Throughout its three seasons, Ted Lasso has found moments to spotlight supporting characters that make up the AFC Richmond team. As the series winds down, it’s actor Billy Harris‘ time to shine as Colin Hughes. For Harris, Ted Lasso marks his first time on a TV series that he says is “crazy” in hindsight. While Hughes has been in the background as one of the players of the team, season 3 proved to be a significant season for the character, with an especially poignant arc, as the footballer confronts his sexuality and identity head on, while also establishing a special bond with journalist Trent Crimm (James Lance).
As Hughes, Billy Harris gets the opportunity to do subtle work this season opposite his teammates, but his scenes against Kola Bokinni, who plays footballer Isaac McAdoo, truly stand out, as Colin and Isaac’s friendship is tested once it’s out that Colin is gay.
Awards Radar sat down with Billy Harris to speak about his time on Ted Lasso, Colin’s big moment, and much more.
Niki Cruz: What has it been like to be on a show that’s universally loved?
Billy Harris: When I was in season one, we were just having what felt like a lot of fun with it. I was one of the team members but didn’t necessarily have a huge role, but I was part of the team, so I got the opportunity to read the scripts and not just my scenes but Hannah Waddingham’s scenes and Jason Sudeikis’ scenes. So I started to see the way it was written and how heartfelt it was. I thought, okay, am I just loving this because I’m in it, or will the world love this as well? People were loving it as much as we did when we were making it.
NC: People found it during the height of the pandemic when they needed something that would make them feel something other than dread.
BH: Yeah, you were watching the world of Ted Lasso. People were watching it and saying, “I want to be in that world” seeing how people were treating each other.
It was such a huge moment for me to watch people on Twitter. I’ll never forget those first moments of how the show just started to grow in lockdown. It was so nice for me to be a part of something that was giving people hope because we were all in the same boat.
NC: How was that live fan response on Twitter? What is that like for you week to week?
BH: I love going on Twitter and just seeing the reactions. I’m very lucky. It may change in another job or something like that, but with Ted Lasso and the people that watch it, it really does feel like they’re with us and want the best for all the characters. The one thing I saw early on with Colin in season 2 was when there were a few references to where his storyline was going to go; fans were really excited for that storyline.
NC: The writers are brilliant, and the cast has chemistry. They feel like a team, truly. What is it like to work with your cast mates day in and day out?
BH: There are lots of cast members that have worked loads more than me, and they say the same thing, “You’ve got to hold on to this because not every set is like this.” The vibe is like what you see in the show, a bunch of guys just happy to be there. I try and get my head around why we all get along so much, but I think it’s the football aspect as well. I think that for us to be in a team… subliminally, we channel that as actors when we get together. It’s a love for each other, and respect for each other, just like a football team would do the same.
NC: And the team as a whole have memorable scenes together like clubbing and karaoke. Any highlights stick out in your mind?
BH: Yeah, karaoke! It’s funny because we were meant to be filming in Liverpool, and as a rookie actor I thought, “Brilliant we’ll get to go to Liverpool,” but it was done in a karaoke bar in London. Also, Amsterdam and how many stories burst. Those times when it’s not just about football — you really get to dig deep into the characters in those episodes, and we see other sides of them. They don’t just live and breathe their careers.
NC: When you first started on the show, did you know how the writers would flesh out Colin?
BH: No. It was mainly season 2 that we spoke about. As an actor, you always try to make your character well-rounded and give a bit more of a human three dimensional aspect. I was always looking for that with Colin because I cared about him from the get go. Once I saw in season 2 that he was going to therapy, then we had a conversation. In season 1 and season 2, you never saw the real him; he was hiding his real self. There are so many great storylines in Ted Lasso, and they’re all there, but the lens shifts [and there are] moments for other characters, and I’m so pleased fans want that as well.
NC: We don’t typically see stories about athletes who are gay unless it’s a tragic story, but Colin’s episode ends up on an uplifting note that still feels real, which is really the magic of Ted Lasso.
BH: Yeah. We’re not trying to shove anything down anyone’s throat at all. What was so nice was the way it was dealt with — it wasn’t scandalous. Colin has been able to come out exactly how he wanted to. One of the directing masterpieces is Colin; when he came out, the audience didn’t see it. It was actually for him and the team because that’s all he wanted. I think people can come out however they want to, but it should be up to them and their choice, especially when people are in the public eye.
NC: I loved the bond Isaac and Colin have with each other, and I didn’t know where it was going until that final scene, and it breaks your heart to see Isaac just wanted to be there for him.
BH: People online have said this is almost identical to how their best friend was not coping, or how they dealt with it. Isaac’s issue was, “What was it about me that made you think you couldn’t tell me?” I think it’s a very universal issue. And yeah, to have that bit at the end where they’re just simply existing and being who they are and playing video games, that was what was magical about that moment.
NC: Before I let you go, there are rumors out there about a possible spin off. Where do you stand on that? Would you be down for it?
BH: I would love to. Any spin off. For me, the main thing is I want to carry on Colin’s storyline, so of course I’d be down for it. This show has changed my life on a personal level, and it’s made me a better person.
[This interview was edited for length and clarity.]