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CNN Live Event/Special

Sudeikis: "Ted Lasso" Is About Teamwork, Empathy, Listening To Others; Jason Sudeikis On The Evolution Of Villains In "Ted Lasso"; Sudeikis: My "Ted Lasso" Character Was Inspired By My Parents. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 24, 2023 - 21:00   ET





EVA LONGORIA, HOST, "EVA LONGORIA: SEARCHING FOR MEXICO": Now, of course, I sampled Mezcal. Yes, I did. There was a whole Mezcal story, we do, in Wahaka, and it was a - that was a tough week, for me.


LONGORIA: I was like "I need a detox after this!"

COOPER: It's such a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much for being with us.

LONGORIA: Good to see you. You have to come to Mexico City, and I'll take you to some of the most--

COOPER: I would love that!

LONGORIA: --amazing places.

COOPER: I would love that!


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The CNN Original Series, "EVA LONGORIA: SEARCHING FOR MEXICO" premieres Sunday at 10 PM Eastern, and Pacific, right here on CNN.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME (voice-over): Mr. Lasso goes to Washington! As the Emmy Award-winning comedy series enters its third season.

TED LASSO, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY JASON SUDEIKIS, "TED LASSO": Ted Lasso Welcome Wagon has arrived! TAPPER (voice-over): Tonight, I sit down with "Ted Lasso" himself, Jason Sudeikis.

JASON SUDEIKIS, "TED LASSO" STAR: I think we all have Ted Lasso in us.

TAPPER (voice-over): To discuss his White House visit.

SUDEIKIS: We shouldn't be afraid to ask for help ourselves.

TAPPER (voice-over): The surprising origins, of his beloved character.

SUDEIKIS: An ad company comes to me, and says, "Hey, we have this commercial, we want to do."

TAPPER (voice-over): His career, in comedy.

SUDEIKIS: It's a gift to get to work somewhere like Saturday Night Live.

TAPPER (voice-over): And his Kansas City roots.

SUDEIKIS: Everything goes through there.

TAPPER (voice-over): So grab your biscuits.

T. LASSO: I'm glad you like them.

TAPPER (voice-over): Your AFC Richmond jersey.


TAPPER (voice-over): And get ready to believe!



TAPPER: I'm Jake Tapper, in Washington, where tonight, we're going one-on-one, with comedian and actor, Jason Sudeikis, in a CNN PRIMETIME Special, THE TED LASSO PHENOMENON.

The show's now in its third season, boasting 11 Emmys, setting new viewership records, and bringing a level of success that got Sudeikis, and his castmates, invited to the White House.

I sat down, with Sudeikis, for a wide-ranging conversation, at Audi Field, the home of D.C. United, while he was here, in Washington, where of course, we touched on the new season, of his show, which is produced by our sister company, Warner Brothers, and is the first time, Sudeikis himself, has run the creative side, of the show.

We also talked about the importance of mental health, which is a focus of "Ted Lasso," his own meteoric career rise, from community college basketball, to Saturday Night Live, to today, and what it's like, to play Joe Biden, and then meet him, in person. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: So, first of all, thanks so much for doing this.

SUDEIKIS: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, this is the craziest thing. Like, I didn't realize, the show has only been on, for two and a half years?

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: That's nuts!


TAPPER: And you - and it was number one, Premier and Apple TV+ history. A 11 Emmys?

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: I mean, in two and a half years?

SUDEIKIS: It's been a long two and a half years, though, for everyone. That's the trick. And, by hook or crook, and good fortune, that treadmill has not ceased for me, just through the writing process and editing process, yes, so. And not just myself, but like, my friends, Brendan and Joe, like we've been in soup to nuts, so. So, yes, it's been a lot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oy, mate. This you?

T. LASSO: I believe it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, legend! Can I get an ussie?


TAPPER: Do you think - well you talk about how that two and a half years, it's been a very long, two and a half years, for the entire, literally the entire world?

SUDEIKIS: Literally, yes.

TAPPER: Do you think that the fact that that premiered in August 2020, right, in the thick of COVID, is one of the reasons people connected to it so much, so quickly?

SUDEIKIS: I think it was one of the reasons they had the opportunity to. And I - but there are things and themes in that show, in our show that were percolating, well before we all had to sit and really kind of take a look at it all, and feel it, within ourselves, and within our own homes, and within our, like vessels, as human beings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) T. LASSO: Most of the time, change is a good thing. Now, I think that's what it's all about


SUDEIKIS: And I've said it before, like, I hate to think we, commodified that chaos. But if we provide a little bit of, like, sanctuary or like hope? That was unintentional.

