When I first watched Anthony Head take the screen on Ted Lasso I knew something was wrong. Just in the way he carried himself, it felt off. I am not referring to his performance, it was his character Rupert Mannion the ex-husband and current rival of AFC Richmond owner (played delightfully by Hannah Waddingham). Actually, Head nails his performance. In a show packed with likable characters, he will have to settle for being the character we love to hate.
As a longtime Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, where Head played Buffy’s Watcher Rupert Giles, I was hoping for another very likable Rupert. Instead, this Rupert is a bit of a jerk. Actually, he’s more than that, but I am trying to keep this piece family-friendly – I’ll let Anthony use the stronger descriptive terms.
Over the years Head has played all types of character – bad, good, and in-between. So, playing the morally-compromised Rupert on Ted Lasso was nothing new. It is a character Head put much thought into. While on the surface he may seem black and white (leaning heavily toward the black), there is more behind Rupert as the actor had the chance to explore this season.
Anthony Head spoke with Awards Radar about his work. The video starts a bit abruptly as during our pre-interview conversation he reflected upon his work on for Buffy which extends to other work in his career including Ted Lasso. As a long time fan of his work, it was very nice to witness the pride and appreciation he has for all the incredible characters he has had the privilege to portray.
Rupert is a complex character and Anthony wanted to be fair to him, asking to change his answer to my usual ‘three words to describe’ Rupert question. Just after the camera stopped rolling, he came up with a better three words three words feel like a perfect fit for Rupert after our conversation, “fun, annoying and fascinating.”
Below are some excerpts from our conversation and the complete video interview where we talk Rupert’s chance at redemption, his time on Buffy, Rupert’s attempt to bring Nate to the dark side, his relationship with Rebecca and more. Enjoy.
On the fun about playing Rupert:
“The fun of playing Rupert is the fact that there is there are so many levels. I love the fact that they nuanced him. He was started off as this just (negative ahem). Then you see the whole thing with Nate and him being really manipulative. And then you see the whole thing with Nate and bringing other women onboard. I mean, right the first season, there was lots of pictures of him with women.’
On the other side of Rupert behind the a-hole:
“Jason (Sudeikis) told me that we were gonna see a side of him and the whole ‘super league’ in episode 10. The moment where we see him once in love with Rebecca, an emotion which may have been sociopath – they’re very good at turning on their tears. What I wanted to play was that moment where you sort of you could see in his eyes some pain, some displacement. That was actually the under core of what then happened at the football match in the end when he can’t help himself. He stormed down on pitch because he’s got all this (growls) going on. Playing that is not just playing an asshole. It’s playing someone who’s someone who just happens to be an asshole. But they don’t think they are. They think, being a narcissist, that the world revolves around them. They are the center of the world.”
On working with Hannah:
“A dream, an absolute dream. I mean, I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work with some wonderful actors, and she is extraordinary. The first time in season one, when I meet her in the office and basically say, ‘Nah, I didn’t want to have a child with you.’ She off the motion was just threw me sideways and it was beautiful. There’s always been a connection, great connection. It’s not something that you assume is going to happen – you always hope. And one is very fortunate when it does. I’m very lucky to have worked with was pretty much everybody. I mean, it’s remarkable casting and the stuff that I’ve had with Nick. They’ve been great fun, especially the scenes in the bar when I’m throwing women at him.”
Watch all three seasons of Ted Lasso now streaming exclusively on Apple TV+.