Jason Sudeikis: 'Ted Lasso' Apple TV+ Character Inspired by Robin Williams, Mr. Miyagi and Obi-Wan Kenobi
"Ted Lasso," a TV show that came to Apple TV+ in August, has proven to be popular with viewers thanks to its humor and uplifting positivity.
In the series, Jason Sudeikis plays the titular character, who is a small-time college football coach from Kansas that's hired to coach a professional soccer team in England. Sudeikis this week did an interview with Variety where he discussed the origins of the character.
Ted Lasso predates the Apple TV+ series and was a character conceptualized by Sudeikis for the 2013 NBC Sports English Premier League coverage. According to Sudeikis, Ted Lasso was inspired by Robin Williams' mentor roles in films like "Dead Poets Society," "Aladdin" and "Good Will Hunting." Obi-Wan Kenobi was also an inspiration, as was Mr. Miyagi.
"(The character) is rooted in these teachers here, and mentors, these Obi-Wan Kenobi types that see more in you than you can see in yourself, and that optimism. Having played athletics through college I would say the greatest coach influence was one I never had but a fellow named John Wooden who was a great basketball coach from UCLA and his teachings were things I really took to when it came time for me to stop playing sports and focus on the arts. [...]
Just these men leading men to be better than society needs them to be and calling upon themselves and I find the ability to do that and to be vulnerable in that experience and not just, you know, what do they say? hair dryer? like a coach that just yells all the time. That's a style, but I just never really gravitated towards that and I never responded to it really as an athlete.
We wanted someone that when they spoke, you know intelligently from a high EQ (emotional quotient) and then sort of celebrated the divine feminine like it was a little bit more empathetic and a little bit more seeing something invisible that they can unlock within that person within the relationship between the two.
On the topic of the show's success amid the ongoing pandemic, Sudeikis said that he's heard "quite a bit" from people who said Ted Lasso was just want they needed during the difficult year.
I'm flattered that anyone is watching it at all, if they're getting something medicinal from it, that's delightful, but you know, I also feel like a buzzkill to say that I would prefer that our kids be able to go to school and hang out with their friends and be able to go on date nights and people being able to hang out and pubs versus it being the perfect sort of setting for the sadness and sort of sequestered life for this show to land into.
But then I'm also quick to let people know that it was conceived in 2015 and that maybe even if we would have had the show then we wouldn't be in this predicament. Not that this specific show... but maybe just the repercussions... of you know. The appreciation of this show might have been... there's always room for hope and empathy throughout American history.
For those who have watched the series, the Variety interview, which was done over video, also features members of the cast discussing how their characters progressed over the course of the series.
"Ted Lasso" was renewed for a second season right after it premiered in August, and after it proved to be highly popular with viewers, Apple renewed it for a third season so there are many episodes of "Ted Lasso" to come in the future.