I would have much rather, kids could have gone to school, parents could have gone, on date nights, people still go see plays, and sporting events. But yes, if we gave them the opportunity, to like, sit at home and find something, together, then happy to oblige.

TAPPER: But not just the fact that we're all at home.


TAPPER: The, I mean, 2020, in addition to COVID, like, it was a very nasty political year.


TAPPER: And there was all sorts of - it was just it was very difficult.


TAPPER: And your show represents something. You know what I mean?

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: When you talk about a refuge, it's not just a refuge. It's a - so, I remember one time. So, your folks are very nice. They send us biscuits, and they send us shirts and mugs, and everything.

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes, yes.



T. LASSO: Right? Go ahead, take a nibble.


TAPPER: So, we have a "Believe" sign in the office?


TAPPER: And one time, I just saw one of my producers, just like touch the sign, like Ted Lasso, not knowing I was - I could see her, just touched the sign.

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes, yes, yes. TAPPER: And she was having a tough day, and like that helped.

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: And you must hear stories like that all the time?

SUDEIKIS: All the time, all the time. I mean, I've read stories, people come up to any of us that are on camera that they recognize, and connect to the show.


T. LASSO: I believe in hope. I believe in belief.



SUDEIKIS: And they meet us with themes of the show that we didn't have written on our writers' room, but they were just in the way we attacked the writing, or the jokes, or the way the characters would interact with each other.


T. LASSO: Do you believe in miracles? And if you do, then I want you all to circle up with me right now. Come on! Let's go!



SUDEIKIS: And it's all a lot of it rooted in the, like, the improv mantra of "Yes, and," saying yes, to someone, and supporting it, versus trying to tear them down.

And, like the etymology of the word, sarcasm, is about tearing flesh, and we just didn't want to - sarcasm just didn't, we didn't want to play. I mean, there's still moments of it in the show, but we call it out a lot of times, when it exists.


T. LASSO: And that's not OK.

NATHAN "NATE" SHELLEY, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY NICK MOHAMMED, "TED LASSO": Oh, he means the opposite. I love it when Coach does sarcasm.


SUDEIKIS: It's been a rough time for anyone that kind of feels things.

And I was fortunate enough to play, the character John Keating, in Dead Poets Society, on this off-Broadway production. It's a daunting task to play anything that Robin Williams did, but to play a character that is talking about seize the day, and all this lovely stuff, and how important words are, and ideas, in a time when people were literally having a picketing, in Union Square, just you - we could hear them, if we opened up the stage door, you could hear people.

And then, we performed, on Election Night 2016.

And, regardless of where you stand, you know, as a human being, you wouldn't be proud of necessarily watching your kids, fight like that on the playground. So it, yes, we're surrounded by it. And we weren't doing in reaction to it so much as just, I don't know, like, what if?


T. LASSO: Come on, just shake this hand.


SUDEIKIS: What if you did sort of lean in on each other, and allowed space, and understand that sometimes people are angry, but not necessarily angry at you, but angry about something else? And what if you listened to it? And what if you understood and empathized, and all the while trying to make people laugh, while doing it?

But just the thing I learned at Second City is like, what's it about, besides what it's about?

TAPPER: And what is it about? What is Ted Lasso about, if you had to explain to somebody?

SUDEIKIS: Well, the way my son is, I've heard him explain to people is, it's, "My dad plays an American football coach, who coaches a professional soccer team, in London, and they say the F-word a lot."


ROY KENT, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY BRETT GOLDSTEIN, "TED LASSO": I don't wanna be a (bleep) football pundit, sat on (bleep) telly in a dumb (bleep) suit like a know-it-all twat.


TAPPER: OK. That's accurate.

SUDEIKIS: That led to a guy on this toy store (ph).

TAPPER: That's accurate.

SUDEIKIS: It's accurate. And the guy was like, "Oh, I'm going to check that out!" Yes.

TAPPER: It's a good pitch!

SUDEIKIS: It's a good pitch! TAPPER: It's a good pitch! But it's--

SUDEIKIS: I mean, I don't know--

TAPPER: But it's about a little bit - no offense to your boy.

SUDEIKIS: No, no, no. None taken.

TAPPER: It's about a little bit more than that.

