It’s almost time to “BELIEVE” again. Ted Lasso returns to Apple TV+ for its third season premiere on March 15, with Jason Sudeikis reprising his role as the titular head coach whose optimistic leadership leads the AFC Richmond soccer club to unexpected success.
Ted Lasso the character has been so inspiring to viewers that the Utah Jazz head coach has called his leadership style “required viewing” for all coaches. Lasso’s kind personality and empathetic coaching philosophy isn’t entirely fictional, either.
Sudeikis has said that Ted Lasso is based on elements of multiple people, including Sudeikis’ father, his high school basketball coach, and several real-life coaches. Among them are soccer managers Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, and basketball coaches John Wooden, Bill Self, and Steve Kerr.
Inspirations from Sudeikis’ Life
Ted Lasso gets his distinctive look and talkative personality from Sudeikis’ father, Daniel Joseph Sudeikis. “That’s where the mustache comes from and him being real loquacious,” Jason Sudeikis told the Today show.
But the single biggest influence on Ted Lasso was Sudeikis’ high school basketball coach, Donnie Campbell. Like Lasso, Campbell has Kansas roots, a midwestern accent, and a friendly personality. He also regularly speaks in catchphrases, and some of Lasso’s memorable axioms came directly from Campbell’s mouth.
“He was a fella from a small town in Kansas who spoke in those aphorisms, like, ‘Sudeikis, you look more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs,’” Sudeikis told Today, adding that Campbell may have been surprised to learn that Sudeikis paid enough attention to him as a student to use his lessons in Ted Lasso.
“I did not do a lick of homework,” Sudeikis said. “I didn’t play a lick of defense. I was a good listener, but I didn’t listen in the moment. I just stored it all up, and now [I’m] using it, typing it out, and then just memorizing and saying it to folks.”
John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success”
Campbell also instilled into Sudeikis a long-standing respect for legendary college basketball coach John Wooden. Sudeikis so admired him that he even used Wooden’s philosophies in his early improvisation comedy and while teaching improv to other actors.
Sudeikis carried around a small Wooden quote book and regularly shared Wooden’s famous “Pyramid of Success” technique with others, including Ted Lasso co-star and co-creator Brendan Hunt. The Pyramid—which outlines Wooden’s philosophical building blocks for success at both basketball and life—hangs in Ted Lasso’s office, and the fictional coach regularly espouses Wooden’s lessons.
“I’d bring in laminated poster [of the Pyramid of Success] like a freaking PE teacher and with a dry-erase marker and just kind of go through why this matters,” Sudeikis told The Athletic.
Other Coaches and Karaoke
Wooden isn’t the only coach to influence Ted Lasso. Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp took his club out to karaoke as a team-building exercise in 2018, and the incident directly inspired Sudeikis to write a memorable episode in which Ted Lasso does the same. Upon learning this, Klopp excitedly declared: “Ted Lasso mentioned me. … That’s better than getting the trophy for best manager. Unbelievable.”
Sudeikis has said Ted Lasso’s voice is partially inspired by the Oklahoma accent of University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self. Other influences Sudeikis has cited include soccer manager Pep Guardiola, who is mentioned frequently on the show, and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.
In one episode, Lasso answers a question by saying, “Yes sir, Steve Kerr.” When asked how his name made it into the show, Kerr pointed out that his son, Matthew Kerr, worked as a writers’ assistant on the series.
Real-Life Influences for Other Characters
Ted Lasso isn’t the show’s only character influenced by real people. Roy Kent, the hotheaded footballer played by Brett Goldstein, is largely inspired by Manchester United player Roy Keane, and the fictional player Declan Cockburn gets his last name from family members of actor and filmmaker Olivia Wilde, Sudeikis’ ex-girlfriend.
Sam Obisanya, the loveable soccer player on Ted Lasso’s team played by actor Toheeb Jimoh, was named after comedian Sam Richardson, who is likewise known for his pleasant demeanor. Richardson later guest-starred on Ted Lasso as a tech billionaire who wanted to buy Obisanya’s contract.
“What a weird full circle then in Season 2 to get to go and be on the show and play across from Toheeb,” Richardson told Variety. “I’m playing across from a character that’s inspired by me as a person.”
How to Watch Ted Lasso Season 3
Ted Lasso season 3 streams on Apple TV+ starting March 15. New episodes will release on Wednesdays through May 31.
Colin McEvoy joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy. He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories.