'Ted Lasso': Phil Dunster On Jamie Tartt's Evolution, Season 2's Themes, And More [Interview]

As season 2 of Ted Lasso begins, Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) finds himself in an even more emotionally and professionally empty place than he was in season 1. Humbled and hungry for redemption, he comes back to AFC Richmond ready to prove himself as a better teammate – and maybe, just maybe, a better person.

I spoke with Dunster a little while before he earned an Emmy nomination for his work in season 1, and we chatted about Jamie's evolution as a character, one of the key themes of the second season, and more.

In some ways, this show is about finding and embracing the best version of yourself. What do you think about Jamie's evolution into a more humble human as this season progresses?

Yeah, I think that's probably a pretty good summary, man. I think we see with Jamie that figuring out what the best version of himself is, is a much harder journey for him than I think quite a few other members of the team. Because I don't think he's ever really had to think about that before. People just love what he does on the football field, and that's all that he cares about. So I think there's an evolution in him, particularly from season 1 where we see him learning how to be better, but not necessarily doing it. He's still trying to rile up Roy Kent at the end of season 1, and he's still that punchable guy. But I think you're right: it's about that journey of trying to be the best version of one's self. It's really rich territory for me as an actor to have somebody who has such a long way to go, but he's trying and getting it wrong. Because I know that I try and I get it wrong a lot of the time. So yeah, this guy who is an extraordinary football talent is just a normal human being just like any of us. 

Did you have any idea of what your character's full arc would be when you first signed on? Did they pitch you the complete arc of what Jamie would become?

No, not fully – not at the start. I spoke to Jason [Sudeikis] once I had the part and once we were doing read throughs, but it was shrouded in mystery before I got my feet wet with the show. But that's the thing as well: Jason could really illuminate the whole story that was to come. Because this show is in Jason's bones. He knows it like the back of his hand...or like the inside of his hand, if it's his bones. But let's not get caught up in that. He knew, for everybody, where they've been and where they're going. I think one of the great things that Jason does, that Ted Lasso does: the way that Jason leads is by delegating. He's really good at going, "Here's what I think, but what do you think? Great. Awesome. Let's work that in, that sounds great." It's a real collaborative process with him.

So without knowing exactly how Jamie would progress, did you ever find yourself thinking back to moments in season one and thinking, "Man, I wish I hadn't been quite as much of a dick there, because now I have to work that much harder to get back into the audience's good graces"?

[laughs] It's light and shade, man. It means that there's a taller mountain to climb, which gives me more screen time. [laughs] No. Purely that it feels like a necessary part of the progress and the process for Jamie. I think the tail has to be that bit further between his legs, and the humble pie has to be that much bigger for Jamie to eat. No, I'm pretty pleased that Jamie went to the extent that he did.

Jamie has this tough relationship with his toxic father, which informs a lot of what he does off the pitch. Does that relationship get explored further as season two continues?

Jamie, as with all the other characters – one of the themes of season 2 is family dynamics, and what that means in terms of what we define family as; the things that we need from family, which is different from friends; this team that they are part of being a family. Jamie is no different from the rest of the team in that sense. There are a lot of demons that Jamie has in his past that he has to deal with in season 2, and so yeah, we'll see.


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