Awards Daily talks to Jodi Balfour about romancing Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) in Season 3 of Ted Lasso.
Like so many of us, Jodi Balfour loved the coziness of Ted Lasso seasons 1 and 2. So when she was cast as Jack, Keeley’s new love interest, she was a little anxious about boarding an award-winning juggernaut.
“It was like this cozy blanket of a TV show to watch in this much-needed moment,” says Balfour. “Anything that populous and in everybody’s consciousness, it can feel a little intimidating to join such a beast of a show. But everyone was the loveliest.”
Jack comes along right when Keeley (Juno Temple) needs her the most, fresh off of a breakup with Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein). As a queer woman, Balfour says she didn’t provide a lot of input into their romance but does remember one particular note.
“In a scene in Episode 7 [“The Strings that Bind Us”], where Jack walks into the public office space and announces their relationship, I pulled Jason [Sudeikis] aside and said, ‘Could I ask Keeley if that’s okay with her first?’ As someone who occupies this space, I would never just out someone potentially. Keeley’s not not out, but Jack doesn’t know how public she is about her queerness. Little moments like that. And everyone was just like, ‘Oh, yeah! Totally!’ They come from the perspective of knowing that Keeley is fully public about this, but I came from the perspective that Jack might not know that.”
Ted Lasso is no stranger to quasi-inappropriate office relationships, especially with last season’s exploration of Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and Sam (Toheeb Jimoh). Balfour says there is an argument to be made that sometimes you just love somebody you work with.
“I think it was important to make sure the introductory romantic moment was deeply consensual and started with Keeley, that Keeley was the one to make the first move. Obviously, it’s not as simple as that always in our very challenging, complex world where there’s so much more at play, but I think it was very clear that this was coming from a deeply consensual, deeply playful place. Technically Jack’s not her boss; she’s her financier.”
Jamie, Roy, and now Jack—they all seem to be complete opposite from the last one. What attracts Keeley to a person?
“I guess we all have brown hair,” says Balfour with a laugh. “I guess you could say that she is attracted to people in power—all three have status and power. Beyond that, I don’t know.”
Like her previous relationships, Keeley’s relationship with Jack has some heartbreaking moments, like when Jack introduces her as a “friend” at the mini-golf.
“It is quite sweet and charming for a second and then that all comes crashing down. As an actor, playing those moments is really rich and fun. Jack doesn’t want to be doing that. She’s being governed by her total-being-in-the-grips-of-what-other-people-think-ness which has clouded her judgment for most of her life. It’s fun to play because there’s the love and connection, and Jack’s psychology is at play counteracting that. Instead of having to feel any of those potential feelings, the path of least resistance is to dismiss the whole thing.”
Some LGBTQ fans have lamented online about the trope of the queer female character becoming a villain, but Balfour doesn’t see Jack that way.
“I get why other people see her that way, but I see her as a human. She made some specific-to-her choices that people didn’t like, and I didn’t even like by the way—I’m definitely Team Keeley in terms of the video—but she is also made up of her history and psychology and limitations and conditioning. I think in that last episode, all of those things are way in the forefront. She’s a woman in a man’s world, and she’s characterized by her father’s points of view. In that moment [when she asks Keeley to apologize], we just see her completely succumb to that rather than be her own person. I hope we can all sort of relate to that in our own ways in some moments.”
Season 3 of Ted Lasso is streaming on Apple TV+.