Hollywood star Jason Sudeikis: “I can’t thank Spurs fans enough”
Wed 14 October 2020, 12:05|Tottenham Hotspur
Ted Lasso is back with a bang, and the Hollywood superstar who created this cult ‘soccer’ character hasn’t forgotten where it all started back in 2013.
Jason Sudeikis breezed into our training centre, Hotspur Way, seven years ago and swept all before him with his naturally warm personality and wit as sharp as a Harry Kane finish.
At that time, Jason’s character, Ted, was the star of a commercial to promote huge American TV channel NBC’s coverage of the Premier League, the premise of an American college football coach being recruited to coach Tottenham Hotspur, despite having no experience of the British game.
The commercial proved so popular – at the latest count, 14.7million views on YouTube – that another was commissioned a year later. The second commercial now has over seven million views. Then Ted disappeared… until August, 2020, when the first series of Ted Lasso, commissioned by Apple TV in 2019, landed to great critical acclaim in the UK, and was renewed for a second season five days after its premiere.
Joining us exclusively from the US via a Zoom call, Jason, star of US staple Saturday Night Live and films like Horrible Bosses, Hall Pass and We’re The Millers, explained: “In 2015, the idea was kicking around still of this character and my partner, Olivia, said ‘you should really do a show or a movie’ and that got me thinking about it, just thinking ‘what would that be?’
“Brendan (Hunt, actor, writer, producer, plays Coach Beard) and Joe (Kelly, writer) met up for a week, outlined an idea for a pilot, and we were then able to come up with six episodes.
“We wanted to aim high and model ourselves on the British Office, six episodes, six more and a special. In doing that, it proved it had something to it, especially the tone we were going for.
“Then I had kids, Joe created a show called Detroiters, things paused for a while, then the universe brought Bill Lawrence (writer, executive producer) into our lives, the creator of Scrubs, and he had an idea for a show that wasn’t quite right, he asked us if we had any other ideas and I said, ‘there’s this thing, Ted Lasso’ and he said, ‘I love those commercials’.
“We had no idea he’d seen it. He said, ‘let’s do it’ and once I told him what the vibe was, he took right to it. As the saying goes, that guy has forgotten more about television than I’ll ever know, so then, this could be an idea, it took two-and-a-half-years, and here I am talking about it today…”
Jason hasn’t forgotten the role played by Spurs fans back in 2013. “The support for that first commercial, certainly off the bat from Tottenham supporters, and the embracing of it was what allowed us to do the second commercial, and the second commercial led to this deeper understanding of who the character was, and that’s what led to the show,” he said.
“If people wouldn’t have passed that video around and laughed at it, and sent it to their friends, we never would be doing the show. I’d walk through New York, and anyone who stopped me with an English or European accent would always be talking about Ted Lasso, not about some other film I’d done.
“Then, one of my favourites, and you guys will appreciate it as he’s a fan, was that Olivia and me were at a Jay-Z concert and Mr Steve Nash himself (NBA legend, Spurs fan) came up and tapped me on the shoulder. I was like, ‘wow, hey’ and he said, ‘I’m a huge Tottenham supporter’ and I was ‘wow, this is great’, and it’s been amazing.
“So, I can’t thank Spurs fans enough for supporting that first commercial and beyond because we really wouldn’t have had this opportunity without the enthusiasm of the fans, and the club for letting us in that first time. You took a shot on us, and we thank you for that trust, and your continued support.”