With two seasons now finished and a third on the way, Ted Lasso is Apple TV+’s first viral word-of-mouth hit. Fans love the story of the good-natured Midwestern American football coach who accidentally found himself coaching a soccer football team and magically made a success of it. But the story behind the show’s creation and these Ted Lasso behind-the-scenes facts will make you fall even more in love with it.
Ted Lasso’s origins are as quirky as the series itself. The show is based on commercials that ran on the NBC Sports network back in 2012 to celebrate when the now-defunct network landed the rights to air Premier League soccer games in the U.S. market. The commercials starred then-Saturday Night Live comedian Jason Sudeikis as a blustery, angry American football coach named Ted Lasso. In the ads, he had just been hired by the Tottenham Spurs (a real Premier League team) to be their coach, and the jokes were based on how the U.S. and the U.K. are two countries separated by a common language. Clips included Lasso trying to call Queen Elizabeth II and generally being the stereotypical ignorant, pushy American demanding a foreign country bend to his expectations.
But apparently, the character never sat well with Sudeikis, who always wanted a second chance to create a better story for Lasso. So when he got the opportunity to pitch the series to Apple TV+, he went in a new direction with the character, still making him an ignorant American, but one whose open heart and good soul bring joy wherever he goes.
But that’s not the only behind-the-scenes story to be told about Ted Lasso. Here are a few more:
1. Cristo Fernández Was A Professional Soccer Player
Ted Lasso's casting process requested tapes of actors reading for the parts and showing off their football chops. That latter request was easy enough for Cristo Fernández (who plays Dani Rojas on the show), since he played professionally for Tecos of Liga MX. But although Fernández is the only one who played professionally, all of the actors who make up the team have football training of some kind; most played in high school or college.
2. Phil Dunster Auditioned For Higgins
Most big shows have these sorts of stories, in which an actor auditions for one role and finds themselves cast in another. In the case of Higgins, not only did Phil Dunster (now known on the show as Jamie Tartt) start out aiming to be Rebecca’s sidekick, but Nick Mohammed, who wound up as Nate, did too.
3. Brett Goldstein Started On Ted Lasso As A Writer
Fans know that Goldstein is both a writer and actor on the series, but they might not know that he was initially not considered for the cast. As he explained on Jimmy Kimmel recently, it wasn’t until he wrote the role of Roy that he realized he wanted to play him. So he sent in a tape, hoping it didn’t get him fired. Thankfully, it earned him the role of a lifetime instead.
4. Jamie Tartt & Dani Rojas Started As One Character
One of my favorite behind-the-scenes tidbits to learn about is how characters evolve in the writing process. For instance, in A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei and Jaime started as one composite evil person before George R. R. Martin divided them into twins. In Ted Lasso, Jamie Tartt and Dani Rojas were initially one character, embodied in Dani, before the writers realized they needed them to be two people.
5. Disney Initially Rejected Ted Lasso’s Request To Use “Let It Go”
Disney is rumored to be very stingy about letting shows that are on a rival network use their stuff. So when Ted Lasso’s producers asked to license “Let It Go” in Season 1, the House of Mouse originally said no. It wasn’t until production sent a tape of Hannah Waddingham’s performance and the scene in question that Disney execs changed their mind. But somewhere on the cutting room floor, there’s a version in which Waddington sings Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” instead, as the song was the show’s backup choice.
6. Ted Lasso’s Biscuits Improved Between Seasons
Fans of the show may remember that post-Season 1, Waddingham revealed the Ted Lasso biscuit props she had to eat were awful. Everyone will be happy to know the recipe is much improved for Season 2, as the props people gave in and started buying her better biscuits. According to Waddingham, it’s because she “had such a global tantrum about their flavor” every time she was asked about it.
7. Season 2’s Manchester City Game Was Filmed At Wembley
Everyone loves filming on location, but there’s something special about filming on a real-life legendary pitch. Ted Lasso’s cast got to do just that in Season 2 for the pivotal Man City game, which was filmed and played in the real-life Wembley Stadium.
8. Nelson Road Is A Real-Life Stadium
AFC Richmond’s home games are played in a real football stadium, Selhurst Park. It’s the home of real-world Premier League club Crystal Palace, which fans may recall beat AFC Richmond in Season 1. That was deliberate; the price for using their stadium came with the stipulation that Crystal Palace had to win if AFC Richmond played Crystal Palace on the show. The more you know!
Ted Lasso Seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Apple TV+.