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How Ted Lasso’s Jamie Tartt went from malcontent to man of the match

The Digital Fix sat down with Ted Lasso star Phil Dunster, who plays Richmond's ace player Jamie Tartt to chat about how he went from the team bad guy to a hero

Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt in Ted Lasso

No one expected Jamie Tartt to become a fan favorite when Ted Lasso first began. Oh sure, Jamie had all the skills, but he was an arrogant bully who lived by the mantra that there might not be an ‘I’ in team, but there was a ‘me’. Across the last two seasons, though, Jamie’s changed.

He’s gone from a striker seeking glory at all costs to a team player who’s more than willing to share the limelight with his fellow Greyhounds. Indeed, in the last few Ted Lasso season 3 episodes, we have seen Jamie essentially serve as the team’s lynchpin, not because of his skills at putting a ball in a net but because of his empathy and people skills.

Now part of this is down to the wonderful work of the Ted Lasso writers, who’ve given Jamie an incredibly believable story arc across the comedy series‘ three seasons. Still, we can’t discount the natural charm of Phil Dunster, who’s played Richmond’s number-one goal scorer since season 1.

On paper, Dunster couldn’t be further from the brash and bold Jamie, and when you meet him, it’s quite disarming how different he seems from Richmond’s ace in the hole. Dunster’s soft-spoken, eloquent, and surprisingly reserved. So you might think he’d be worried about playing someone like Jamie, who starts off as (to use Roy’s words) such a prick.

“I wasn’t nervous about him being unlikeable,” Dunster told The Digital Fix when we sat down to talk about Ted Lasso season 3. “I think I was really looking forward to that. I’ve always been an Alan Rickman fan, and he plays baddies better than anybody else. I loved that.”

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The thing that most worried the actor was, in fact, the Manchester accent, and during our interview (which was conducted by a Mancunian), Dunster admitted to feeling more than a little nervous about getting the twang right. “The thing I was most nervous about, and I can say this to you, was the Manchester accent because it’s a proud bunch of people up there,” he explained. “I wanted to do it justice.”

“My agent is a proud Mancunian, and she sort of inspired the sass and the Mancunian pride,” he continued. “I really took on inspiration from Gallaghers, the rapper H, and [footballer] Jesse Lingard. I wanted to make sure that that felt genuine, not just because I wanted the character to feel believable, but also out of respect. I didn’t want it to feel like I was using this accent as a prop.”

Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt in Ted Lasso

It’s only as Dunster tells us about wanting to get the accent right that you start to see the similarities between him and Jamie. Sure, Dunster’s probably the better read of the two, and we bet Jamie’s the more athletic, but they share more than just a face. They’re both confident and charismatic, but most importantly, there’s a sensitivity to both men, and it’s that sensitivity that has ultimately allowed Jamie to change from an arrogant twat to a team player.

Part of that’s due, of course, to the influence of Ted Lasso, the nicest man in fiction. Ted’s been instrumental in helping Jamie move past the malign influence of his domineering dad and embrace a different style of play. In season 3, though, we’ve seen Ted and the rest of the backroom staff allowing the young striker the chance to step up and lead, as he did in episode 7, where it was Jamie who cracked Total Football.

Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt in Ted Lasso

Dunster credits Ted’s ability to delegate as one of his greatest skills, and his lack of ego is what allows him to trust people to lead when he can’t. “Ted’s a great leader because he delegates to the people around him,” Dunster explains. “It’s leadership qualities of listening and deferring to other people. My brother’s in the army, and he always talks about the leadership qualities that Ted Lasso has. He’s always said that’s one of the best things in the show for him.”

As much as Ted’s rubbed off on Jamie, I wanted to know if Dunster thought Jamie could teach Ted anything. After all, Ted could do with a little bit of Jamie’s healthy ego, which is something Dunster seemed a little blindsided by but quickly came to agree with when we brought it up to him.

Jamie and Sam in Ted Lasso

“I haven’t actually ever thought of that,” Dunter said. “But I think that yes. Now I don’t want to speak for Jason or anyone else with any skin in the game with Ted, but I feel like looking at it. Yes, there are moments of it. One of the things I really like about Jamie is that he’s assertive and he’s honest. I think that’s something that’s difficult to do in life.”

“Initially, Jamie didn’t really mind if it hurt people or not, and that’s something that he’s been working on, but we see an honesty come into Ted’s life in season three that maybe we hadn’t done before,” he continued. “I don’t want Jamie to take all the credit for that, but I think that’s true.”

Roy Kent and Jamie Tartt in Ted Lasso

“Really, it’s like in any relationship. You have to know when to be the teacher and when to be the pupil. Ted’s such a good leader, but he needs to be able to listen as well as know when to speak. I hadn’t actually thought of that [laughs]. They’re clever, aren’t they, the writers?”

As clever as the writers are, though, and as much as this series isn’t about football, we couldn’t sit down with Richmond’s ace player (or at least the man who plays him) and not ask who he thought would win the league or, more specifically, if it was still important for the Greyhounds to win “the whole f*cking thing.”

Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt in Ted Lasso

“I think that Ted Lasso’s mission has always been to make these gentlemen the best versions of themselves,” Dunster explained. “So it depends on what newsletter you subscribe to at Richmond. Is it Ted Lasso’s newsletter? Or is it the boys in the pub newsletter? Because I think that, for Richmond, there’s been a lot of healing that’s been done.”

“Particularly for Rebecca. Rebecca, as the owner of the club, is the center of AFC Richmond. She started this from a place of pain,” he continued. “There’s been a lot of building and healing since then. So if you’re looking at that perspective, no, it’s not important that Richmond win.”

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“But [Ted] did say at the end of season one, we’ll go back and win the whole effing thing,” Dunster finished. “So, you know, it’s important for the satisfaction, you know, he said he did it. Let’s see it through. So it’s yes and no.”

If you love Ted Lasso as much as we did, you should check out our full Ted Lasso season 3 review. We’ve also got a full breakdown of the Ted Lasso cast, and we can tell you how to make Ted Lasso’s biscuits if you want to reenact biscuits with the boss yourself.

Finally, we’ve got a story explaining the unlikely origins of Ted Lasso. If you’re all tuckered out after all this lassoing, then you should check out our list of the best TV series ever made.