[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Ted Lasso,” Season 3, Episode 3, “4-5-1”.]
Playing Rebecca for multiple seasons on “Ted Lasso” has given Hannah Waddingham the chance to take her character in a number of different directions. And when you live with a character for this long, there are parts of the performance that take on an even bigger meaning.
Take, for example, the way Rebecca enters a room. In “4-5-1,” Episode 3 of the hit Apple TV+ show’s Season 3, she visits a psychic that her mother recommended. Instantly, the atmosphere in the room is different from the places that Rebecca is used to.
“Even when I walked through the door, it was a bit like I’d gone into a trap,” Waddingham told IndieWire in a recent interview. “I was very keen to play her discomfort being there, because AFC Richmond is her home. There is an ease and a grandeur about her. But in there, it was full On Guard. I love playing that side of Rebecca that’s backed into a corner and will spit at you in a minute if you’re not careful. So when I got that, I was just like, ‘Ahhhhh, come on! Thank you!'”
As fun as it can be to play that more aggressive side of the character, that scene in the psychic’s office soon takes a much different turn. Having been told a number of signs that she should soon expect, a casual “revelation” comes right at the end of their meeting: the psychic tells her she’s going to have a child.
“The way I reacted, I didn’t expect it. I was physically shaking from it. And I’m hoping that you kind of feel that at the end of the scene, when I’m giving out to her. It rattled my core because I’ve had not a dissimilar thing myself with a fertility doctor. ‘This is not going to be for you’ is what I was told many years ago. And I left that room and went, ‘Really?? Fuuuuuuuuuuuck you!'” Waddingham said. “What the psychic says at the end of that — ‘You’re going to be a mother’ — when I read that I was like, ‘Oh my God, it is so irresponsible to just blurt that.’ To say it like an afterthought, it’s horrific. As someone who has friends who’ve struggled with fertility, it’s such a delicate matter.”
It’s the latest in a long line of Rebecca moments on “Ted Lasso” that have oddly mirrored Waddingham’s own life in ways she never expected.
“I feel like they have they have dealt me cards in this show and they happen to be the things that I’ve dealt with in real life. It makes me think, was I given real life to impart what I have or has the show been given to me as a catharsis?” Waddingham said. “The verbally abusive relationship with Rupert, I had lived that. I’d had a similar relationship with a Sassy in my life where I lost contact with my own goddaughter. To the point where I was like, ‘Jason, have you got cameras in my house?'”
Having those personal markers from her own life has made it easier to access the deeper emotional moments that go beyond the show’s usual workplace comedy office banter. Waddingham explained that, when faced with those more challenging sequences like last week’s bathroom confrontation with Zava, it helps to be able to tap into those extra reserves relatively quickly.
“Thankfully, with Rebecca, I can literally take myself off into a corner, and very quickly feel her. And in those moments when I have to be her in a confrontational, stronger moment, I can just bring the sides in and focus her. Even though I access that quite easily, I find her raggedy vulnerability more satisfying to play. I like showing that she is not quite as together as anyone might think, or as she might think,” Waddingham said.
Episodes like this one — with a night out with Keeley and the aforementioned Sassy, a few match sequences, and a screwball-adjacent Zava press conference — bring some balance to the heavier moments. Getting to fully experience both sides is part of the Season 3 recalibration/reemergence of the show itself.
“I love fleshing Rebecca out as much as I can. I always see a character as a shopping bag that I’m trying to get into and keep all the sides puffed out. I’m always just wanting to give the character as much breathing space as possible,” Waddingham said. “I feel like her journey in Season 2 was a necessary journey for her, but for me, an almost quietening down of the turmoil and the raggedy edges that she’d had in Season 1. As Jason would say, everyone kind of went into themselves a bit in Season 2. But you need to have that ebb and flow. All of us do. So I enjoyed it, and it actually informed what then comes in Season 3 for me.”
“Ted Lasso” Season 3 continues with new episodes every Wednesday on Apple TV+.