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Interview: Cristo Fernández on Dani Rojas’ Journey in ‘Ted Lasso’

Although it might be easy to focus on the main drama surrounding Ted Lasso’s (Jason Sudeikis) life, let’s not forget that what makes the series truly charming is the spark found within its supporting characters. One of the best supporting characters the Apple TV+ Original has to offer is Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández), the energetic player who came to AFC Richmond all the way from Mexico.

Awards Radar had the opportunity of speaking to Fernández (completely in Spanish and translated for publication), where he discussed the journey of the character througout the series so far. He also even teased what he would like to see from Dani’s future, regardless if this is would be the final season of Ted Lasso or not.

Awards Radar: You had previously mentioned that Cristo is a fan of Las Chivas (one of Mexico’s biggest soccer clubs). Do you have a backstory that you have created for your character?

Cristo Fernández: I grew up watching Las Chivas when I was a boy, since I’m from Guadalajara. I’ve always loved soccer. Some friends of mine support Atlas, and I also did for a while. I used to play when I was younger, and Las Chivas was always the team I liked the most. But coming back to the character, Dani mentions during the first season that he used to play for Los Tigres.

I’d like to think that Dani played for Chivas at one point, before moving on to Tigres. Maybe he made his debut there and then he went to Europe, ending up at AFC Richmond.

AR: Perfect! To me, it’s canon! Your enthusiasm as Dani Rojas can be felt from across the screen. Is your energy contagious on set?

CF: I’d like to think so! I’ve learned a lot from Dani’s good vibes, and how positive he is. I try to carry that with me every day. The same energy required for a more serious role could be the same energy needed for a joyous one. We’re all working on set, and we’re all trying to have a good time together. And everyone is really fun, too. I get along with everybody. I also think this energy between us all is what makes the show work so well. And I hope it shows on the screen.

AR: Remember when Dani hit Earl with the ball and killed him? How did you react when the writers pitched that idea to you? Do you have any pets of your own that you thought of?

CF: I laughed a lot when I read it, but then I thought that I shouldn’t. Poor dog. Not a single animal was hurt during the making of those scenes. I’d like to make that very clear. It was shot on a green screen. I’ve had dogs my whole life. Imagine if I had done something to them, that would make me son angry and sad. That’s why Dani felt so sad and had his existential crisis. For something in your life to be right, you need to have good mental health. It was a dark start for the second season.

AR: Yes! He has his “R.I.P. Earl” sneakers later on.

CF: Yes! For those watching the third season, look out for Dani’s shoes!

AR: Why would you say good mental health is important for high level athletes, specifically? Like the ones seen in the show.

CF: It’s extremely important as an athlete, as a person and as a human being. We all live similar things in this world, simlar anxieties, identity crisis issues and problems. In Mexico, I think there’s been some progress regarding that subject, but there’s still a lot of prejudice when it comes to going to therapy. It’s just like going to the gym, it’s about taking care of your health.

I’m aware that my life might’ve changed when I used to play soccer. I went through some times when having someone to talk to would’ve made a big difference. Anyways, things happen for a reason and my dreams of being a soccer player and an actor are coming true. I’m doing what I love and I’d like to thank God, my friends and my family.

Courtesy of Apple TV+

AR: How has your life changed with the impact of Ted Lasso? How do you share it with your friends and family from Guadalajara?

CF: Every time I go to Guadalajara is like a refill of positive energy for me. I’m very connected with my close friends and family and we’ve been the same kids who used to play soccer on the streets when we were little. I also keep in touch with my friends from college, where I studied communications. That’s where I started, making short films and my dream is to bring opportunities to Guadalajara.

It’s not about just going abroad and creating ooportunities for ourselves there. That’s what I’ll try to change, just as Guillermo Del Toro has brought so many opportunities to our country. He’s on another level, obviously, but I’ll try to also set an example. And this has all kept me grounded, I have my own production company, Espectro MX Films, We’re working on some projects in Guadalajara and even if Ted Lasso and Dani Rojas have been a big part of my life, I also want to open doors for other people. There’s a lot of talent in Guadalajara, and Mexico, in general.

AR: What would you like to see from Dani’s future. Regardless if this is the final season of the show or not.

CF: What is certain is that we’re closing a three-season-arc. I don’t even know if there will be a fourth season. If you ask me, I’d absolutely love to see more, but it’s not up to me. But I am preparing for whatever outcome we might face. Going back to Dani, I’d like to see more of his backstory. He’s always mentioning random interesting facts, like his best friend being 108 years old, or his mom saying that he was born with caffeine in his system.

There are always little things about him. I’ve loved portraying a Mexican person, a Latin person in a non-stereotypical way. Dani is not a drug dealer, or a criminal. Look at you and me, look where we’re at and how we met! That’s who our people are, enthusiastic and happy! I’d love to see how Dani ended up in Europe.

AR: Do you think Dani would get along with Rebecca Welton? Which character would you like to see interact with Dani a little bit more?

CF: Rebecca and Dani do get along! Even if they haven’t shared many scenes together, that takes me back to the moment at her father’s funeral, where they exchanged shoes so that Dani could be more comfortable. That was the only way he could get through the day. So I do think they get along.

Also, I’d love for Dani to share more scenes with Roy Kent. I want Dani to tell Roys that they’re twins, just to see the reaction.

AR: One final question for you: Is football life?

CF: To me, it is. I played a lot when I was a kid, and when I grew up, I kept playing. Even if drifted away from it, I always returned to the sport because I love it so much! That’s why football is life! Also, because life is like a match, in the way that you sometimes win, or lose, but there’s always a chance to improve.


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Written by Diego Peralta

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