‘Ted Lasso’s’ Brett Goldstein and Director MJ Delaney Break Down Roy’s Last Match

·3-min read

One of the most pivotal character moments in the “Ted Lasso” first season finale came down as a late-in-the-day change to the scene, Emmy-nominated director MJ Delaney recalls.

In “The Hope That Kills You,” Roy Kent (supporting comedy actor nominee Brett Goldstein) took the field for one final time. It was a pivotal match for his longtime Premier League team AFC Richmond, and although he seemed to be running in full force, a tackle brought him down hard. He struggled to get back up before getting caught in a groundswell of emotion as his teammates surrounded him and the fans chanted for him. Then he headed off to the empty locker room where he was alone with his grief over the end of his career as a footballer.

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But he couldn’t be alone for long, as his girlfriend Keeley (Juno Temple) joined him to offer support. Roy, a notoriously “hard” character who often prefers to grunt rather than use his words, struggled even more to accept her standing there.

The tone of that scene, Delaney says, came with some concern because the show is usually so full of optimism and sincerity. In this scene, however, “there’s a hell of a lot of the deep, dark and meaningful, and you worry sometimes, ‘Should I be putting levity in this?’” she says.

Executive producer and writer Jason Sudeikis delivered a scene revision that specifically noted that Roy wouldn’t be able to meet Keeley’s eyes, but he couldn’t be there to watch it play out, so it fell to Delaney and Goldstein to find the right balance of showcasing the totality of Roy’s emotions.

“It’s ‘Good Will Hunting’ when Robin Williams says, ‘It’s not your fault’; it’s the folktale about the man having to take the thorn out of the lion’s paw; it’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ — Roy is a beast and Keeley is the beauty,” Goldstein says of the scene.

“Ted Lasso” is a show that often has to make adjustments on the fly, but here they were aided by Goldstein having intimate knowledge of his character, not only from embodying him for the prior nine episodes, but also because he serves as a writer on the show. It allowed him to know Roy’s season-long arc early in the process.

“I was aware from day one of this shoot at some point we’re going to do this scene, and you want it to be powerful,” he says.

While that meant he had a certain vision for how the sequence was to play out, he adds that he had to let that go so he wouldn’t be thinking of how things would cut together while he was in the scene as a performer. In Delaney’s hands, he felt safe, though, in great part because she set everything up so he didn’t have to imagine things were happening, they just were. Case in point: When Roy walked into the empty locker room, so did Goldstein.

“The cameras were behind the door and behind the lockers, so I actually had the space so when I walk in the room, it is empty to me,” he recalls. “It was almost hidden cameras; the crew was behind the corridor.”

Delaney showed off that wide space for moment, implying how Roy felt now that he had lost such a big part of his identity.

“It was more about an ending of Roy and his dream,” she says. “I prioritized it as a moment for Roy, but then the Keeley stuff comes through too and you saw why he and Keeley were such a good idea.”

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