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Take it from real-life Roy Kent: Soccer is catharsis for people who won't do therapy

Brett Goldstein is a writer for the show, Ted Lasso, and he's also won two Emmy awards for playing Roy Kent, a gruff yet lovable retired footballer-turned-assistant coach. Goldstein says his character is reminiscent of the footballers he knew growing up in the U.K.


Other segments from the episode on March 27, 2023

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, March 27, 2023: Interview with Brett Goldstein; review of film 'Tori & Lokita.'



This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The series "Ted Lasso" just started its third and final season on Apple TV+. The show's about an American football coach who moves to England to manage a struggling English Premier League football team, even though he has no experience coaching soccer. The series became a huge hit with critics and audiences when it premiered during the pandemic and went on to win two Emmys for best comedy series for its first two seasons. Our guest, Brett Goldstein, is a writer for the series and won two consecutive Emmys for best supporting actor in a comedy series for his role on "Ted Lasso." He spoke with FRESH AIR's Ann Marie Baldonado.

ANN MARIE BALDONADO, BYLINE: The show may be called "Ted Lasso," but for a lot of viewers, it's all about Roy Kent. When we meet him at the beginning of the series, he's a gruff, foul-mouthed British footballer past the heights of his career. As the show goes on, he remains gruff and foul-mouthed, but he tearfully retires, coaches his niece's girls football team, becomes a sports pundit on TV and then settles into the role of assistant coach for his old team, AFC Richmond. Here he is with the team of 9-year-old girls after a loss.


BRETT GOLDSTEIN: (As Roy Kent) You played a hell of a game. But you lost. I want you to remember this feeling. Burn this moment into your brains. Good.

ELODIE BLOMFIELD: (As Phoebe) Is it time for trophies, Uncle Roy?

GOLDSTEIN: (As Roy Kent) Yeah, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Emily's mom bought everyone consolation trophies.

GOLDSTEIN: (As Roy Kent) Must be nice to just burn cash. Best-dressed. It's stupid. You're all wearing the same thing. You. Right. Do you know what? Just get amongst it. Enjoy your trophies for winning nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Coach Kent.

GOLDSTEIN: (As Roy Kent) Look. When I was young, you got shouted at for losing.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Same. But then tough love never bothered me, you know, as long as I knew the coach gave a [expletive].

GOLDSTEIN: (As Roy Kent) Oi, it has been an honor coaching all of you. I do hope you'll come back and play next year but only if you [expletive] mean it.


BALDONADO: Our guest, Brett Goldstein, plays Roy Kent. He won the Emmy twice for best supporting actor in a comedy series. He's also a writer for the show. Plus, he co-created the TV series "Shrinking," which stars Jason Segel, Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams. That show just aired its season one finale and was renewed for a second season. Goldstein also entered the Marvel Universe playing Hercules, who looks to be a new Marvel villain. He also hosts the podcast "Films To be Buried With," where he finds out about the lives of comedians, actors and filmmakers by asking them about the films that mean most to them. "Ted Lasso" just started its third and final season. Brett Goldstein, welcome to FRESH AIR.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you, Ann Marie. Thank you for having me.

BALDONADO: I'm going to start by asking you to tell a story that you've told a lot, but it's a great story. How did you get the role of Roy Kent?

GOLDSTEIN: OK, the story goes like this, and it is true. The story is I was a writer on "Ted Lasso." I had done a pilot with Bill Lawrence, one of the co-creators a few years before, and we'd stayed in touch. And he knew I was a writer. And he called me and said, do you want to come write on this TV show about football? We need a British guy. And I said, sounds interesting. And I met with Jason Sudeikis on FaceTime, and then we fell in love. And then I was like, yes, I really, really want to do this. And I went over and was writing Ted Lasso with the team.

