When the time came to say “So Long, Farewell” to Ted Lasso it was crucial to have the right person to lead the charge. Director Declan Lowney, who had already directed seven other episodes including the penultimate episode,“ was the right person for the job. The finale was universally praised for never losing the show spirit as it tied up numerous character storylines, sent many on new adventures and gave viewers the memorable and heartfelt goodbye they deserved.
“It was very exciting to be able to finish the show off,” said Declan who sat down to speak with Awards Radar about his work on the beloved series (watch the full interview at the end of the article). “I’m hugely honored to have been let to direct the last two episodes of this show. People love this show so much and there has been such huge interest in and love for the final episode, particularly. It was an honor to be allowed to do it. It’s probably a career highlight, I would have to say.” Many fans would agree.
While he did not learn many new lessons from the experience, “Ted Lasso reinforced a lot of things I have already believed,” explained Declan. “I’ve been in the right place at the right time, a lot in my life. But I know you also make some of your own luck.” Some of this ‘luck’ extends beyond the director and includes having the right actors to which to work.
Lowney echoed Ted Lasso casting director Theo Park who previously spoke to Awards Radar about the importance of casting the best best people for even the smallest role. “I really believe that if you cast the right actors in your show,” said Lowney “if you put together the right people that once you put them all in front of the camera, and they start saying stuff, they’ll be doing it the right way, if you’ve cast correctly.” Of course this does not let the director off the hook, there’s still plenty of work to be done, he explained. “You can then just let them do their thing, you might need to pull them in a bit, you might need to shape it a bit, but for the most part, if you’ve cast, well, let them get on with it.”
“The other thing is I came up through the ranks, I know what everybody on the set does and I appreciate and respect everybody’s input, every department’s difficulties and their contributions,” said Lowney. “I think having an understanding of all that, and being able to play with all those things you’re given, to get the best out of everybody, is an absolutely fantastic way to shoot a film or TV show.”
The results are evident in his work as seen in his three Emmy nominations, including for directing fan favorites like “Make Rebecca Great Again.” Lowney continues, “If you can have that atmosphere of inclusivity and togetherness on the set. And you’ve got your actors doing the right thing up there on the camera; it speaks volumes, and it’s all on the screen.”
One of the most pleasant surprises during the finale was when the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical number “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music was performed by the entire team. Lowney described the thought put into it before the squad could film their musical performance. “Well, we had this debate about, how good could it be? How good could the singing be? How good could the choreography be?”
A previous dance attempt in season two delivered fun though varied results, but expectations were much higher here explained Lowney. “This one was meant to be because they’ve worked really, really, really hard. The routine was quite simple, but they had worked very hard at doing it. So it was okay for them to do it very well.” Lowney continued about the cast’s dedication to making this something next level while still keeping an authentic feel. “The guys have gone into the studio and recorded the lyrics, the words, beforehand. On the day I got them all to sing live again. So each one of them was miked and each of them had an earpiece playing the backing track so they sang live again. I think in the final mix, it’s mainly the live vocals put in with some of the stuff they already recorded. It still has a kind of a roughness about it – so it wasn’t too perfect.”
What viewers did not know was the ending to the musical interlude was not always what they saw in the final version. Lowney revealed that show creator and star, Jason Sudeikis, made a decision, one that caught the true heart of the moment. “The other thing was at the very, very end I had brought in a drone. But the guys celebrated so beautifully at the end of it that we got rid of the drone shot, and Jason recut it. It’s brilliant,” explained Lowney. “The guys were just going batshit crazy pulling off the tops and going crazy. Ted loved what they had done for him so much saying, ‘Guys, that’s perfect,’ and they just went crazy.” Nothing could be more authentic than that.
“I love that celebratory moment. That celebration, that outpouring was real – they were so excited to do it for him, because he literally hadn’t seen it prior. We’d rehearsed it separately so he hadn’t seen it when they came to do it for them.”
While fans were enthusiastic about finale it also created plenty of online debate as to whether what they just watched was all Ted’s dream (many were reminded of the infamous game changing 1980s St. Elsewhere snow globe finale.) While Lowney believes those theories are all just “fan fiction,” he is open to the idea of more Ted Lasso in the future. “Jason always said it was three seasons, he’s wrapped everybody’s stories up very nicely. But there’s a whole bunch of things aren’t there that have been set up in the last montage in the last few minutes that are potential spin offs.”
“I think the most exciting one was Keeley’s (Juno Temple) pitch to Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) to create a Richmond women’s football team,” he expounded. “We’ve seen captain Roy (Brett Goldstein) take over and we’ve seen Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) get married and stay in England probably. So there’s potential there for spin offs. And then you’ve got Ted coaching a football league back in Kansas, so there is a potential spin off there. If they want to do more, I’d be well up for it. But I don’t think that’s gonna happen for a while.”
It seems Lowney, like many involved with the series, are proud of what they gave viewers over three seasons and are ready to say ‘so long, farewell’… for now. “There’s something about that look into camera Ted does at the end. He’s watching his son (Henry) run off and then he just brings his gaze, looks straight down the lens as if to say, ‘That’s it, folks. Thanks for coming on the journey with us.’
Watch my all three season of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+ and my full interview with Declan Lowney below:
Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity and length.