SUDEIKIS: I agree. Yes, I agree. No, I gave him notes.

TAPPER: Does he take them?


TAPPER: Just like his dad?


TAPPER: So, but do you - what do you think it's about? Do you think it's about kindness?

SUDEIKIS: I think it's about teamwork. I think it's about - I think it's about empathy. I think it's about listening. I really do.

It's about how we're all a lot more similar than sometimes we're led to believe, based on news channels, we watch, or what music we listen to, on the radio, or the families that we were brought up in, whether they were helpful or hurtful, like we're all more similar than we realized.


T. LASSO: If you just figure out some way to turn that 'me' into 'us'? Sky's the limit for you.


SUDEIKIS: That's just something that I got by good fortune, as being the child of a travel agent, I got to travel young, you know? And so, that allows for space of realizing, "Oh, there's lots of different ways to view the world." And yet, we all - lot of us find Jim Carrey funny, all over the - all over the world.

A lot of people find Jimmy Stewart, heartbreaking, at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life."




SUDEIKIS: A lot of people understand why Dorothy wanted to go home. I like that notion that when the lights are out, like, it's we're all dealing with the same stuff, you know?

TAPPER: So, what's another interesting part about the show is that some of the characters that at the very beginning of season one, you think are villains?


TAPPER: And some of the ones that you think are, the underdog that you root for?


TAPPER: I'm specifically thinking of Rebecca, and Nate.


TAPPER: They transform.

And by the end of season two?




TAPPER: Rebecca is somebody, you're rooting for.


TAPPER: And Nate is somebody, who's a little bit more complicated. Maybe you're - maybe you're not rooting for him anymore.



SHELLEY: Everybody loves you. The great Ted Lasso! Well, I think you're a (bleep) joke.


TAPPER: So what's behind that?

SUDEIKIS: I mean, I think it's an attempt at trying to honor the Mark Twain quote of like, "Every person's life is a comedy, a drama and a tragedy," and I may be getting that a little bit wrong. But yes, it's, you never know what battles someone's, facing, within themselves.

And, yes, it was a little bit of a rope-a-dope. We use a - the - to have Rebecca and Jamie Tartt, I would say, to be these archetypes, early on, of like these, villain-type, and to make you sort of, like, we're conditioned to find antagonists, in entertainment, but unfortunately, in real life, too, you know? [21:10:00]

And so, yes, kind of, we wanted to give a reason why Rebecca was that way, something that - I mean I think "Major League" is a great movie. It's a great baseball movie. And yet, the show shares its DNA, by a good fortune, with "Major League" and "Bull Durham."

And at the beginning of "Major League" is Whitton wants to tank her team.


RACHEL PHELPS, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY MARGARET WHITTON, "MAJOR LEAGUE": Here's a list of the players we'll be inviting to camp.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy here is dead!

PHELPS: Cross him off, then.


SUDEIKIS: Yes, we just wanted to maybe give our version of, of why that this one wants to do that.


WELTON: See, my ex-husband truly loved only one thing his entire life: this club. And Ted Lasso is going to help me burn it to the ground.


SUDEIKIS: And you know it in the pilot, that why she wants to do it, but you don't know why, why until, you meet the person that's really kind of brought out this probably poured a lot of salt in a wound that existed well before he even had access to the shaker.

Then, we're exploring with Nate, the idea of what you do, any person can overcome adversity, to truly test their character, give them power, and see what happens there.


SHELLEY: It's not like I'm some kind of "Wonder kid."


SUDEIKIS: It's also sort of dabbling in the notions of like, the intoxication of new fame, and what that does to people, especially in this day and age, when they have access to whatever they want to see, in a lot of instances.

TAPPER: You talk about Jamie Tartt. Jamie Tartt, obviously a character, who's like an archetype villain, and then you find out like he has an abusive father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES TARTT, FICTIONAL CHARACTER PLAYED BY KIERAN O'BRIEN, "TED LASSO": You just made it easier for Manchester City to kick you to the curb.


TAPPER: And that's why he is the way he is.

SUDEIKIS: That's part of the reason. And it's more importantly, how he's dealt with that abusive father, because good and evil exists in the world. There's bullies in the world, and there will always be. There always has been. It's our relationship to that good and evil, and what we choose to take from, and how we choose to go with.

And so yes, we're just, typing out people's choices, and they're memorizing it and executing it so well that yes. I mean, Nick Mohammed, who plays as "Nathan," has caught so much guff online, because they fell in love with him.


