Awards Daily talks to Toheeb Jimoh about the sacred space of the locker room and whether Sam is over Rebecca in Season 3 of Ted Lasso.
After last season’s hot romance between Sam (Toheeb Jimoh) and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), the thing on every Ted Lasso fan’s mind is whether these two are really over each other.
“I think we left that romance in a place at the end of Season 2 where they both decided they were going to go off and do what’s best for them,” says Jimoh. “Sometimes I feel like, in relationships and romance, you’ve got to fill your own cup before you can add to somebody else’s. I think that’s where Sam’s at. He’s filling his own cup.”
Literally! In Season 3, Sam opens a new restaurant with lots of cups (and mismatched silverware!), all of which come with an additional found family—even though he’s also hoping Ola’s impresses his biological family, specifically his father (Nonso Anozie), whom the restaurant is named for. Incidentally, it’s also named for Jimoh’s father.
“Joe Kelly, one of our lead writers, let me name it after my dad. It’s really funny. The first thing I would do is name this restaurant after my dad, and I also felt like it would be the same thing for Sam. Also, there are so many Nigerians called Ola, so I just tell them it’s named after them as well,” he says with a laugh.
‘He Can Give All of This To Them’
Ted Lasso has become known for its emotional locker room scenes. In Season 2, Roy (Bret Goldstein) embraced Jamie (Phil Dunster) in an unexpected moment, and in Season 3, when Sam discovers that his restaurant has been vandalized, he turns to his father, who unexpectedly shows up, and hugs him.
“I’d like to think part of the draw of Ted Lasso is indulging in your found family. That’s Sam’s journey from Season 1. He started where he really needed to find his found family and he was a bit disgruntled. If his dad wasn’t there, somebody else would have filled that role, whether that was Ted, whether that was Roy, whether that was Isaac—we’re at a point now where somebody would have attempted to soothe him, and I think that’s the point of that scene.”
When Sam confides in the team about his tweet to Britain’s Home Secretary and her curt response, he really lets it all out.
“Jason [Sudeikis] kept saying to me, ‘He can give all of this to them.’ When he’s in the restaurant, he can’t respond or react, but as soon as he enters the changing room, this is a sacred space, and they can take it. He can give all of it, all of that negative energy, frustration, and pain—he can give that to everyone in that room because he knows they understand him and they are willing to harbor it.”
‘He’s the Ted Lasso of that Restaurant’
Last season, Sam chose to stay with AFC Richmond instead of playing for his home country. In Season 3, he’s laying down roots in the UK, especially with the opening of Ola’s restaurant.
“The restaurant and business side feels like Sam fully manifested as his own man, as his own person. That’s a representation of him treading his own path. This is the start of him starting his own life, and even taking the lessons he’s learned from Ted and spreading them. He’s the Ted Lasso of that restaurant. That restaurant is really representative of Sam standing on his own two feet, as a person. Learning all the lessons from his dad, from the Lasso way, and putting them into practice himself.”
He’s also able to help immigrants like himself find a home away from home.
“It’s a safe space for other Nigerians or other people. It’s less having to prove something and more, ‘This is what I’m going to do with the opportunity I have.’ His dad tells him to look for a sign for the universe, and the sign is you can have both. You can have a home away from home, and there’s so much good you can do in this country.”
Jimoh admits how weird it is that the storylines they worked on months ago sync up with current events as they are airing, like former professional footballer Gary Lineker’s tweet controversy from this past March, where we criticized the Home Secretary’s immigration policy (sound familiar?).
“There really is this interesting thing where we see celebrities, athletes, actors, or artists on TV and we expect them to be that. Give us the thing we pay you money to do, and don’t be a human being.”
While filming the episode “The Strings that Binds Us,” Jimoh thought about LeBron James and his More than an Athlete movement, Colin Kaepernick, and more specifically, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka, three Black footballers who experienced racism after suffering a loss at Euro 2020.
“When Sam says, ‘When I miss a penalty kick. . .’ that’s a direct reference to that [Euro 2020]. Those are real feelings. Those are feelings that I felt.”
Ted Lasso is streaming on Apple TV+.