By the end of its first season, Ted Lasso established a copacetic dynamic between Jason Sudeikis’ Coach Ted Lasso, his AFC Richmond football team, and the owner of the club, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham). The Apple TV+ comedy won hearts with a central focus on kindness and warmth. In season two, that winning optimism returns but not without a few shakeups. Sarah Niles join the cast as Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, the team’s sports psychologist, and she is seemingly immune to Ted’s appeal (and biscuits).
Her arrival brings out Ted’s insecurities. His team now relies on another person for motivation, and he is forced to face his own prejudice against therapy based on his past experience. Since this is Ted Lasso, these issues are tackled under the lens of empathy and humor. But how will the audience respond to Niles’ character? We asked her about joining and quickly shaking up the world of a show as beloved as Ted Lasso, what it was like to work with Sudeikis, and the need to openly talk about therapy in a male-dominated sport.
You can check out the video below or read on for a part of the transcript.
The A.V. Club: How did you prepare to join the team and how do you think your character fits into the world of Ted Lasso?
Sarah Niles: I feel like I got a lot of support, particularly from Jason. When I turned up on day one, he was giving me lots of ideas about and where the journey might take for her and pointers in the right direction. He suggested some books I could read. Not about sports psychology as such but about psychology. It was a great support system and always checking in.
AVC: Therapy is so important in this field but it’s not spoken about as much. How did you approach these sensitive topics while filming and what kind of message did you want to send?
SN: It’s funny. When you’re dealing with football, it’s a largely male world and then to have this woman come in and the fact that she felt she was really good at her job and she was not afraid to say that, that was part of it in going, “Okay, we can move forward with this.” I don’t know why we still have reservations about it but when you’re dealing with physical athletes, we’re not looking at how you train the mind to be the best athlete you can be. That’s what I find most fascinating. Ted always touches on that with his quotes, like season one’s “Be curious, not judgmental,” or his Believe poster.
AVC: Sharon and Ted have such an interesting dynamic. They’re both positive people, but Sharon has a calmer energy and Ted is full of enthusiastic optimism. How do you find that balance and what was it like to work with Jason to find it?
SN: It was hard watching him because he is so funny.
AVC: But you have a straight face throughout, which is very impressive.
SN: Yeah, you wouldn’t see that when they had to cut in some of the scenes when I was corpsing and just couldn’t continue. In the end, it became easy to watch and observe him as this character and unnerve him a little bit. He’s a wonderful actor, he’s responsive to what you’re giving.