'Ted Lasso': Higgins' Motivation For Season 2, Physical Comedy, And More [Interview]

Jeremy Swift, the Emmy-nominated actor who plays AFC Richmond's director of football operations on Ted Lasso, brings a lovable and goofy air to the character of Leslie Higgins. (Leslie, if you'll recall, is a "feminine junior," named after his mother.) But working for the sleazy former owner Rupert Manion before the events of season 1 took a toll on his character, and though he got a great and emotional apology sequence near the end of the first season, Swift still thinks there's more drama to mine from Higgins' spotty past.

I recently spoke with Swift in support of the mega-hit comedy's second season, and we touched on Higgins still being "haunted" by his prior behavior, the actor's approach to physical humor on the set, and more.

Warning: spoilers ahead for Season 2, Episode 2, "Lavender."

Initially in season 2, it seems as if Higgins is the only one of the Diamond Dogs who wants to bring Jamie Tartt back onto AFC Richmond. How much, if at all, did you think that decision might be tied to Higgins' own past as an enabler for Rupert Manion? I saw a subtle connection there, almost like: if Higgins can help Jamie earn redemption, maybe Higgins might feel like there's still hope for himself in the process. Was that part of your calculus as an actor when you approached this season?

I didn't think about it in those terms, but I just thought that he's more embracing his new role and is going to have to come up with some tough decisions. Because the team are in a rut, they've had a succession of draws, and they need to move on and move out of this rut. So he's going to make some decisions that maybe are unpopular with some, but will just motivate people. So that was my calculation behind the scenes.

Tell me about the physical comedy aspect of your performance. How much of the physical component is scripted, and how much freedom are you given to try things on the day?

It just depends. I usually check in with Jason, whether he's OK with it. In season one, there was a scene where I did a crazy dance eating cake, and that was just me starting to get down to some hip-hop, really. [laughs] Because the line in the script was, "Have some cake, Higgins." Yeah, so I went for it, and Zach Braff, who was directing that episode, just kept shooting, which involved me eating a ton of cake. I had buzzing teeth from the amount of sugar that was in that really poorly-made cake for about two days. But yeah, it depends on what I can get away with, really.

I'm thinking specifically of, in season two, there are moments when your character is forced into a series of increasingly smaller workspaces, and there's this bit with the pens where you're constantly knocking these pens over.

[Excitedly] Oh, is that still in?


Oh, great. Because I haven't seen [the new episodes] yet. Yeah, I think that was scripted for the first time, just because it got Rebecca's attention because you don't realize Higgins is in the room. And then a couple of other times, it was just like, "Should I knock the pens over again? Yeah, why not!" I'm glad it's in.

Higgins makes the decision to hire Sharon for the whole season, and that character immediately alters the ensemble's dynamic in an interesting way. The way it plays in the first three episodes, it seems as if Higgins didn't put a ton of thought into bringing her on full time, but do you think he secretly made that call thinking that Sharon's presence could ultimately help Ted?

I don't think so. I think that it's really for the team. I think that's Higgins' motivation for the second season: to move the team at least up, and not fall back. So if that's a byproduct that Ted is affected by that, then so be it. But he's really just thinking about the team and changing the dynamic.

Circling back around a little to my first question and talking about Higgins' past as this enabler for Rupert, I feel like the first season did a great job of grappling with that. You had some really excellent moments near the end of season one – your confrontations with Rebecca and admitting to the character's past wrongdoing and talking about moving forward. Do you think that Higgins has completely moved on from that part of his life, or does he still grapple with that, do you think?

It's interesting, because you don't really see any scenes in season one with Rupert at all. But yeah, I think Higgins is still haunted by it. Just me as an actor, I know that that's still in there, and he apologizes for it profusely in season one, but there's still not quite closure. I would love to see some of it come back to haunt him at some point.


Ted Lasso season 2 is being rolled out weekly on AppleTV+.