SHELLEY: I am equally livid.


SHELLEY: Oh, my God!


SUDEIKIS: He fell in love with him.

But then, he also brilliantly and bravely plays the inverse of that. And I personally know - I've thanked him for diving in like that.

Same with, Anthony Head, who plays Rupert, and, Hannah, and Phil, who play Jamie, all those people, they have to play those heavy things, you know? It's a tremendous amount of trust, they put in us, the writers and creators of the show, to play an unlikable part of themselves.

TAPPER: The other thing, of course, is that Ted is somebody, who struggles. He seems very confident. He seems, like why would he even take this job? But he's got - he's - he gets a divorce.


TAPPER: He misses his son.


TAPPER: He has a panic attack.

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes.


WELTON: Try to breathe.

T. LASSO: I can't. I can't. I can't. I don't know what's going on. I'm sorry.


TAPPER: The honor at the White House?


SUDEIKIS: Getting to hear people's stories. I couldn't understand not trying to hear that because I know that allows people to feel seen.


TAPPER: Recognition of Ted Lasso as being something of an ambassador for mental health issues, is that something you could have anticipated?

SUDEIKIS: Oh, yes! No! Not at all. None of those.

We just - we were just trying to make a show that we were proud of. We wanted people that liked American football to like it, people that liked European football, or like soccer, and we wanted comedy folks to like it.

Comedians hold their comedic integrity very near and dear, and want to wield it properly. I don't know how to explain it other than it is what it always seemed to me like it was supposed to be.

And again, by being fortunate enough to have someone like Bill Lawrence see the work that Brendan, Joe and I had done, prior to working with him to say, "Oh, yes, this is a show for Apple," to be the only company that we pitched to that said, "We'll buy it." I know I personally just had an instinct of like, "Well, it's not going to be like that. It's going to be like something else."


TAPPER: Up next, how Jason Sudeikis modeled Ted Lasso, after some of the most important people, in his life, and how his upbringing led to him creating this cultural phenomenon.


SUDEIKIS: I don't want them to come after me, for lost wages. But yes. No, they're hugely influential.






T. LASSO: Coach, you want to bring this home?


T. LASSO: The Diamond Dogs have struck again!


TAPPER: Give us the history on that. It's older than 2013, those ads. It's 2003, right? You came up with the character, in "Amsterdam?"

SUDEIKIS: That's not totally true, though. The history would be, I mean, everybody played soccer, I think in the States, at least in the Midwest, like when they were really little. But then I fell out of it. I didn't pay attention.


T. LASSO: Good morning, coach!

BEARD: Good morning, coach!


SUDEIKIS: Then Brendan and I, Brendan Hunt that plays Coach Beard, on the show, we're working on "Amsterdam," and he had fallen in love, over those last couple years, being a cynic, being an American football fan. I was a dumb sport, as he - you've played 90 minutes, a zero-zero tie.

But then, he happened to live with five Dutch students. And we're working at this theater, this is an English-speaking theatre, called Boom Chicago. And so, Brendan, and I started to - I wanted to play Tony Hawk Pro Skater.

So, I asked everybody to chip in 20 guilders. I bought a PlayStation, for the green room that we'd be there at halftime, and before the shows, and after the shows.

And Brendan's like "We'll get FIFA too."

I was like, "All right, I'll get FIFA, OK."

And then, we would sit and play. We were the only two that basically played that game. And he would explain--

TAPPER: You and Brendan?

SUDEIKIS: Brendan and I.


SUDEIKIS: And he would explain to me like kind of like not just the like, basic strategy, but then also offer history, because he is much like his character, like very smart, and holds a lot of information, and does it with such enthusiasm that you can't help, but sit next to the guy, and have it rub off on you.


BEARD: They call cleats "Boots."

T. LASSO: I thought you said that the trunk of a car was a "Boot."

BEARD: Also a boot.

T. LASSO: Hold on now. If I were to get fired from my job, where I'm putting cleats in the trunk of my car?

BEARD: You got the boot from putting boots in the boot.

T. LASSO: I love that!


SUDEIKIS: I mean, the fact that I got to be on a plane, holding on my iPad, explaining the World Cup, to people, this past World Cup, as we were flying, from - we're in New York to L.A., and people were asking me questions, and I knew the answers? I was like "Brendan would be so proud about additional time!"

