be “Lasso”. It reminds me of, you know, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which is one of my favorite movies. Do you know “It’s a wonderful life”?
I think of this idea of ”lassoing the moon”. Nothing but the possibility. I can tell Ted is like that. He tires you of his optimism, you know.
I thought of “Ted Lasso” to conjure up some sort of figure from Western America – Sassy calls him the Marlboro Man. But I love lassoing the moon.
Yes. He just has this optimism. You might try to resist it. You could try. But you are going to be infected with it. The way he tells stories. One of my favorite scenes is that dart scene in Season 1. When people assume they got it stuck and they get it. I like his expression: be curious, don’t judge.
Something else that was funny or unexpected?
One of the fun things about this project was the bike. Before starting this job, I did not know how to ride a bicycle. I don’t know what happened in my childhood. I’m going to have to seek therapy to find out why I couldn’t ride a bike. I kind of said to Jason, “Look, I can’t ride a bike. ” He is like [voice shifts to mimic him]: “Oh, don’t worry about that. You will have it. You will have it.
A few people have helped me – family and friends – because there is a park not far from my house. Just enter the park and get on the bike. It was wonderful, actually. You are learning something new. It’s very “Ted Lasso” that you learn something new in life.
#Sarah #Niles #Needed #Ted #Lasso