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The actor also discusses Jamie and Roy's 'dirty, great love story'
[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Season 3, Episode 8 of Ted Lasso, "We'll Never Have Paris." Read at your own risk!]
The Greyhounds are back on a winning streak at the beginning of the eighth episode of Ted Lasso's third season, but personal turmoil is at an all-time high. This applies to Keeley (Juno Temple) especially, who becomes the victim of hacking when an intimate video she made years ago is leaked on the internet. It's an invasive moment that results in conflict in her new relationship with Jack (Jodi Balfour), and the re-opening of old wounds when Roy (Brett Goldstein) can't resist asking her who the video was made for, before quickly recognizing his mistake.
As it happens, the video was for Jamie (Phil Dunster) back when the two were still together, which we learn when he shows up at her door to take responsibility for the leak, since the video was taken from his email. (His password was "password," you see.) It's yet another sincerely human moment from a character who has represented the show's study of people's capacity for change. While certain characters, like Ted (Jason Sudeikis), keep falling into the same traps, Jamie continues to work at his own personal growth.
Dunster spoke to TV Guide about Jamie's maturation, and where his relationships with both Keeley and Roy stand at this point in the season.
Jamie's apology to Keeley at the end of this week's episode feels like part of the evolution that he's been working at all season. What do you think it took for him to make it to that point of self-awareness? Is that what you'd call it?
Phil Dunster: I know exactly what you mean. He's learned the lesson sort of subconsciously, and then it's almost as if he would look back on the action he's just taken, where normally it's this fork in the road. The action is, "Do I act from a place of shame or from fear or from self-aggrandizement?" And he chooses the other route of, "I'm going to do this from a sense of love, or selflessness," whatever the thing is. I don't think it's an active decision that he's making because I don't think he's really wired like that. He's a far more impulsive person, but I suppose the thing is that you're right, it's kind of this superpower in that his character trait is directness, is being direct. Before, the intention behind that was always kind of selfish. It was used in an arrogant sense, but now that he's a bit more, yeah, self-aware, matured a bit, more cognizant of the better thing to do because he learned from Keeley, he's learned from from Ted Lasso — I think that it now means that that directness can be utilized in a really positive way. For a lot of people, certainly me, I'm not good at saying what I want, what I feel. Now that he's coming from a kinder place, it's kind of amazing that he can be open and honest. He asks Roy for what he wants. He asks it from Keeley. That's the evolution.
Jamie's also one of the first people in this week's episode to speak up and say, "No, the people who steal other people's personal information are in the wrong." He's drawing a really hard line between right and wrong, whereas some of his teammates see it as a gray area. Is that something you feel like Jamie's always felt, or is it part of his reinvention?
Dunster: I think it probably has been a gray line for him before, what was the most expedient thing for him, rather than necessarily thinking what was best for other people. In Season 3, he seems to have, particularly in a footballing sense, the mentality of being one of 11. We still see the Jamie-isms. He's still kind of rude, a little bit. He's still a bit ostentatious, still fancies himself quite a lot. But the vanity is less of a priority for him now. The whole prima donna thing, the whole ironic-hypocritical thing that he has with Beard — I think that he opens up space for himself. When he gets out of the way of himself, he is just actually a smart person, and someone who has morals that maybe he didn't feel confident enough in himself to be able to state before. It's no hard and fast rule, but I think that might be the thing that we like about the show, is that nothing really happens easily. Each of the characters at some point learn the hard way, some learn the lesson the hard way. It's a fun nonlinear progression for the characters.
At this point in the series, do you think Jamie's over Keeley?
Dunster: I think that he does love her, I think there's a deep emotional connection. She has seen him, whether we see it in the show on screen or not, she has seen him in a very vulnerable place. When everyone else wanted to see the back of him, she was the one who was still there. When you've had a close, intimate relationship with somebody, there will always be that access to one another. We don't see necessarily on screen, up until now, a huge level of intimacy that Jamie shares with other people, other than he had done with Keeley. I imagine that that door will always still be open for him. I don't know if he knows. Season 1, he probably fancied her because she was fit, and he liked the cut of her jib. And I think that in Season 3, he would love her for a very different reason, for the reasons that she has been a wonderful teacher to him.
That also makes me think about his relationship with Roy this season. What has the growth of that dynamic meant to you? Did you and Brett have any conversations about where they were going this season?
Dunster: A lot has been established so far in the writing that it meant that we knew inherently where the characters have been going. We knew what the characters thought of each other, so that helps inform what that would look like. That intimacy I've spoken about that Jamie has with Keeley, we as the actors knew that Roy has had that with Keeley as well. They're kind of the last two that should have that relationship, really. One of the things they've shared that's had the most impact on them in the time that we've known them is that shared intimacy with Keeley. You do just have a shortcut of communication with one another when you have both shared that thing. It doesn't make you friends, necessarily. It doesn't make you particularly even good communicators with one another, but you do have a tap that is already turned on a bit, which seems odd considering the fact that they seem to be at different ends of many different spectrums from one another.
I saw that Brett called them the show's "other great love story."
Dunster: It kind of reads a bit like a rom-com, really. In a lot of the other relationships in the show, we see Ted and Rebecca, they have this wonderful relationship that is based very much on love, but it's not an intimate one. You see the same with Rebecca and [Keeley], and Colin and Isaac — it's deep love that they share with one another, but it's not a sexual one, [a] physical one. It's a dirty, great love story, but I guess we just have to wait and see whether [Roy and Jamie] rip each other's clothes off.
There was also a moment in Episode 7 where Jamie steps up in a major way during the match, and it made me wonder if there's a world where he would make a good coach.
Dunster: Well, in football, you go on to be a coach or you go on to be a pundit, really. I think that would definitely make sense that he has such brilliant football acumen. I think he probably still would want to have a bit of the limelight, and so being a manager is probably a good spot for that. I think there's a world in which that could happen. But I also think that Jamie is learning a lot about himself, maybe outside of football. His life has been about football, and so he's spent so much time in and around the sport that I wonder, as he grows as a human, what else he might be drawn towards. I kind of like the idea of him being an ambassador for a football charity, or maybe starting his own clothing brand because he likes his clothes, in his idiosyncratic styling that he has. Yeah, I wonder if it would be fun to think of it in that realm. And learning how to be a good boss, he has such great teachers around him. There's a notion of, in any relationship, that one person is at one point the teacher and one person was at one point the taught, and having the humility to know which time you are one of those two people. I think Jamie has started to learn when to be the person who is taught. It's through that new humility that he might find something outside of football.
I like that type of theorizing about Jamie's future. I'm also curious if you've given any thought into his backstory, even if it hasn't made it into the show.
Dunster: Yeah, I think he's probably been at clubs [since] he was much younger, probably playing with much older boys. He was probably a bit bullied because he was so good. Or even when a junior at a team, a rookie on a team, as y'all would say over here, I think that he probably has some sort of complex around inferiority — an inferiority complex, you might say. When he's told to go and pick up the cones in Season 1, he's like, "I haven't been told to do that for years," and is hurt by that. It's just being around, probably, a lot of dudes who don't really care much for his mental state. I guess there's those moments, probably mostly in locker rooms, I suppose, or on the pitch, he just didn't get past.
Ted Lasso Season 3 airs Wednesdays on Apple TV+.