And as we were writing it, I started to think, oh, I think I'm Roy Kent. But I also knew no one in the room was thinking of me for obvious reasons. And I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable. And I knew it was going to be awful if I just suddenly said, in the writers room, what about me for Roy Kent? I knew everyone would just be like - everyone would just look at their hands and be like, yeah, good idea. Let's think about it.

So I waited until we'd finished in the writers room. And I made a self-tape of five scenes, and I emailed it. As I flew back to London, I sent an email, and I said, look. I know this is really awkward, so if this is terrible and embarrassing, you can pretend you never got this email, and I will never ask about it. But I think I could be Roy. And so I've made you this video. And if you think it's good, then great. And I sent the email, flew back to London, and as I landed, I got an email saying, this is brilliant. And I thought, oh, they can't be bothered to keep looking. And I got the part.

BALDONADO: What was it that you related to or understood about Roy that made you think, I have to play this guy?

GOLDSTEIN: Well, it was so much of it. I mean, there was parts of it that were very personal to me, and they were parts that I understood from having sort of known these people - is that one thing was I grew up - my dad is, like, a football hooligan and very, very obsessed with football. And I always grew up around footballers and around football. And, you know, we had friends of the family who were professional footballers. And I saw this culture. And as I was a kid, they were getting older and coming to the end of their careers.

And I sort of saw this thing of - it's very tragic. It's very difficult, this transition from - they're not - I can't think of many careers that are like this. I'm sure there are, but football is very specific where you start very, very young. You live this quite insane life that's completely this thing that makes you special, that makes you this kind of amazing thing. And then in your 30s, it starts to come to an end. And not only is that difficult, but you don't really have any other life skills. You've been living in this sort of weird bubble. And for it to - you don't want it to end. You had no plan. But your body doesn't agree. You know what I mean? But then again, I think that that's also a universal feeling, a feeling of aging. And you don't want to age, but your body - your knees don't work as well as they used to. And there's something sort of tragic about that.

And then the other stuff in Roy is, you know, he's a guy who's been raised in this kind of - if you want to call it toxic masculine environment where he's been culturally taught to be tough and to be a wall. And, you know, and it's extreme with him partly because of the position he played. He was a captain, and he's a sort of box-to-box midfielder. His job is to not let people pass him. He has to be a wall. He has to scare people. And the fact that he has all this emotion in him, but he has repressed it for all these years, and he finds it very, very difficult to be vulnerable. And I always had this thing that the reason he talks like that is because he's pushed all his - it's literally like a cork is in his throat, like a cork is holding all his emotions in because if he let it out, he'd be such a wreck, you know?

BALDONADO: Well, I was going to ask about that 'cause, you know, as we can hear, Roy's voice is different from yours. You know, the character's voice is lower, more gravelly, gruffer. Was that the voice there from the beginning? Like, do - and do you have to do anything to go into Roy voice? I should also mention that, like, Roy also kind of walks a certain way, holding himself together.

GOLDSTEIN: Yes. Yes. Well, all of that is - do you know what? It's quite - it's funny because when you do - you know, I'm very grateful for this, by the way. But when you do the press for the show, you end up talking about it in a way that you didn't talk about it when you were making it because when you're making it, as in - look. When we write it, we analyze every single angle, every - you know, it's like a kind of dissection of every person's feeling, every movement - everything. But when it came to acting it, it's all instinctual. I didn't - it's only in hindsight when I talk about it, I go, oh, I think that's why this was this, you know? Except for the stunts, which was definitely - he walks with his shoulders back, really far back, and really tall, A, because he's ready to headbutt anyone at any moment...

BALDONADO: (Laughter).

GOLDSTEIN: ...But that it's also how people, I think, used to be raised. It's like head up, shoulders back, like, as in that shows you're a man, and that shows you're intimidating, and that's confidence. You know what I mean? And he's been - I think he's literally been told that since a child - head up, shoulders back. You know what I mean? And that's - so it's so drilled into him. That's his stance. And with the voice, the voice was, like, instinctual. But when I analyze it, I go, yeah, it's because he's holding everything in and because it's also more intimidating that way.

