Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) has properly shed her villainous streak in Ted Lasso season two. She spent almost the entirety of season one trying to bring down the football team she newly owns, AFC Richmond, as a way of getting back at her ex-husband. Eventually, she began to open up in her burgeoning friendships with Coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), and Leslie Higgins (Jeremy Swift).
In season two, Rebecca’s softer and vulnerable side shines through now that she has embraced her love for the sport and the team, as well as connected with her loved ones, including her goddaughter Nora (Kiki May). The third episode, “Do The Right-est Thing,” shines a light on their lovely relationship. It’s an enchanting turn of events, and Waddingham is thrilled to show off a surprising new side to Rebecca this time around. The A.V. Club spoke to the Emmy-nominated actor about exploring these dynamics with her co-stars, Ted Lasso’s passionate fans, and Rebecca’s beloved biscuits.
You can watch the entire interview below or read on for parts of the transcript:
The A.V. Club: What was it like to step into Rebecca’s shoes this season, knowing she doesn’t shoulder the burden of lying to Ted or using him to bring the team down? She feels freer and more light-hearted.
Hannah Waddingham: It was wonderful in one way because, for me, the same as anybody else, what we’ve all been through with lockdowns in our respective countries, I was so ready for that focus. I needed to get back into Rebecca’s spirit and feel her rippling through my blood stream again. I was champing at the bit to get back behind my desk. When scenes weren’t behind Rebecca’s desk, I wanted them to be so I can find her again. In season two, I found it quite odd not to have constant attrition, the constant layers of lies, the constant nervous energy she had. Once I got into all the stuff with Nora in particular, that beautiful scene where Nora says “I want to be like you. I saw you in the suit in the front cover of that magazine,” it just absolutely killed me. I thought this is a whole new Rebecca, and I get to show her vulnerability in a different way.
AVC: For the audience and even for the character, why was it important to finally dig into this new part of Rebecca?
HW: Because even when it hadn’t been touched upon until later in season one, I had already decided for myself that Rebecca has probably mostly—and in her head totally—missed the boat at the chance of being a mother naturally. I think she desperately wants to make amends but because she is a brusque, black-and-white person—she has pretty much put a Post-it note on her computer that says “Must make amends with Nora.” She hasn’t really thought it through. I love when Sassy (Ellie Taylor) rolls in and goes “I’m going to leave with Nora with you for the whole weekend,” I love the fact you see Rebecca go “Oh my god!” She wants to be the best version of herself for this young child she knows she’s deserted. I love the fact that you see Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) saying “Chill your beans, just be you, she’ll love being with you.”
AVC: Rebecca is also an inspiring character because when we think of football, we don’t necessarily think of women leaders in this field. Is that something you’ve thought about or done research for? Are you a football fan in real life?
HW: Do you know what? In season one, I absolutely didn’t, because it’s nothing to do with football for her. It could be a hockey team, it could be god knows what, it doesn’t even have to be a sports thing. She was just going to get whatever was precious to Rupert, stupidly thinking that would be the way to break his heart as much as he had broken hers. I have started watching more football now because Rebecca has a love of those boys. She’s like a lioness standing above them. I love that you see that in her, especially in episode three with the Dubai Air issue when she calls Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) to explain why this needs to happen. It’s almost like a judge listening to someone’s case. When she sees he is hugely eloquent about it, there’s no question she won’t stand by him.
AVC: What was it like to see the huge, beloved reaction to Ted Lasso season one and your performance and all the awards contention for it?
HW: The passionate fandom is something I think props us all up everyday, especially going into season two. I’ve been acutely aware of holding this baby that has been created, both on the level of the whole show and Rebecca. People have a vested interest in all of them. I am hugely respectful and mindful of that all the time. In terms of the nominations and prestige it has garnered, and in terms of Jason and the writers, I didn’t doubt it for a second. When I watched the whole season play out, I was like “They’re going to win everything because they deserve to.” In terms of my own contribution to that, it’s been completely glorious but if I ever let it in too much, I feel like I become a lesser actress and less capable to play Rebecca. I love focusing in on her, and I don’t want to start looking at the office from the audience point-of-view, I want to keep looking out from behind the desk.