Spoilers for Ted Lasso Season 2 Follow!
While the critically successful Ted Lasso is in the middle of filming what looks to be its third and final season, audiences are still reeling from the season 2 finale. In particular, the actions of a fan favorite turned public enemy no. 1, Nate the not-so-great, portrayed by the talented Nick Mohammed. Following the feel-good and massively popular first season which saw fans fall in love with the cast and crew of Ted Lasso, the second season provided a darker and more introspective look at its characters. There’s no better example of this darker tone of than the character of Nate, whose insecurity and bitterness led him to some genuinely heartbreaking choices in Ted Lasso Season 2.
Ted Lasso makes for a show filled to the brim with layered and lovable characters. Part of its charm and why it works so well for mass audiences (garnering 20 Emmy nominations and 7 wins so far) is due to the vulnerability the actors put on display. Nick Mohammed was challenged with an arc so heavy that it would go on to serve as the emotional crux of Ted Lasso Season 2. Nate’s fall from grace, portrayed brilliantly by Mohammed, delivers the betrayal of Ted and the team at AFC Richmond with subtlety. Mohammed’s performance as Nate was known mostly for providing levity up until that point, making his turn to coaching a rival team in West Ham United all the more heartbreaking yet somehow understandable. .
We had to pleasure of diving into Nate’s journey in Ted Lasso with Nick Mohammed himself, charting these last two seasons and where he’s currently headed in Season 3 with his interactions with particular characters and new dynamics. The actor also shares with us whether or not Nate might be redeemed and if Ted Lasso really is on the verge of its final season.
First of all, what was your reaction when you first found out where Nate was heading in Ted Lasso Season 2? Did you always see him as capable of the bitterness you see throughout the season and were you comfortable with that?
Nick Mohammed: I knew [about Nate’s arc] quite early on when we were filming season one of Ted Lasso. I remember quite distinctly being sat with Jason [Sudeikis] while filming season one, and he outlined the arc for Nate across three seasons. This was before the renewal for seasons two and three. They had those character arcs mapped out for everyone, not just Nate. It was quite clear early on that season two was going to be the sort of Empire Strikes Back of the series. The darker season for me. Effectively, it’s sort of a villain origin story.
In terms of whether I was comfortable with it, I was very excited because it felt like a fun and interesting position, and it’s seeded along the way. I always had constant questions as to how much of it needed dialing up in the earlier episodes. How much too kind of hide, but it’s all there. If you go back and watch it from the start, you can see a few of those warning signs.
Speaking of your conversations with Jason Sudeikis, what was it like filming that last scene with him? What was your mindset going into shooting that final confrontation?
Nick Mohammed: I knew that it was coming for a long time, that there would be this standoff between Ted and me. That it was going to be a big part of the season finale. I got sent the script a couple of weeks before shooting it, so I was prepped as much as you can be. I felt oddly pressured in that I just knew it was an important thing to get right. I knew there had to be an authenticity to it. Partly because it’s such a big heel turn for Nate, you know? You compare him being promoted at the end of season one and how joyful that is, and then the end of season two and how dark, bitter that is.
So I felt like we had to earn it. That came in the form of trying to play to the believability of the whole world [of Ted Lasso]. The whole journey, really. But particularly, that scene, and to be honest, because I’m not really a dramatic actor or anything, I had to rely on a lot of support. Jason was incredible in that scene, not just to act against but also how he almost coached me through it.
We also had a great director, Declan Lowney, who has done a lot of Ted lasso. He was there on that quiet set, we shot it in the morning, and we did it in two or three takes and it was done. Without being pretentious about it, because it’s acting and it’s all fine, we’re all friends, but I just paced around the locker room, almost trying to work myself up a bit. Because I don’t really know what else to do.
Jason was great. He asked if I wanted any help with getting into that mindset. I said, “Oh, god, yeah, anything you can do.” So he would get inside my head in a good way and be like, “You’re a failure. You’ve betrayed everyone.” He was saying loads of things, almost as if he was Nate’s dad, talking to me in the form of that character. So eventually when Ted says [in the scene] “What’s wrong?” – which is really Nate’s dad asking that – Nate then says all these things that he should really be saying to his dad. There were some fun mind tricks in trying to make it feel as real as possible. It oddly felt quite moving.
It was difficult saying those things to Jason as Ted because I felt like he was so vulnerable. And he’s such a great actor, which makes your job a lot easier because he’s reacting exactly the way that someone would probably react if you’re saying such nasty things to them. It’s a bit of a blur, really. I remember afterward thinking, “I’m just glad that it’s over.” They asked me if I wanted to watch the playback [of the scene] and I responded that I didn’t know if I wanted to. I thought it would be best to probably just step away from it because you can start to fret over those things, and then you start overthinking it. Overall, it needed to feel quite raw and real.
What are your thoughts on the final shot of Season 2? Your eyes are the last thing audiences see, with the light leaving them…
Nick Mohammed: I remember Brett [Goldstein] had texted me before we even started shooting season two saying “We open and close the season on your eyes. Just have that in the back of your head.” We filmed the season in order, but I think we might have filmed that last shot of the season before we did the scene where Ted and Nate confront each other. Either way, I remember we shot lots of options for it. Because there was an option which is in the final cut, which is him going towards the camera and is quite focused, there was a slight eyebrow raise, almost like a smugness, like he knows what he’s doing.
Like, this is his ambition.