And there's a footballer that I spoke to in kind of researching this before I played Roy, and he told me this story that I always think about 'cause he - I know this guy, and he's lovely. He's a lovely guy. But when he played football, he was a captain, and he told me, like, his job was to be good at football, but it was also to scare people. He was like, you want people, when they're coming towards you with the ball, that they're scared, that they're thinking, uh-oh, I'm about to face him. And he told me this story of when he was, like, an ageing footballer, when he was in his last few years, he was about to play a game. The teams are on the pitch, sort of warming up before the game.

And there's this young kid, like an 18-year-old, making his debut on the other team. And the kid sort of comes over to him really nervous, and he says, hey, man, sorry to interrupt. I just want to say hello. I have your poster on my wall. You're a legend. You've been my favorite footballer since I was a kid. And my guy turns to the kid, and he goes, who the [expletive] are you? I don't [expletive] know you - because he's about to play him in a game. And the kid was so shocked and horrified, like, oh, God, oh, God (laughter). And he said, and yeah, we won the match that day. And I was like, that's such an interesting story. Like, you know, because I know the guy in real life - he'd have been so flattered, like, oh, wow, that's very nice. Thank you. But not today, not when I'm playing you, son.

BALDONADO: Feels like Roy would do that.

GOLDSTEIN: Absolutely he would, yeah.

BALDONADO: Let's take a short break here, and we'll talk some more. My guest is Emmy Award-winner Brett Goldstein. He stars as Roy Kent in the Apple TV+ series "Ted Lasso." He also writes for the show. He co-created another Apple TV+ series, "Shrinking," starring Jason Segel and Harrison Ford. He hosts the podcast "Films To Be Buried With." More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


BALDONADO: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Ann Marie Baldonado, back with Emmy Award-winner Brett Goldstein. He plays Roy Kent on the series "Ted Lasso." He also writes for the show. And he co-created the show "Shrinking," starring Jason Segel, Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams. He was in the last "Thor" movie and will play the character Hercules moving forward in the Marvel Universe. He also hosts the podcast "Films To Be Buried With."

You know, in some ways, this show's a little bit of a Trojan horse. Like, on the surface, you know, it's a show about sports, but it also takes on feelings of loss, you know, masculinity, relationships between men, fathers and sons. But that's kind of what sports is. Like, our joke in our family is, like, sports are really just soap operas or stories for men.

GOLDSTEIN: Completely. That's a thing we've talked about of - I think sport is there so men can say I love you without saying I love you and that - you know, look; on the one hand, there's - me and my dad talk almost exclusively about football, but it is our way of communicating. You know, I'll call him. What's happening with Tottenham? He tells me all this stuff. Sometimes he'll call me, oh, I didn't tell you about this transfer, this whatever, this minute detail. But I think it is us saying, I love you. I love you (laughter). How are you? I love you. You know what I mean?

And there's the thing of - we talked about this in the writers room of sport being that - and look; this is a gross generalization, so please forgive the generalization of it. But it is something that certainly I know a lot of people relate to, which is - men traditionally aren't great about looking each other in the eye and talking about their feelings. And what sport does in the same way that a car ride does is that you're both facing forward. You don't have to look at each other. You're looking at drama happening in front of you, and you can talk about things because you don't have to look at each other. And if anything gets emotional, it can kind of be blamed on what's happening on the pitch. You know what I mean? And there's something - it's like, if we don't look at each other and we can face this way, then we can talk.

And I'm always fascinated by - particularly when I see really, really repressed, difficult men, but I see them at a game where they're singing, and they're screaming, and they're shouting, and they're crying, and it's like this whole catharsis for them, these feelings that they can't process in the week. Like, sometimes I think football is, like, a therapeutic good for the world, for people who can't ever bring themselves to go to therapy. You know what I mean?

BALDONADO: I think that's true. I like coupling it with the car ride, too. It's like a way for things that don't come out regularly as a way for them to come out, difficult things.