And so, then when it came time - so that was just in that, four or five months that we worked together there. Then, when it came time, jump all the way to 2013, and they - an ad company, called Brooklyn Brothers, comes to me and says, "Hey, we have this commercial, we want to do. We had to - here are a few ideas."


T. LASSO: This is Ted Lasso, I'm the new Head Coach of the Tottenham Hotspurs, and I'd like to talk to the Queen, please.


SUDEIKIS: And the coach idea, I liked, and I was kind of like "Well, what if we played more of a bumpkin versus a yeller and screamer, more of like a guy that I was used to from - being from Kansas?"

And they're like, "Great!"



T. LASSO: Win a lot of games, we won't get in the playoffs.


T. LASSO: There's no playoffs. Again, my job just got a lot easier. Ties and no playoffs. Why do you even do this?


SUDEIKIS: I was like, "Can I bring on a couple people?" And it was boom! Joe Kelly, Brendan Hunt. And then off we went.

And it's a little bit of the Goldilocks mythology, yes, of like, I knew nothing about soccer. Joe knew a little bit of both soccer and football. And Brendan knew a lot about soccer. So, it was like, between the three of us, the whole shtick of the commercials was doing what Brendan had done, back in 2000, was like, "What is this team?"


T. LASSO: Hey, you guys. Well, three points!


T. LASSO: No points? Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's got to go in.

T. LASSO: Come on, Rob! You got to get it in there to get three points.


TAPPER: And Ted Lasso is from Kansas?

SUDEIKIS: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes.

TAPPER: As are you?



SUDEIKIS: Nothing but homers. That's how we're doing.


TAPPER: So, I met you through this charity, you do that you run with a bunch of other famous Kansas folks.




SUDEIKIS: Yes, good folks, yes.

TAPPER: Big Slick.

SUDEIKIS: Paul Rudd, Rob Riggle.

TAPPER: Mr. Rudd, Koechner and Riggle.

SUDEIKIS: Koechner, and Eric Stonestreet.

TAPPER: Stonestreet.

SUDEIKIS: Now, Heidi Gardner, from SNL, also Kansas City. I mean, some in the water.


SUDEIKIS: I mean, it's a proud group - I mean, yes, celebrities, but also all Kansas City, and which is great.

TAPPER: Yes. So, and I know your mom, Kathy, who's great.

But Ted is decidedly from Kansas City, right, the Kansas City area?


T. LASSO: This right here is some of the best barbecue sauce in Kansas City, which makes it some of the best barbecue sauce in the world.

Oh, yes!


SUDEIKIS: Yes. I mean, we sort of left at (ph) Parts Unknown. I'm from Overland Park, which is a suburb of, and it's very confusing, to folks from the outside. It was like, "Is Kansas City in Kansas or Missouri?" I was like, "Both."

TAPPER: Right.

SUDEIKIS: And that confuses the hell out of them. But--

TAPPER: But Overland Park's Kansas?

SUDEIKIS: Overland Park's a 100 percent, Kansas, yes.


SUDEIKIS: And I went to school, and played basketball, in Community College, in Southeast Kansas. You got to travel all over that big wide state.

TAPPER: But that's an important part of who you are.

SUDEIKIS: I think so, yes. Yes.

TAPPER: And what is it about being from Kansas that defines you do you think?

SUDEIKIS: Boy, oh, boy. I mean, it probably starts first and foremost at home, with my folks. I mean, they're - the character, Ted Lasso, is as a lot of my dad, and it's like the best parts of my dad, and the parts of my dad that I didn't necessarily, were put, directly, towards me.


T. LASSO: Hey, buddy!


T. LASSO: Oh, you got it. Ooh! Two spins. Ha-ha! How about that?


SUDEIKIS: My father didn't know his father. And so, I think my dad didn't necessarily know how to be a dad, especially towards a son. And so, Ted has that same situation going on his life, although he got them a lot longer, than my father did.


T. LASSO: If they were curious, they would ask questions. You know? Questions like, "Have you played a lot of darts, Ted?"



T. LASSO: Which I would have answered, "Yes, sir. Every Sunday afternoon at a sports bar with my father, from age 10 till I was 16, when he passed away."

Barbecue sauce!



SUDEIKIS: And so, when I see the way people speak about my folks, when I see the way my folks speak about other people, even when they're not around, especially when they're not around? They don't talk shit.

