Sarah Niles explains why the role of Ted Lasso was “one of the most difficult” she’s ever played – The Hollywood Reporter
For British actress Sarah Niles, therapist Sharon Fieldstone on Ted Lasso was one of the most difficult roles of his career. The job was in the middle of the pandemic, and the role came to her as she hoped to do more comedy after her serious work on I can destroy you as well as a role in a version of the play by Anton Chekhov Three sisters fixed in Nigeria. She admits that she had not looked Ted Lasso before auditioning for it, to prepare for the fact that the second season isn’t as hopeful as the first.
Instead, it shines a light on Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) mental health issues, and Niles plays the therapist who ultimately manages to pierce Ted’s optimistic, wise-cracking surface and reveal what’s underneath. Niles says she loved her time on the show and that she and Sudeikis worked well together preparing for the therapy scenes they shared.
“Jason kindly coached me saying, ‘Just trust what you’re doing,'” Niles said. THR. “Sharon is probably one of the most challenging roles I’ve played. That stillness, that calmness, and also that confident, strong character…it’s such a balance between letting her show that truth and that care, and to be against someone who is über positive and light-hearted without coming across as harsh.
Ted Lasso also places its female characters and their friendships front and center in the series, including Hannah Waddingham’s Rebecca Welton and Juno Temple’s Keeley Jones. (Niles and her co-stars Temple and Waddingham each earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.) Still, these women are very misunderstood at first, and Niles feels the same way about Dr. Fieldstone. , which may come across as tense and unemotional at first: “[Rebecca] comes across as this strong, tall woman, and you feel like she’s been looked down upon. She’s vulnerable and she’s trying to find her agency and find her own space. As women, we don’t often get the chance to say we’re good at something without feeling like there might be some pushback. It was really important to find a place with such character, and [Sharon] is perfect. She’s black, she’s British, and she’s single. She has no loved ones that soften her around the edges.
Portraying a therapist onscreen came with pressures to “do it right,” Niles says, adding that she also felt a personal connection to the role. She herself is in therapy and family and friends have died during the pandemic, a time when conversations about mental health have intensified. “I’ve always been very attached to mental health,” she says. “When you talk about sportsmanship they think it’s about physical strength, but it’s also important to have that mental strength in order to do the best job. But I also had to trust my abilities, put put aside my insecurities and be content with the work at hand Love, care and vulnerability are so important.
Of Dr. Fieldstone, Niles says, “I love this character, and she taught me to trust myself, warts and everything. I feel like there’s so much more I can do and I’m really excited.
This story first appeared in an August issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.