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‘Ted Lasso’s Phil Dunster on Jamie Tartt and the Ending of Season 3

Apr 27, 2023


Watching episodes of the Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso feels akin to a warm hug when you most need it, sometimes accompanied by tears that are brought on by a particularly emotional storyline while then being followed by a smile from a funny or triumphant moment of celebration. As the characters continue on their journeys, and they grow and learn, the audience rides a wave of emotions wrapped up in the bittersweet feeling of knowing that it will end, at whatever point that turns out to be.

Collider recently got the opportunity to chat 1-on-1 with Phil Dunster, aka AFC Richmond’s own Jamie Tartt, about subverting expectations, his character’s journey of self-discovery, the Season 1 version of Jamie versus the Season 3 version of Jamie, the pivotal Season 2 hug between Jamie and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein), the challenges of bicycling around Amsterdam, the lovely moment when they got to sing Bob Marley’s “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be All Right” together, the team’s new strategy on the field, how Jamie feels about Keeley (Juno Temple), and that he’s pleased with where they leave things for his character at the end of Season 3.
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Collider: In Season 1, Roy and Jamie were just assholes. In Season 2, they were able to recognize that they were being assholes. In Season 3, they’ve come so far that they can apologize for that now. As far as I’m concerned, that shows real growth. What’s it been like to get the opportunity, as a man, to explore finding that kind of personal growth in a character and getting better in touch with his emotions? Did you know that you would eventually get to this point with him, or was this not an aspect of Jamie Tartt’s journey that you were ever aware of?

PHIL DUNSTER: I didn’t know that we would get to this point, where Jamie is openly telling his biggest frenemy about why he is the way he is and pains that he’s had in his life. Obviously, you hope for a moment when you get to explore this sort of stuff. It’s one of the things that the show does really, really well, doing the thing that you least expect the character to do, whether that be Rebecca going to see a psychic, or Nate tearing up the “Believe” sign, or Jamie telling this story to Roy, or having Roy be the one to hug Jamie when he has the fight with his dad. It’s about how that subverting of what the expectation is, which if I may be so bold as to say, is so good and delicious. It’s great. It’s really nice, in the moment that you’re filming that, to be like, “Let’s serve that as best we can because we’ve been building up to this really nicely throughout the seasons.”

Image via Apple TV+

I love that while he’s grown, all of that stuff within him hasn’t just completely gone away, he can just recognize when he’s maybe going down a path that maybe he shouldn’t.

DUNSTER: Yeah, that’s right. I think that’s it. We wouldn’t enjoy it, as an audience, if we were like, “Oh, Jamie is just a nice guy now.” Jamie’s nice, but with the caveat that he’s still kind of an ass like. It’s still there.

What do you miss most about the Season 1 Jamie, and what do you enjoy most about Season 3 Jamie?

DUNSTER: He’s so conscious of other people’s feelings now. It was so nice when his humor was so at other people’s expense. His hair was a lot less complicated in Season 1. There was a lot of heat treatment going on in Season 3. I could really lay it on quite thick with the unapologetic characterization that he had. That arrogance is really fun to play. The fun, really satisfying bit came when we understood why he was that way. That’s been a real joy, in and of itself, to layer this arrogance with trauma and past experiences that inform him. He’s learning about that, and that then informs his actions, as he goes on.

As audience members and fans of Ted Lasso, we know what the show has brought to our lives. But as someone who experiences it from the inside, what has it brought to your life? How has it been unexpected for you?

DUNSTER: From start to finish, there is so much work that goes on in production, before actors ever come on board. It’s important to remember that the creators started years ago with the NBC commercials, and then to see the progression that it has to Season 3, how the team works together, and how our show is made, has been fascinating. For me, seeing that, I want to direct and I want to produce things now, and maybe write one day, in the future. It’s just another way to tell a story. Acting, I really enjoy because you are literally telling a story. But you can also be the one who is telling that story in a different way. That’s been a really interesting personal growth that I wouldn’t have expected, when we first started it. And I suppose the most important thing is that we get to go to football matches more now, which is nice to get invited to those.

Image via Apple TV+

The scene in Season 2 when Roy hugs Jamie felt like a real turning point for your character. It made him see himself differently, it made the team see him differently, and it made the audience see him differently. It shifted everything with Jamie. Did that scene also impact you, in that moment? What do you remember about shooting that scene?

DUNSTER: I remember that the locker room was loud. There were always a lot of people in there, talking and trying to make each other laugh. and pulling pranks on each other. But with that scene, I just remember there being this sense of deference to the scene. I don’t think anybody had corralled anybody, or made it happen, it just did. I was so grateful for everybody just making sure there was space for me and for Kieran [O’Brien], who plays Jamie’s dad. It was quiet on set, and they allowed us to go through whatever indulgent rituals, as actors, we needed to go through, before having a big scene. I just remember feeling such a sense of gratitude towards all those guys, for having that moment. But yeah, it was a turning point of Jamie rejecting his old life, family, and personality, and embracing the new one, literally and metaphorically.

It feels like we had to have that moment, to get to Roy and Jamie spending time together in Amsterdam. That bonding with each other never would have happened, if they hadn’t had that moment in the locker room. When you got that script and found out exactly what the two of you would be doing together around Amsterdam, what did you think about it? What were you most excited about, with all of that? Did you wonder how you were going to pull all of that off?

DUNSTER: The hard bit for Brett [Goldstein] was definitely always going to be trying to act like he didn’t know how to ride a bike. I can imagine that was very difficult, and he did that very well. But the thing that I was most looking forward to was probably teaching him how to ride a bike. In any relationship, there is the teacher and there is the one being taught. At any one time, that changes and shifts, and it should be very flexible in any good relationship. We see the beginning of that with these two, where literally Jamie is teaching Roy how to ride a bike. In the episodes before, Roy is teaching Jamie how to be a better footballer, how to be fitter, and how to be more exacting in his football. We’ve also seen Keeley teach Jamie how to be vulnerable. This is a perfect and very clear example of that, and there’s lots of those that happen along the way. We see in conversations that it’s a more subtle way, but this was a really straightforward thing, where they’ve reached a point that they can teach each other this stuff.