GOLDSTEIN: I'd much - we used to - my friends at uni bought a van, and they called it therapy van. And they'd, like, get their friends, and they'd sit in the front, and the friends would sit in the back, and they'd go, come on, just tell us what's going on in your life and just drive around. 'Cause as long as no one has to look at each other, it's fine.

BALDONADO: You said that you used to be miserable and had a dark brain and that you've worked hard to change that. You know, take a number. No, just kidding.


BALDONADO: Well, but what do you think a younger you would think about the fact that you're credited for making this, like, hopeful show? Because for a lot of people, "Ted Lasso" was, like, this antidote to dark - you know, the pandemic, this dark time. It was, like, this lovely, hopeful thing.

GOLDSTEIN: I mean, look, I really have been on a journey. It is amazing. You asking me that question is making me go, bloody hell. Like, I am proof that people can change, I suppose, and that you can change your worldview and your - I had a very, very dark brain. I think I was very miserable and used to write - when I found, like, sort of old - I was always writing, and I found kind of old stories when I was moving house. Like, I found a box of, like, old stuff from university and early 20s, like, short stories and things I'd written. And they're so dark, like, horrible, (laughter) horrible...

BALDONADO: Like what? Like, what kind of darkness?

GOLDSTEIN: Just sort of - they never had a happy ending. They were always a pretty bleak view of humanity. And, you know, they would - I don't want to go into too specifics, but just, like - just horrible. Just reading them - like, Jesus, man, you were not a happy boy. But I think a number of things changed that. You know, one is sort of - one is therapy, for sure. Therapy was hugely helpful. The other was sort of life experience and realizing, you know, I have an incredible life. I'm the luckiest guy in the world. And if you're not appreciating that, then you're insane. You know, it's like - there's that.

But also, it's mostly - I suppose it's mostly therapy and then realizing - I've talked about this on my podcast. And it's not a joke because I really think this was, like, a profound moment in - as a writer, as a creative, which is - I saw a film. Maybe I won't name it again. But there's a film that was critically acclaimed, five stars everywhere, you know, this year's masterpiece. And I went to see it. And it is so profoundly bleak and depressing and - hate this film.

And I went to see it on a Saturday night with my friend. And we sat there, and it was, like - an hour into this and - it's based on a true story. But horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible and then, about an hour in, something even more horrible happens. And it's just shot really slowly. Like, you're just sort of watching this act of sexual violence happen, and it happens for, like, three minutes. The camera just held on it. And I turned to my friend as a joke, and I went, that's entertainment. And I thought, what are we doing? Like, why have we paid to see this thing?

And it really sort of stuck with me as, like, I think this film is bad. I think this is bad art because there's no glimmer of light in it. There's no humor in it. There's no - this isn't how life is. And I know this is a true story, and these horrible events did happen. Yes. But if you've experienced horrible events, if you've read books written by survivors of horrible events, there are always, always jokes in them. There's a moment where they laugh. There's a moment where they held each other. There's a moment of connection, of love, of light in everything. And if you make something that doesn't have any of that, I think it's bad art. I think you've not watched life. You know what I mean?

I can't - I - there's a - at the other end of this scale, there's a film I'm obsessed with called "Dear Sama" (ph), which is a documentary made by people who are literally living in the middle of a war zone. There are doctors staying in a hospital that is relentlessly being bombed. And it is - you know, they're in the most extreme kind of - you can't think of anything worse. Like, there are dead bodies. There are dead children. Like, it's hardcore, hardcore, tough, horrendous.

And yet within this film that is set over a year, I think, they get secretly married at one point. There is love. There's dancing. There's laughter. There's - it's one of the most romantic films I've ever seen. Like, it's so beautiful and profound and has far more laughs than you might think from the description. And that's real life. That is their existence. And I go, that's the stuff that matters. Like, that's important. I don't want to see something that - where the message seems to be, what's the point of anything? Like, I'm like, we're all there anyway. I don't need a reminder of that. You know what I mean?