They like they - my dad always allowed for space. And he didn't do it, I don't think, consciously. I think it was just innate to who he is. And he's just a kind, loquacious and for many of my youthful years, mustachioed, fella from - then they're both from Chicago, everything goes through there, you know, like?

And I played sports. My sisters sang and dance. So, I got to meet people from all different backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, blue, red, black, white, male, female, everything in between, it allowed me like the macro view that, again, I mentioned earlier, that we're all more similar than we are alike, you know?


SUDEIKIS: Or that we are different, excuse me. And then, just all those little touches, throughout, are all part of the show, like, and it's not just me being charged as like, the curator of things, with being a co-creator, and like, the guy that plays "Ted Lasso" on the show called "Ted Lasso." I see it as an amalgamation of like, this giant snowball of life.


T. LASSO: You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It's a goldfish. You know why?


T. LASSO: It's got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish, Sam!


SUDEIKIS: And just this, these are the things that I've collected, some leaves, some stones, a couple Band-Aids, what have you. But also a few golden nuggets there that I don't necessarily think I created by certainly, was, if I was anything, I was smart enough to hold on to, or dumb enough to not let go of.

TAPPER: Well it sounds like your dad's a big part of the--

SUDEIKIS: 100 percent, yes.


SUDEIKIS: And my mom. I mean, they're both like, they're just - I was very lucky. You have no control over that. I don't think they should be in the Writers Guild. I don't want them to come after me, for lost wages. But yes. No, they're hugely influential.



TAPPER: Coming up, Jason Sudeikis reveals his biggest influences, why his first gig, at SNL, wasn't the job he really wanted, and what led him to comedy, in the first place.


SUDEIKIS: I got out of a lot of demerits by talking my way out of it or making the teacher laugh.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to be able to use your wit slot and your physical ability (ph).



TAPPER: Lot of people might not know this. But your uncle, your mom's brother?


TAPPER: Was in the business before you were.


TAPPER: So, you're born in '75. And so, the 80s, one of the biggest shows, on television, is a little show called "Cheers," a sitcom.







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing, Norm?

PETERSON: Cut the small talk and give me a beer.



TAPPER: And "Norm Peterson," played by George Wendt, your uncle?


TAPPER: So, you're growing up, and Uncle George is on TV?


TAPPER: And killing it, every week?

SUDEIKIS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: How much did that influence you to go into comedy?

SUDEIKIS: Probably more than I realized. But even prior to him, and alongside him? Being the older brother, having two younger sisters, I think I look towards comedy, or movies and television, as like older siblings, you know?

So, as much as I was, really raised by Dan Sudeikis and Kathy Sudeikis, and got, I had a bunch of uncles, bunch of aunts, and they're all remarkable, truly, like it - like there's not a turd in the bunch.

But I was also raised by Tom Hanks, and Gene Hackman, and Robin Williams, and Michael Keaton, and Bugs Bunny, and Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy, and all these guys.

I remember, vividly going to see "Beverly Hills Cop," as a 9-year-old boy, with my father, because my father loved when a good guy, especially a smartass, someone who's great at their jobs, people that spoke truth to power and did it with like, you know, it made people laugh.

TAPPER: So when did you decide, I'm going to do this?

SUDEIKIS: When I moved to Chicago, like -- you know, I played basketball all throughout, you know, up until the community college, and then I quit. I got red shirt at a community college, which is tough to do. It wasn't thrilling me the way it used to, but I was doing this thing called comedy sports.

So my transition from sports to comedy was this improv show in Kansas City called comedy sports, which is basically whose line is it anyway? You know, and we place short form games and whatnot, and I had a knack for it.

And again, not wanting to be a child actor. I was always around funny friends. I always gravitate towards people that made me laugh. I love making other people laugh. I got out of a lot of, you know, demerits or jugs as they call them at my Jesuit high school by talking my way out of it or making the teacher laugh and much like Ferris Bueller or Bugs Bunny or, you know, Axel Foley again.

And I just -- at that point, it was counting. Okay, I want to do this. But then I had this really amazing opportunity.

I did this comedy festival in Ireland, and it was with all the second city alumni. But then they had someone drop out to do these small improv shows in the back of these pubs, and they asked me if I wanted to do it, and George had seen and Bernadette had seen me perform. And people are kind of like and George would be like, no, I think he could do it.

And then they started playing short form improv games, which I had all these years of experience. You know, they didn't say go west. They would just go to Chicago, was never go to L.A., go to New York, like, go get like, get the biz.

