Phil Dunster has learned a lot from his character on “Ted Lasso” over the past two seasons.
In the series, he plays Jamie Tartt, who remains on a complicated journey during the second season.
“Jamie, on the surface, is someone who is a very troubled, dark individual and is sort of struggling with the darker elements of fame and his ego,” Dunster says. “He’s on this journey of trying to figure out how to be a better person.”
“Ted Lasso” tells the story of the American football coach hired to manage a British soccer team (AFC Richmond) – despite having no experience. But what he lacks in knowledge he makes up for with optimism, underdog determination – and biscuit
s. The second season of the series premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday, July 23.
At the end of the first season, AFC Richmond had been relegated in spite of huge improvements in its performance. Coach Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, tendered his resignation, but it was rejected by club owner Rebecca Welton, played by Hannah Waddingham.
When season two begins, AFC Richmond is in the midst of a long streak of ties. A penalty kick by Dani Rojas, played by Cristo Fernández, looks set to break the drought, but instead results in a freak accident that leaves the happy-go-lucky Mexican uncharacteristically wracked with guilt. This is a case of “the yips,” which even Lasso’s homespun wisdom can’t touch. Despite Lasso’s skepticism, a professional sports psychologist, Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, played by Sarah Niles, is brought in to help.
Lasso finds himself at a crossroad this season. He’s newly divorced, separated from his son and struggling to turn the team’s fortunes around. Although he’s an expert at getting others to open up about their problems, his own pain remains deeply hidden.
Roy Kent, played by Brett Goldstein, and Keeley Jones, played by Juno Temple, are doing their best to live happily ever after, but work, family, life and more work are not making it easy. Jones is thriving in her PR role at the football club as well as her side gig, publicizing the new dating app Bantr. With Kent’s career as a pro footballer now over, he’s trying to convince himself that he’s content to look after his niece Phoebe and hang out with yoga moms as he watches his archrival and former teammate Jamie Tartt, played by Dunster, on the reality TV show “Lust Conquers All.”
Dunster has learned to be more assertive, thanks to Tartt’s character.
“I think that Jamie has strengthened his conviction,” he says. “He’s also a hard worker. Like, the guy clearly adores football. And he’s been playing football since the age of probably like 6. And he’s dedicated to becoming brilliant.”
Dunster likens Tartt’s ambition to that of great athletes.
“If you look at the true greats, like Cristiano Ronaldo, someone who just does not stop until they are the greatest,” he says. “Michael Jordan. Michael Phelps. Alex Morgan. You see these people who are so dedicated to the sport. I think it is known that Jamie is someone who is incredibly hardworking, if not a bit misguided at times.”
Dunster did have some obstacles to overcome while playing the role.
One of them was breaking Tartt’s walls down.
“Jamie has so many walls up,” he says. “Trying to find out why he’s so averse to being open and vulnerable. I’ve been trying to understand the pressure that Jamie feels. He’s been in the spotlight for a long time. What does that do to a person? How does it shape him? I’ve been on the journey alongside Jamie for this season. It’s been thrilling.”