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Phil Dunster gives us a peek behind Jamie Tartt’s swagger in ‘Ted Lasso’

Phil Dunster is convinced that he’s not funny. Fans of “Ted Lasso,” on which the British actor plays larger-than-life footballer Jamie Tartt, would argue otherwise, but the role isn’t something Dunster previously ever imagined himself taking on.

The actor came from a drama background — he had recurring roles on “Strike Back” and “Humans” and small parts in “Judy” and “The Good Liar” — but his comedy background was limited to two episodes of “Catastrophe.” When he was cast for “Ted Lasso,” only a few weeks before the start of the show’s production, Dunster didn’t know much about Jamie’s eventual arc, which has been equal parts hilarious and movingly sad.

“No one really knows where they’re going in life, so I think that every day [creator Jason Sudeikis] likes to keep you guessing,” Dunster says, speaking from the roof bar at a cinema in central London. “I knew there was an arc that was to come where he hopefully becomes a better person, stepping away from the hairstyles and general behavior. So general vibes, yes, not the specificity. It was all a lovely sort of surprise.”

In Season 1, Jamie was introduced as a loud-mouthed egoist with an affinity for flamboyant clothing, often acting as an antagonist for Brett Goldstein’s often angry, introverted Roy Kent. Dunster, who is nothing like Jamie in real life, discovered the character’s Mancunian accent, which was not originally scripted, as he began to make Jamie his own. The regional dialect, akin to a strong Boston accent in the U.S., stuck.

“You have people like Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher, and Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, and it’s not just that they have the accent,” Dunster says. “They’ve got this energy, the persona comes with it. There’s an attitude. And also my agent is from Manchester and she’s just got this, like, sass. I think there was something in Jamie that’s a hardworking person. And he’s got a swagger in the same way that someone like Liam Gallagher does.”


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