Nick Mohammed: Yeah, exactly. But there were other options, and I don’t think that they were right, which is probably why they didn’t use them. One was a take where I was getting close to the camera with a sort of hesitancy like, “What the hell have I done?” Although, in the end, it was absolutely about embracing the ambition. And that’s where we see Nate now in season three.
Nate’s family, and specifically his relationship with his father which we spoke about earlier, has really been an essential part of his character. Can we expect any more development regarding Nate’s family in the coming season?
Nick Mohammed: I don’t know if I’m honest. There are things that must be addressed. We haven’t shot stuff yet for that. I can’t really comment on it. But like a lot of Ted Lasso’s characters, there are a lot of father and children relationship dynamics. A mentor and a mentee, those kinds of themes come up again and again [in the series]. Undoubtedly, I would say that Nate needs to have some kind of conversation with his dad. It’s interesting because it feels important. However, those scenes are very fleeting in season two.
We see them in the restaurant, and then we see them at home at breakfast time. But that’s all and a lot of it is suggested, you know? Just like little comments here or there that either Nate’s making or assumptions that are made. And with Nate, there’s an element of it being a bit of death by 1000 cuts, you just know? There’s the constant little ticking, there’s no one big thing with his parents that made him feel like he’s never quite worth worthwhile.
What was it like for you as an actor to see fans react to your somewhat villainous arc this past season? How do you think they’ll feel about Nate’s future?
Nick Mohammed: I can only comment on what I’ve seen, and I understood that if I started scrolling social media, that’s basically what Nate does. I figured I should stay off it because there’s an element of art imitating life, which would be unhealthy. So weirdly, I was in America when the season finale dropped, and that’s when I was on my own. Jason was sweet and had messaged me the night before it came out, saying things like, “It’s all good. This is exactly how we need the audience to feel.”
Obviously, there was an outpouring of like, “Oh, what have you done?!” It was all in the spirit of “We hate Nate.” But it’s correct because you should hate him for what he’s done because he’s betrayed the person who helped him. Nate is clearly in the middle of his journey. He’s absolutely made a series of bad decisions and must own that. He’s going to have to pay for it to some degree, I think.
As much as I did see the odd thing on Twitter and articles online, I think there certainly seems to be enough people open to the idea of… a redemption arc. You know, it almost feels like Nate will get redeemed because that’s what the show does. However, he’s overstepped the mark with Keeley, Ted, and the whole of AFC Richmond. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a character who they can’t redeem. We’ll see. I think people are kind of hanging in the balance, and it’s certainly one of the things that people will see addressed in season three.
You’re doing your job right if you get such an outpouring of the same reaction to your character.
Nick Mohammed: Yeah, it’s been fine. That’s all in the spirit of the show. Occasionally, I had to remind myself that it’s fiction. “It’s fiction, it’s fine.” More often than not, it lists people just really digging on the show and not liking where an actor had to have gone, which is fine.
You’ve been nominated for an Emmy before. It was well deserved, and Nate’s journey is far from over. Do you feel as if his journey will force you to push your limits as an actor further as he becomes a force to be reckoned with?
Nick Mohammed: Oh, that’s a good question. I feel like, particularly the latter half of season two, was a challenge in and of itself from an acting point of view. My background is in comedy really, more than doing anything emotional or dramatic. It’s fair to say that you can anticipate more of that in season three because Nate’s troubled, and is at this very turbulent point in his journey. Obviously, being in West Ham United with Rupert, and Rupert’s hardly going to be a force for good, right? So I think it has already been challenging. But only challenging in the sense that I feel to be in a very privileged position. To be in the hands of such great writers.
I’m really fortunate to be playing this part, which goes up and down over time. All I’ll say is that say pretty much every scene that we’ve shot so far of season three, there is sort of two versions of Nate playing the scene, really. There’s the version of Nate which is the bitter one and there’s one that maybe has echoes of season one Nate, and they’re kind of competing for screen time. If I’m honest, I’m not sure of that balancing act. So much of it will be in the edit and what they choose. Sometimes, I just have to go for it and let them take the reins in the edit.
Finally, I want to ask you about the longevity of the show. Do you see Ted Lasso lasting a couple more seasons, and what type of roles do you want to tackle after the show ends?
Nick Mohammed: Oh, goodness, that’s a question and a half. I don’t know, that’s the honest answer. Not trying to be teasing, I don’t know whether it’s the end or not. I mean, they’ve been quite open about saying that they had three seasons’ worth of ideas. Even when they outlined Nate’s journey, before they even knew that they had seasons two and three commissioned, they let me know the three-season arc. Effectively, they had those three seasons mapped out for the whole show so I can see the appeal from a creative point of view of quitting while you’re ahead in telling this three-part story. But who knows, they might just take a break and then come back. it will come to an end at some point. What I would do afterward, I don’t know. It’ll be strange.
I would love to tackle more film, love to tackle more drama because now that I’ve dipped my toe in the genre, it feels quite satisfying. It’s very interesting because whenever you’re tackling something new, it’s just so nice to learn. So that would be nice, but I don’t know. Listen, I’ll do anything. I’ll do a Marvel film. Not to say that [Marvel films] can’t be dramatic or emotional, but just the thrill of doing something completely bonkers and off the wall, on strings with a green screen, or wearing a ridiculous mask or makeup. Ted Lasso has been and still is this wonderful part of my life, so we’ll see!