Why the Ensemble Cast of ‘Ted Lasso’ Should Win at the 2022 SAG Awards

Article Image
Photo Source: Courtesy of Apple TV+

As we prepare for the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards, Backstage is breaking down this year’s film and television ensemble work for your consideration. For more voting guides and roundups, we’ve got you covered here

Main cast: Annette Badland, Kola Bokinni, Phil Dunster, Cristo Fernández, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Toheeb Jimoh, Nick Mohammed, Sarah Niles, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Swift, Juno Temple, Hannah Waddingham
Casting by: Theo Park
Created by: Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, Bill Lawrence, and Jason Sudeikis
Distributed by: Apple TV+

On Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” co-creator and star Jason Sudeikis showcases the kind of charisma you can’t fake. His everyman aptitude (plus his devilish good looks and whip-fast comedy chops) fits the role like a glass slipper—or here, like a leather cleat—on the Emmy-winning British football comedy that has taken TV by storm. 

Inspired by a series of NBC Sports commercials Sudeikis starred in from 2013–14, “Ted Lasso” was developed by Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, Joe Kelly, and Sudeikis. It follows a championship-winning American college football coach who gets scooped up by the English Premier League to coach the other kind of football across the pond. The head of the fictional AFC Richmond club, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), initially hires Ted to tank the team as vengeance against her ex-husband, the team’s former co-owner. But by Season 2, she and others in Ted’s orbit have bought into his relentless optimism, choosing, as he and his blue-and-yellow sign remind them, to “believe.” 

Watching Ted become a surprisingly competent soccer coach—while subplots featuring fan-favorite characters twist in unexpected directions—is a fundamental joy of tuning in to this comedy. The fact that Sudeikis hits every note perfectly—from offering hokey, small-town adages to earnestly trying to connect with his team and his family back home—is just the cherry on top. 

Since it’s an ensemble comedy, the series doesn’t rest solely on Sudeikis’ shoulders. Hunt plays Coach Beard with deadpan hilarity; what little we learn about him comes in unexpected bursts of hilarity, upping this show’s already high laugh-per-minute rate. Waddingham turns what could’ve been a calculating Cruella de Vil type into a complicated, powerful woman with distinct insecurities. Rebecca is steely, yes, but Waddingham slowly peels back the layers to reveal her heart. 

Juno Temple, always a reliable presence onscreen, plays fiery football player’s girlfriend–turned-publicist Keeley Jones with larger-than-life brassiness—but also with a candor that paints her as a woman who wants more from life. The chemistry between her and Brett Goldstein’s scowling, hardheaded captain-turned-coach Roy Kent makes for the kind of couple we can’t help but root for. 

Roy’s not the only footballer we end up adoring. The ensemble of soccer pros assembled by casting director Theo Park play off of each other like the very best acting teams should. Toheeb Jimoh as Sam Obisanya, Cristo Fernández as Dani Rojas, and Kola Bokinni as Isaac McAdoo give as much as they take. Even the relentlessly cocky—but secretly damaged—superstar striker Jamie Tartt (played to slimy perfection by Phil Dunster) leaves you wanting more. 

A welcome addition to the Season 2 cast is Sarah Niles as sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, the one person who seems to be immune to Ted’s onslaught of charm. She also becomes the only person who can break through his emotional defenses; As they move from tense to trustful, Niles and Sudeikis play their dynamic with poignant authenticity. 

Watching Nick Mohammed’s water-boy-turned-assistant-coach Nathan Shelley evolve in an uncomfortably egotistical direction makes for one of Season 2’s most fascinating arcs. Nate comes into his own, with all the ups and downs that entails, expertly charted by an actor who doesn’t need to do much to steal a scene. The same is true of Jeremy Swift’s director of communications, Leslie Higgins. You’re liable to cringe as much as laugh at this veteran actor’s on-camera precision with every microexpression, whether it’s a grimace or smile. 

In a time when we all need it most, “Ted Lasso” may be our favorite comfort binge of the pandemic era—and it’s all thanks to its players. 

Want more? Stay in the loop with everything you need to know this awards season right here!