BALDONADO: Right. Right.

GROSS: We're listening to the interview FRESH AIR's Ann Marie Baldonado recorded with Brett Goldstein, a co-star of and writer for the series "Ted Lasso." He also co-created the series "Shrinking." We'll hear more of their interview after a break, and Justin Chang will review a new film he describes as a harrowing story about two African migrant children living in a bustling Belgian city. I am Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Let's get back to our interview with Emmy Award-winning actor, comic and writer Brett Goldstein. He plays Roy Kent in the Apple TV+ series "Ted Lasso." He also writes for the show. And he co-created another Apple TV+ series, "Shrinking," which stars Jason Segel and Harrison Ford. All of Season 1 of "Shrinking" is now streaming. "Ted Lasso" just started its third and final season.

BALDONADO: I want to talk to you about "Shrinking," the other show you co-created, with Bill Lawrence, who also co-created "Ted Lasso." Jason Segel is also a co-creator. The first season of that show just ended. And congratulations. It's been renewed for a second season.


BALDONADO: It's about Jimmy, played by Jason Segel, who's lost his way. He's dealing with the tragic death of his wife. And as the show goes on, he's trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter. I should say that this is another comedy, even though the main characters are dealing with grief. Jimmy's a therapist, and he decides he wants to change his approach to therapy. He starts to blur the boundaries between therapist and patient. Harrison Ford plays Jimmy's boss, who's also a therapist. He's also Jimmy's mentor. That character, Paul, is grumpy. He's good at his job. And he's also dealing with a Parkinson's diagnosis, which is progressing.

I want to play a scene from the first episode of the show. Jimmy, Jason Segal's character, is frustrated with one of his patients. He wants to try that new approach and goes into the break room in their offices to talk to his boss, Paul, who's played by Harrison Ford, and another therapist, Gaby, who's played by Jessica Williams.


HARRISON FORD: (As Paul) Hey, kid. How you doing?

JASON SEGEL: (As Jimmy) I'm normal. You know, it's a normal day. Normal day. Doing it normal style. Hey, you know what I was thinking, Paul?

JESSICA WILLIAMS: (As Gaby) Is it about how you're just doing it normal style?

FORD: (As Paul) What? What are you thinking?

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) Do you guys ever get so mad at your patients that, all of a sudden, you just want to, like, shake them?

FORD: (As Paul) Oh, we don't shake them.

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) No, I know. I know. I'm rooting for them. I am. I'm like, come on, you [expletive] person. You can change. And then they just never do.

FORD: (As Paul) Compassion fatigue. We all hit those walls.

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) Yeah.

FORD: (As Paul) We ask questions. They listen. You stay nonjudgmental. And you don't make that face.

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) Sorry. It's just - look; we know what they should do. You know why? 'Cause it's pretty simple. I get sad when I do this thing. Maybe don't do that thing. We know the answer. Don't you ever want to just make them do it?

FORD: (As Paul) Great idea. We just rob them of their autonomy, any chance they have to help themselves, right? And we become - what? - psychological vigilantes?

WILLIAMS: (As Gaby, laughter) Oh, my God. I'm, like, sensing the sarcasm, but that sounds kind of badass.

FORD: (As Paul) What did you do?

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) I didn't do anything.

WILLIAMS: (As Gaby) Ooh, you're going to get it.

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) Don't say, ooh. Look; I'm stuck. I'm - that's it. I'm just trying to shake things up. Thought I would talk about it with you guys. Ran out of time, so I have to go because I have a patient.

WILLIAMS: (As Gaby) You don't have a watch on.

SEGEL: (As Jimmy) And I hope everybody has a great day because I'm going to go handle this one by the book.

BALDONADO: That's a scene from the first episode of "Shrinking." You can find all the episodes, by the way, of Season 1 on Apple TV+. How did you get Harrison Ford to be on the show? I should say that he's on another TV show now, but he hasn't really done TV before or comedy, for that matter, in a while, if at all.

