‘Ted Lasso:’ Phil Dunster Almost Wasn’t Jamie Tartt

The characters are arguably the best part of Ted Lasso. From the folksy and kindhearted titular character to the surprisingly empathetic Rebecca Walton to the gruff Roy Kent, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, and Brett Goldstein playing those characters.

Ted Lasso casting director Theo Park recently revealed that the original cast wasn’t what it is now. In fact, two pivotal characters were completely different from how they are currently portrayed on the show. 

Before 'Ted Lasso': Phil Dunster attends the inaugural Autograph Collection Hotels Short Film Award in partnership with the National Film and Television School on February 15, 2018 in London, England.
‘Ted Lasso’ star Phil Dunster | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Autograph Collection Hotels

‘Ted Lasso’ casting couldn’t find Dani Rojas

According to Awards Radar’s press conference coverage, Jamie Tartt was not in the original script. However, Dani Rojas was.

Instead of the jovial “football is life” sweetheart we know him as now, Rojas would be the arrogant star player we know Jamie Tartt to be. However, like the current Rojas actor Cristo Fernández, the character was intended to be of Latin descent. 

“We looked in America, we looked all over the UK, we looked in Europe, and we couldn’t quite get it,” Park admitted. Although during that time, they did find Fernández. “He wasn’t quite right because he’s so smiley and happy and gorgeous, and he didn’t quite have that arrogant streak, but he did the most amazing tape,” Park said.

Cristo Fernández was right for the wrong role

Fernández used to be a pro football player in Guadalajara, Mexico, before being cast in Ted Lasso. He also just so happened to have completed a year’s training in acting in Britain and retained a British agent. 

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 15: Cristo Fernández attends Apple's "Ted Lasso" season two premiere at Pacific Design Center on July 15, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Cristo Fernández attends Apple’s “Ted Lasso” season 2 premiere | Photo by Emma McIntyre/WireImage

Once Park and her team saw his audition, they knew they wanted him for the show. “Everyone saw his tape and were like, ‘Okay, so he’s not Dani Rojas, but we’ve got to get him in this! We’ve got to get him!.”

Jamie Tartt almost had an accent

Concurrently, Phil Dunster auditioned for the Rojas character. “Dunster was right for the part, but he was British,” Park explained. In another interview with Awards Radar, Dunster admitted to even doing an accent for his audition. “I originally did a terrible Spanish accent for Dani Rojas. They were like, we liked you, but that accent has to go.” 

He tried the same thing for Jamie Tartt. “I had originally gone for the Jamie Tartt role with a Spanish accent, and then they were like, cool, but let’s just try a different accent. So I came in with the Manchester accent.”

The ‘Ted Lasso’ writers worked around Dani Rojas and Jamie Tartt’s character changes.

Once Park decided that both actors needed to be in the show, she took their tapes to producers Jason Sudeikis, Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt, and the writers’ room. They then agreed to change characters and plot points to suit this new narrative. 

Cristo Fernández, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Moe Jeudy-Lamour attend Apple's "Ted Lasso" season two premiere at Pacific Design Center on July 15, 2021 in West Hollywood, California.
Cristo Fernández, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Moe Jeudy-Lamour attend Apple’s ‘Ted Lasso’ season 2 premiere Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“We made Phil Dunster’s Jamie Tartt British, and then we created this whole new character called Dani Rojas. And that’s Cristo Fernandez. That’s all down to just the genius of two different actors who just outshone everybody else that we auditioned, getting parts written around them,” Park said in summary.

RELATED: ‘Ted Lasso’: Jamie Tartt’s Phil Dunster Explains How Those Soccer Scenes Are Filmed — ‘It Takes a Lot of Time and Good Editors’