How Phil Dunster became the MVP of the final season of ‘Ted Lasso’

This story about Phil Dunster and “Ted Lasso” first appeared in the comedy series theme from TheWrap Awards Magazine.

Ask “Ted Lasso” fans to name their favorite surprisingly giant Season 3 storyline and you’ll likely get a unanimous answer: the blossoming bromance between Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster). The relationship would have been unimaginable in season 1, when the two alpha males openly despised each other. But the bad blood was cleaned up with Jamie’s transformation from AFC Richmond bad boy to team darling.

“I made a petition that I signed 25,000 times and gave it to the writers every day to start writing Roy and Jamie scenes, because it was my reason for being for a while,” Dunster said, smiling. “Brett is a big part of why people enjoy that story because you get to see him fighting against his better nature all the time, and that’s a lot of fun. I think Jamie is the opposite of that. He is desperately trying to find the better nature of him, and they are two sides of the same coin.

Jamie always had a certain mischievous charm, even when he was being, as the show’s denizens would say, a jerk. For Dunster, it was important not to blur the edges of the character. “It was always important to me and everyone else that Jamie didn’t just become nice,” he said. “If he was the Teflon-coated version of himself, I think he’s bland and not fun for the audience. It’s not fun to play. The writers were very aware that he was the same guy we knew, but that he made slightly different decisions.”

Brett Goldstein and Phil Dunster in "ted lasso" Season 3 Episode 11

“Ted Lasso” likes to use his actors’ real-life talents to the benefit of the show (Hannah Waddingham’s luscious singing voice, Brendan Hunt’s quirky, breathy expressions), and Dunster was happy to oblige. He played rugby for the south of England, so he enjoys the physicality of the role. “Jamie’s a bit of the class clown and I think I probably have that in common with him, being a bit of a show-off,” he said, citing the somersault he does in the season 3 Amsterdam episode, in which Jamie teaches him Roy to Ride a Bike.

Fan response to 'Ted Lasso' season 3 finale varies as viewers 'experience every thrill under the sun'

One thing Dunster doesn’t share with her character is Jamie’s Mancunian accent, which can turn a word as simple as “yo” into “mae.” “I couldn’t sound like me because footballers don’t sound like me,” Dunster said. “They tend to be Newcastle or Manchester or South East London, so it was important to me that it be done with specificity and love rather than just caricature it. Jamie is a really heightened character, but he wanted all of his emotional journeys to come from a real place. Because otherwise you don’t care. My girlfriend’s family is half Mancunian, from Manchester, so it’s very important, both personally and vocationally, that everything went well. And it’s also partly based on my British agent,” he added with a laugh, “who is very daring”.

Dunster’s first television role was opposite Sharon Horgan, playing a guy in a bar in her beloved comedy “Catastrophe.” He has been fortunate enough to work with Kenneth Branagh several times, in the films “Murder on the Orient Express” and “All Is True” and in the London revival of John Osborne’s “The Entertainer” directed by Rob Ashford. Dunster sees those unique experiences as vital to what he does in “Lasso.” “As the leader of the company, (Kenneth) is not afraid to compromise with people who are experts,” Dunster said. “He stimulates the deep internalization of feeling and thought. And that’s something I think about any great director or creator I work with. And hopefully, directly or indirectly, I will use what I learned in the future.”

Read more of the comedy series edition here.

Cover of the comedy series, Selena Gomez
Photographed by Jeff Vespa for TheWrap

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