GOLDSTEIN: We thought, we're never getting Harrison Ford. Of course, we're not getting Harrison Ford. We sent the script to Harrison Ford just so we could get on with our lives. His agent read it and was like, oh, this is good. Harrison's in London. One of you should meet with him. I was in London filming "Ted Lasso," and everyone else was in America. And so Bill says, well, Brett can meet with Harrison if he wants. And I'm in my house. I have a call, and I don't recognize the number, so I'm like, no, thanks (laughter), and I reject it. And then I have a voicemail, which I've kept to this day, and it says, hey, it's Harrison Ford. And I was like, what the heck? And he says, call me back.

And I call Harrison - I immediately call him 'cause I know I'm going to freak out if I think about it for any length of time. So I call him. He says, hey. And I go, hi, it's Brett here. Hello, Harrison. And I say, how's it going? He goes, fine, I'm just at work. And he was working on a little independent film called "Indiana Jones 5." And he says, do you want to meet for dinner on Saturday night? And I say, oh, I can't. I've got a gig - 'cause I do stand-up. I had a stand-up gig booked. And he goes, oh, and he seems sort of - slightly sort of annoyed. And then we hang up, and I call back Bill, and I go, well, I spoke to Harrison, but he wanted to have dinner on Saturday, and I said, I can't because I've got a gig. And Bill was like, cancel the gig. It's Harrison Ford. No one cancels on him.

And so I texted him, and I was like, hey, sorry about Saturday. I don't know if you're - if you have plans on Friday, but maybe I could meet you after work. And he says, yeah, I can meet you for like half an hour between 6:30 and 7. And so I think, oh, you know, I've been downgraded. So I go, I get a taxi to his place, and I'm really, really nervous. And he answers the door, and he's literally Indiana Jones. And he stood there as - he's Indiana Jones. And I'm like, hello. And we go inside. And he says, best script I've ever read. And I go, "Shrinking"?

BALDONADO: (Laughter).

GOLDSTEIN: 'Cause I can't believe - I've seen his - I'm like, this can't be the best script you've ever read (laughter). And he goes, best dialogue I've ever read. And I look on the table, and he's got a load of scripts on the table for different things. And I'm like, oh, no, this is embarrassing; he thinks I'm someone else. And I'm sort of looking through the scripts he has, and I find "Shrinking," and I go, "Shrinking" - point at it. Are you sure? And he goes, best dialogue I've ever read. And I go, oh, right. Do you want to do it, then? And he goes, yeah. And I go, OK. And he goes, is that business done? And I go, looks like it. And he goes, let's eat. And then we sat, and I stayed with him all night till about midnight, 1 in the morning. And we talked about the part, talked about life, everything. It was unbelievable. And I remember thinking, yeah, I assumed this is what Hollywood was like. This is how it works.


BALDONADO: Well, I want to bring it back to "Ted Lasso" for a moment because Ted starts going to therapy in Season 2 to deal with his panic attacks and grief, you know, I would say. And he has a breakthrough with his therapist when he kind of finds out more about her. And now even in Season 3, he wants to reserve some of his time in therapy sessions to ask his therapist personal questions. And she begrudgingly allows it. And that reminded me of Jimmy in "Shrinking," who, you know, wants to change up or transform that therapist-patient relationship, like, sort of, you know, blur the boundaries. First, why do you like to write about therapy so much? And what is it about the patient-therapist relationship that you find interesting?

GOLDSTEIN: That's a good question. I think that it's inherently so kind of dramatic and interesting. It's quite a unique - such a unique relationship between a therapist and a patient, the fact that they can know more about you than anyone, maybe, if you're being honest with them. And yet, you know, it's professional. And you're paying them to listen and that there are boundaries. But this relationship can go on for years and years. Some people have the same therapist for 40 years or something. And it's such a strange - there's no other relationship like it, I don't think. There's no equivalent.