Did you guys have any mishaps on the bikes that weren’t scripted?

DUNSTER: The scene that we have when we’re cycling along and Jamie is telling Roy about his history in Amsterdam, that was all one shot, so we had to make sure that we got that all in time. It’s 90 seconds, but we didn’t want it to feel rushed. We didn’t want to feel like actors, clearly trying to get it done before that certain time, but there were also only a certain amount of lights. It was a long way, and there were only certain lights that we could rig up. The funny thing was that hair and makeup had to sort us out at the start and make sure that we were looking presentable, but then, because there was nowhere for them to hide, they had to run into the bushes, which was very sweet. (Makeup artist) Nicola Springall was in camouflage in the bushes. That was really hard to do because it’s quite a long monologue and it’s a big moment for Jamie. Trying to make sure that it fit in, whilst also riding a bike at a certain speed, we’ve got it hard, as actors.

Image via Apple TV+

I can’t imagine a more perfect way to end episode six than to have everybody on the bus together, singing “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be All Right.” Even though the team is on a losing streak, they’ve come together and they’re stronger than ever. What was it like to share that moment, as characters and as actors? Had you been familiar with that song?

DUNSTER: Oh, yeah. It’s a classic. It’s that adage you tell yourself, when something’s going wrong or you’ve had a bad day, or whatever. That funny thing is that was shot in Richmond, whereas a lot of that episode was shot in Amsterdam, so it was nice to revisit that moment. But any moment when the whole team is together, and we obviously have a lot of that in the locker room, and you’ve got Rebecca there, it’s great. Any time that Hannah [Waddingham] is on set, it’s just a joy. You see her in interviews, and that’s just her. She is just like that. She’s a beacon of joy. And so, it’s nice to have her there. It was a really lovely moment, and it’s such a great shot, where it tracks back through the bus. That was a really lovely moment.

We know that there’s a new strategy for the team that’s going to get implemented now. With everyone rooting for Richmond to turn things around and have a win that leads to more wins, what can you say about what’s to come, moving forward? Will they have a renewed energy now, after everything they’ve been through together in Amsterdam?

DUNSTER: Yeah. I suppose it’s the way they go about it. It would be very simple to go, “You’re going to be playing total football,” which is the tactic that Ted learns, and then they just start playing it, but obviously that wouldn’t be Ted Lasso. It’s the ways in which that the coaches go about implementing that style of play, which is just deliciously idiosyncratic, that’s the fun bit. They also have to find a way to make that work for the players. Hilarity ensues, but there’s also the conflict between the fundamentals and how they’re working in this framework of total football, being that anyone can play in any position. It’s incredibly impressive, but it’s very difficult to do.

At this point in his life, how does he feel about Keeley? How does he feel about Roy and Keeley? Is he over Keeley? Is he rooting for Keeley and Roy to work it out? How does he feel about the whole Keeley situation?

DUNSTER: Any intimate relationship, and intimate in the sense that it’s someone who has known you very well in a circle of people, has a unique insight into who you are and the way that you tick. She is an incredibly giving resource in Jamie’s life. He has nothing but deep love for her. Probably more than anyone else that he knows, he has this element of appreciation for her that transcends anything physical. I think there will always be that. There’s no full stop on it, and Jamie knows that. He is still who he is. It would be boring, if Jamie suddenly shifted to being a nice guy that was just fine with Keeley popping up now and then, and Roy still maybe liking her. That’s really fun to play, with the moments at which Jamie’s doesn’t have his mind made up. Love and affection is probably the summary of how he feels about it.

Image via Apple TV+

Regardless of whether this is the last season or not, or whether the show morphs into something else, or we get some sort of spinoff, whatever happens, how did it feel to get to the end of the season and to wrap up the three-season story arc that you’ve been telling? What was it like to get that moment, and then to say goodbye at the end of the season?

DUNSTER: There are lots of moments that it was the last time we were doing something, as far as we knew. As far as we knew, it was the last scene that Jamie and Roy had, it was the last scene that the team had in the locker room, and it was the last scene that we had out on the football pitch. As much as I love all the moments of Ted Lasso, sometimes filming on a cold, freezing, snowy afternoon in London is not the one. For some moments, I was glad to see the back of them. There was a scene that we finished, which was an incredibly emotional scene, not only for the characters, but also for the actors, and I think they knew that they wanted to finish there because it was just going to inherently be an emotional scene. They timed it perfectly because we were very emotional. It’s a family, so it’s very hard to get to the end of anything, but it’s also a huge sense of achievement. Like with any job, it’s like, “Wow, we did this together.” That was really instilled in the production.

How do you feel about where you’ve left Jamie, at the end of the season? After shepherding him through three seasons, how do you feel about where he’s left, at the end of this story arc?

DUNSTER: I feel incredibly lucky that we’ve gotten to go to in-depth places with Jamie, to understand why he has been the way he has been, and we look forward to the fruits of his labor, of trying to be better. As with any person, ever, there is so much more to them than can be put into 12 episodes, each season. I’m sure there’s more that I would love to explore about him, but I feel really satisfied that there have been bread crumbs, along the way, for where Jamie could go. I’m so pleased that Jamie is where we end Season 3. It’s just fun. It’s also not like, “And he lived happily ever after.” It’s not simple. It’s not straightforward. But it makes sense for his character, where his character has come from.

Ted Lasso is available to stream at Apple TV+.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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