'Ted Lasso': Hannah Waddingham on Why Rebecca's Funeral Rick-Roll Was a Pivotal Moment for Her (Exclusive)
By Meredith B. Kile
The cast of Ted Lasso might be coming off a celebratory night at the 2021 Emmy Awards -- where the fan-favorite show won Outstanding Comedy Series and acting awards for stars Jason Sudeikis, Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham, among others -- but on Friday's new episode, things got very somber.
The episode, titled "No Weddings and Funeral" centers around just that. The funeral is that of Rebecca's father, and while there are no weddings, there's certainly plenty of tension, romantic and otherwise, amid the AFC Richmond family as they turn out to support their boss.
For her part, Rebecca (Waddingham) is struggling to mourn a man she's hated for years, due to his infidelity and treatment of her mother, while Ted (Sudeikis) almost doesn't make it to the funeral, consumed by anxiety as he flashes back to his own father's death by suicide and the complicated feelings he still carries.
After spending time speaking with the team's sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles), Ted finally arrives at the funeral just in time for Rebecca's eulogy, which Waddingham told ET in a recent interview was a pivotal point for her in the show's second season.
"There was one particular moment, where I was quite adamant that I needed it to flow how I needed it to flow. and could we slightly alter it?" she recalled. "I told [Jason] why, and he went, 'OK.'"
"I was like, 'What?'" she continued. "He went, 'OK, we'll do it like that. You tell me how you envisage it, and we'll do it like that.' And that has never happened to me before, and it felt right. And I watched it the other day with him and we both kind of nodded at each other afterwards."
Rebecca is at a loss for words when she begins the eulogy, but ultimately finds her way by reciting -- and then singing -- the lyrics to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up," a song her mother often plays to put herself in a good mood. It's an emotional rendition from the West End star-turned-Emmy winner, made even more impactful when her friends and fellow mourners join in.
"I can't tell you how much even thinking about it now makes my throat tighten," Waddingham recalled of the scene. "I just said to them, 'I can't-- She can't do it,' and Jason said, 'OK, how would you like it to go?' And I said, 'It has to be Ted. It has to be Ted, even if he hasn't been there for the rest of the day, even if they haven't seen each other much on screen together at that point. It has to be Ted that picks her up and runs with it.'"
"And he went, 'OK,'" she continued, "And I went, 'And then can it be Keeley and Roy? And then can it be Sam? And then they all strike up and she just comes in at the end or maybe not even at all, but she has to feel her new family save her from her old."
Waddingham couldn't have been more appreciative of her Ted Lasso family during her win at the Emmys on Sunday for Oustanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She was ecstatic upon taking the stage, thanking Sudeikis and the rest of the show's creative team for giving her a chance to shine.
“Jason, you changed my life with this,” Wadding said while accepting the award. “I’m so privileged to work with you.”
As for her co-stars: “Juno Temple, I swear to god, if I could break off one of her arms and give it to you," she said of her new statuette, offering up part of her award to Temple, who was also nominated in the category.
Waddingham concluded her speech by encouraging screen productions to cast West End performers "who deserve" to be seen and spent much of the past year out of work during the pandemic.
See more from the cast's big night at the Emmys in the video below. Ted Lasso is streaming now on Apple TV+.