And I don't know. It just - and it's also - I just think it's dramatically interesting. And the fact that - you know, look; in "Shrinking," the Jimmy part of it, I guess, on some level, is wish fulfillment. I've heard from therapists that it's a wish fulfillment show for them - that they're like, God, I'd love to be able to say these things to my clients or do these things, but obviously you can't. And similarly, I think people often say about their therapist, I wish you'd just tell me what to do, or what is your life? I don't know anything about you, and I'm telling you everything. This is so unfair. And I think - yeah, I just think all those boundaries and playing with them in a dramatic context is fun and juicy.

But in real life, I just - you know, it's - I think it's quite interesting. The thing that happens with Dr. Sharon and Ted is - yeah, is that she realizes the key to his treatment is I have to let him in a bit in a way that she wouldn't do with anyone else. And that's quite - that's because she's good at her job, you know? I don't know. I find all that stuff fascinating. Like, I think I know a fair bit about my therapist, but I also probably don't know anything. Maybe she's lying to me. Who knows?


GOLDSTEIN: Maybe she tells me what she thinks I need to hear.

BALDONADO: Let's take a short break here, and we'll talk some more. My guest is Emmy Award winner Brett Goldstein. He stars as Roy Kent in the Apple TV+ series "Ted Lasso." He also writes for the show. He co-created another Apple TV+ series, "Shrinking," starring Jason Segel and Harrison Ford. He hosts the podcast "Films To Be Buried With." More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


BALDONADO: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Ann Marie Baldonado, back with Emmy Award winner Brett Goldstein. He plays Roy Kent on the series "Ted Lasso." He also writes for the show. And he co-created the show "Shrinking," starring Jason Segel, Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams. He was in the last "Thor" movie and will play the character Hercules moving forward in the Marvel Universe. He also hosts the podcast "Films To Be Buried With."

I want to play another scene from "Shrinking." This is a scene with Harrison Ford and the actress who plays Jimmy's daughter, the teenage girl who has lost her mom. And she is struggling and not getting along with her dad, who hasn't really been there for her. Paul, Harrison Ford's character, meets with her to kind of fill in. He meets with her periodically. And here in this scene, they're in a park talking about one of the girl's friends. The daughter is played by Lukita Maxwell.


LUKITA MAXWELL: (As Alice) Summer's so dumb. She wants me to go to this thing called Drinks Under the Bridge.

FORD: (As Paul) What is that?

MAXWELL: (As Alice) It's where they go and have drinks under a bridge.

FORD: (As Paul) Oh. Well, then it's a very good name for it.

MAXWELL: (As Alice) They just all act so immature.

FORD: (As Paul) Well, they are immature. They're teenagers. They haven't been through what you've been through.

MAXWELL: (As Alice) Well, then they're lucky.

FORD: (As Paul) For now. Nobody gets through this life unscathed, not you, not me, Mr. Shaky Hands. But then you're left with a choice. Are you going to let your grief drown you? Or are you going to face it and come through the other side?

MAXWELL: (As Alice) I just miss her, and no one gets it.

FORD: (As Paul) I know someone who does. He's tall, and he calls me too much. Nice shot.

MAXWELL: (As Alice) He wants to do dinners now.

FORD: (As Paul) What a [expletive].

MAXWELL: (As Alice, laughter) I can't just all of a sudden pretend that everything's OK between us.

FORD: (As Paul) You ever heard of fake it 'till you make it? Play the part of his daughter for - give it an hour.

MAXWELL: (As Alice) An hour? I've decided therapy sucks.

FORD: (As Paul) This isn't therapy. These are just chats that your dad should never know about.

MAXWELL: (As Alice) Why not?

FORD: (As Paul) Because he'll make a big deal out of it. And he'll want to hug me or something like that.

MAXWELL: (As Alice, laughter) Yeah, he would.

