Sarah Niles on sparring with Jason Sudeikis on ‘Ted Lasso’

The Diamond Dogs are back … and they’re about to be analyzed. 

Fresh off earning a whopping 20 Emmy nominations, comedy hit “Ted Lasso” returns for its second season on AppleTV+ July 23. 

Season 1 followed Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), a golden retriever of a man who takes a job coaching a UK Premiere League soccer team, despite having no knowledge of the sport. Over the course of the season, the American wins over the cynical British team and even its scheming owner, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham). 

Season 2 shakes things up by introducing new character Sharon (Sarah Niles), a sports psychologist who’s been hired to work with the team. Her no-nonsense demeanor is at odds with Ted’s “aw shucks” charm, and her presence gives the group dynamic a jolt of energy. 

Niles has a knack for acting in acclaimed shows, since she’s also been in HBO’s “I May Destroy You” and the British comedy “Catastrophe,” in addition to a storied career on the stage, in productions such as “Cleopatra” (2014 at Stratford Upon Avon and the Public Theater New York). Here, the British actress chats with The Post about joining the celebrated show. 

Sarah Niles (left) in Ted Lasso's office with Jeremy Swift and Jason Sudeikis.
Sarah Niles (from left), Jeremy Swift and Jason Sudeikis in Season 2 of “Ted Lasso,” which premieres July 23 on AppleTV+.
Colin Hutton

Are you a lifelong Londoner?

Yes, I spent some time in Manchester and Liverpool because why not, but I’ve mostly been in London.

What’s it like to be joining a show during a time when it’s getting showered with praise? 

It’s just brilliant. I didn’t know about this show when I got asked to audition for it. Loads of my friends had already seen it but I hadn’t. Then I watched it and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is why everyone’s talking about it!’ During the filming process we kept hearing about all the nominations and awards — it was so exciting. 

What kind of atmosphere did that lend to the set? 

The energy was good from the get-go. It’s such a feel-good show and everybody was so glad to get back to filming, given everything that’s been happening in lockdown. Everyone was excited to be working — and to be working on a good project and an uplifting show.

Sarah Niles
Sarah Niles in 2018.
Dave Benett/Getty Images for Sky

Sharon is quite a serious character, was it hard not to laugh? 

In a way it was, because I’m a bit goofy, I like to have a bit of fun. But I had to rein everything in and be still and straight. 

What’s it like to be the new person joining this world — intimidating? Fun? 

It’s a bit of both, really. I had to come in and have a chat with Jason and he’s so approachable. He put me immediately at ease. Everyone was encouraging. Brendan Hunt is one where it’s hard not to laugh, he has that straight face after he delivers something, and Jason is so naughty. I love all the players, Dani Rojas [played by Cristo Fernández] — I’ve got a special place in my heart for him. And gorgeous Hannah [Waddingham] is so fiery and strong — and tall! And Juno [Temple] has got so much chutzpah.

Did you do anything in particular to prepare to play a sports psychologist? 

I watched a couple of documentaries, mostly American ones — I watched the Michael Jordan one and I find that fascinating, the ability of the mind to work to the benefit of the athlete. 

You’ve been in quite a few buzzy shows, between this and “Catastrophe” and “I May Destroy You.” 

All of them have truth to them and they’re so brave in their writing. I’m a fan of Micaela [Coel] and would always support any work she does. I was really humbled that I was able to be a part of that [show]. All of these stories shift something. They’re on the forefront of something, like change, and they’re really brave. Even though “I May Destroy You” is not a comedy like “Ted Lasso” and “Catastrophe,” they all have heart and truth.

Why do you think this show has resonated with audiences so much? 

I think mostly it came at the right time, because of the situation we were all in, politically and with the pandemic, and the unknown — just to have something that was full of heart and full of truth and positivity. What’s so wonderful is the show isn’t afraid to discuss the conflicts and struggles that people go through. You see this upbeat positive character, Ted, and later on you see him having a panic attack, you realize he’s struggling with things. I feel like there’s many sides to all the characters.

Huynh Nguyen

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