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Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple on the Friendship at the Heart of ‘Ted Lasso’

Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple, the two female stars of ‘Ted Lasso,’ are best friends both on and off-screen.
The Women of Ted Lasso: Keeley And Rebecca
By  · Published on September 22nd, 2021

Entering the Discourse is a thrice-weekly column where we dig into who is saying what about new releases and upcoming projects. Today, we hear from the incredible women of Ted Lasso, as stars Hannah Waddingham and Juno Temple talk about their friendship, as well as about Waddingham’s other job as a single mom.

Over the weekend, Ted Lasso won big at the Emmy’s, an uplifting and heartwarming comedy about a glass-half-full type of guy coaching a broken soccer team to greatness. Among their big wins was Hannah Waddingham, who plays the complex yet kind-hearted Rebecca Welton, nabbing best-supporting actress in a comedy. 

While Waddingham is not new to the world of acting, this show has been her big break, which she reiterated in her acceptance speech. As she took to the stage to accept her award, she immediately thanked Jason Sudekis, saying, “you’ve changed my life with this [show], and more importantly, you’ve changed my baby girl’s.”

Waddingham is a single mom to a young daughter named Kitty, who has Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP). The autoimmune disorder causes swelling of small blood vessels and typically affects children between ages two and six. While not life-threatening, the diagnosis was a wake-up call for the actor who frequently traveled for stage work and acting jobs. She decided only to take acting jobs that wouldn’t require her to be far from home. Just a few months later, she landed the part in Ted Lasso.

In her post-win interview, Waddingham said,

“You know, I’m a single mama, and I hate being away from her. And I always say to her, I’ve taught her as a mantra ever since she was a little girl: ‘What does mummy always do?’ and she always says: ‘Mummy always comes back.’”

Her acceptance speech didn’t just address her role as a single mother. She also thanked her female co-star and fellow nominee Juno Temple, saying, “I swear to god if I could break off one of her arms and give it to you because that’s what you are to me.”

Waddingham is the team owner, Temple is a model, and both seem to have very different attitudes about life. In a show dominated by male actors, she and Temple shine as they play the only two consistent female characters who thrive off of supporting each other rather than competing. TV tropes would have the viewer expecting the two women of the show to constantly be at odds, which the show does tee up in the first few episodes. Yet, instead of having the two feud, they are brought together and form a strong friendship that is foundational to the show’s overall positive message about finding your family.

Sudekis, co-creator and star of the show, told Variety, “We definitely wanted to play on the preconception that they’re not going to get along. These tropes have been around a long time, so why not use them to our benefit?”

As Waddingham’s speech would suggest, she and Temple aren’t just friends in front of the camera. In an interview with Variety, Waddingham explained that they immediately had a connection. “It was the most strange thing,” she said. “It was just completely natural and effortless … and it’s been like that ever since, both on-screen and off.” That only strengthened their on-screen bond, and Waddingham was thankful they were written as friends. “[My job] would have been far harder if we’d been pitted against each other. I would’ve actually found that quite distressing,” she told Variety.

Even though Temple didn’t win the award, she was still cheering her co-star on. She told Vanity Fair

“I could not be more grateful that I get to go through this with Hannah. She is like a real-life guardian angel that came into my universe. It’s such an incredible thing to get a nomination like that because that’s people appreciating you for what you love doing the most. But, it is scary because you’re then going to keep challenging yourself to, ‘Oh, okay, I’ve got to just keep getting better. I gotta just keep bringing it.’”

There’s so much to love about Ted Lasso, and this dynamic duo is no exception. The love between these two women emanates from the screen and is a breath of fresh air for female characters both as individuals and as friends. No matter who won the Emmy, both Waddingham and Temple still have a place in our, and each other’s, hearts.

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Mary Beth McAndrews thinks found footage is good and will fight you if you say otherwise. When she's not writing, she's searching for Mothman with her two cats. Follow her on Twitter @mbmcandrews. (She/Her)