FORD: (As Paul) So what do you think? One dinner. Go get some sandwiches from that Nashville chicken place. And then afterwards, you can go by the bridge and judge some stupid teenagers.

BALDONADO: That's a scene from the Apple TV+ show "Shrinking." That's such a good scene. And I love that in a talk that's supposed to make someone feel better, Paul says, nobody gets through this life unscathed.


BALDONADO: Now, you've said that you can't imagine dealing with a show about death and grief without comedy. And I totally agree. Can you talk more about that?

GOLDSTEIN: It's weird how we - we got asked this a lot when we were making "Shrinking." Like, how is this a comedy? And I get when you lay out the it's not - you know, there's nothing funny in the plot of it. And - but people talk about the tone of it. How do you get that tone right? And it's just how I see life. Like, it isn't - everything is funny or sad, and it's both, you know? Like, it's - and it's how we cope, and it's how - I think it's how my brain works.

Like - but I also know it's everyone's story. Nearly everyone can tell you if they've been with a loved one on their deathbed - there'll be a moment within that week that they were there where they were crying - laughing hysterically. They were crying with laughter - you know, something happened or a story they were telling or - there was a moment that happened to me where - it was such a small moment, but I remember thinking, this is it. This is life.

I was at a thing, and it was a very emotional, kind of private, moving, important thing. And it was, you know, lots of people crying and emotional. And in this very sort of quiet thing - and someone was speaking at the front, and it was very, very moving, and everyone was kind of leaning in, and it felt very special, everyone being there for this thing. And behind me - I was at the back. And behind me, a woman was - quite an old woman was setting up the tea for after the service. And the tray she was using was on these wheels, and one of the wheels was squeaky. And the tray was shaking so much that - this really moving thing was happening, and behind me was this woman making so much noise, but also trying not to make noise, which was kind of making it even louder. And it was so funny.

Like, so it was literally I was in the middle of a very powerful, moving thing happen and just life behind me, just a woman trying to be quiet and finding it impossible to be quiet and stacking these cups. And they were making so much noise. And it just went on for ages, her trying to stack these cups. And I thought, this is life. This is literally - I'm literally in the middle of this powerful, beautiful, profound thing in front of me, and behind me, this ridiculous, mundane thing of a woman trying to stack some cups quietly. You know what I mean? I was like, this is it. This is all of it in one moment.

BALDONADO: I want to ask you, even though everyone else has asked you this - it's the report that this is the last season of "Ted Lasso." The show's creators...


BALDONADO: ...Have always imagined the story to be a three-act arc.


BALDONADO: I read you cried during the filming of these last episodes, knowing that it's the end.

GOLDSTEIN: Shut up. You cried.

BALDONADO: I'm sure I did, in fact.


BALDONADO: Did you - like, did it feel that way at the - you know, filming these last episodes?

GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, it's - yeah, I think - well, to be fair, it's emotional every season when we finish because - I think people must be sick of hearing it, but, like, it's - I really, really love making "Ted Lasso." It's such a wonderful group of people. And I do think that some of the magic of it is that we all care about it as much as you care about it. You know what I mean? Like, we really, really care about it, and we're so grateful to be there. And it's fun. It's not like it's, like, a grind, you know?


GOLDSTEIN: It's really good people working on something that we think is really good and we really care about. And so it's always sad when it comes to the end of shooting 'cause you think, oh, I like hanging out with these people every day (laughter).

BALDONADO: Brett Goldstein, congratulations on your success, and thank you so much for your time.

GOLDSTEIN: Thank you. You've been a pleasure. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.

GROSS: Brett Goldstein spoke with FRESH AIR's Ann Marie Baldonado. The third and final season of "Ted Lasso" just started streaming on Apple TV+, where you can find the first season of Goldstein's series "Shrinking."

After a short break, Justin Chang will review a new movie by the acclaimed filmmakers the Dardenne brothers. Justin says it's their best film in years. This is FRESH AIR.


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