It was never that and George never pushed that. All he did was really unknowingly to me, at that point, was when I dropped out of college, I was living in my parents' basement, and I was like, right in the silly newsletter that I'd send to friends at actual colleges, when my mom and dad were nervous, especially my mom, George be like, no, no, he's -- if he -- if he keeps loving it, like he can do something with this.


SUDEIKIS: You understand that fighting is fighting (ph). You need to be able to use your wits more than your physical --


TAPPER: And then you did improv at Second City.

SUDEIKIS: Then I got to, yeah. And Improv Olympic and the Annoyance theater, moved to Chicago. Yes. So, that was May of '97. I'm in Chicago in September '97, like I was like -- I was like, okay, all right, live with my grandmother in South Side, and then just little goals at a time.

Never having this big idea. Never, never thinking, and it's -- and it's in similar to the themes of the show, that that mentoring -- it need not always come from your mentors.


SUDEIKIS: For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It's about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field, and it ain't always easy trip, but neither is growing up without someone believing in you.


SUDEIKIS: Sometimes it's just a person who sees something in you that your baggage disallows is a phrase that came to me a long time ago. Not that, you know, like, you know, some wordsmith, but it allowed me to explain this thing that kept happening to me in my life.

I just wanted to, like do these little things and my heroes were very close. They weren't too far off. Not as far off as they were when I was a kid and again probably thinking about it now, having my Uncle George as one of those people who was connected and was one of those people probably made it seem more realistic than most kids have when they when they grow up.



TAPPER: Coming up, Jason Sudeikis talks about his own mental health and why he thinks it's so important to speak about these issues publicly.


SUDEIKIS: You know, and I think any of us can feel that way. We don't want to burden our stuff with other people because I don't think we're worthy of it. We don't think they want to hear it, and I still struggle with it.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you beat me? You seem so happy, so carefree. So what's the word I'm looking for?


Yeah, partner. Well, you know where I'm from. We're still VP, you know? Easiest gig in the world. We're like America's wacky neighbor, you know? Pop in with an ice cream cone, some aviator shades , just finger guns.

At the end of the day, we're both Joe freaking Biden.



TAPPER: So then in '03, you started "SNL", but you start as a writer.


TAPPER: And you're not on air until '05, I think.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, that's correct. Yeah.

I mean, I get to do little things in the monologues here and there, and play extras in different sketches, which was -- which was flattering. But, yeah, I mean, full on imposter syndrome.

Heroes of mine had been, you know, not hired or let go from that job. I didn't think it was going to last very long. I didn't unpack my boxes. I lived at 46th Street. So I could get there and then you know, as I was ready to hop on a plane the second they were like, yeah, we messed up. I knew it, you know?

TAPPER: Did you -- did you think that you were going to be able to be on the cast? Were you bummed that you didn't get it?

SUDEIKIS: Oh, yeah, I was bummed. I mean, there were plenty of times I called my manager, who was still my manager now, and I call him, I go -- I don't -- I don't think I'm doing this right.

And he's just like, no, you're actually in showbiz now. You know, not that I don't think, you know, the Second City or, you know, that is show business. But I knew what he meant.

Really just -- it wasn't something that I thought I had a knack for because I had spent, you know, the years prior really kind of developing learning my own voice. And so, here, I have been charged and being paid for it and at high breakneck pace of writing for other people. But what I loved more than anything was the rewrite table like getting to like --


SUDEIKIS: -- try on a Fred Armisen character, a Maya Rudolph character and then portraying it at the table and then having someone like Tina, you know, or Dennis McNicholas, sort of, yeah, what's that? What do you say? We'll use that joke and then put that in.

You can't help it, that feels like, it puts a little -- a little currency, drops a quarter or two in the, you know, the artist jackpot or, you know, a slot machine and you kind of like, okay, we'll see what -- see what else we got. Yeah, and just kept little by little.

But you know, I was disappointed, though. Even though it's an incredible job, it felt a little bit like winning a gold medal in the court that you don't train as much for it.


SUDEIKIS: You know?

TAPPER: You wanted to be on camera.


TAPPER: You want to be on stage.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, because that's what I knew.

TAPPER: Right.

SUDEIKIS: But it didn't feel like from a prideful place or but -- but maybe that stuff I haven't unlocked yet.


I mean, there must be something to that.

But, yeah, I just wanted to do a -- do a good job. I wanted to do, you know, at any point try to reach my full potential, even if I -- even if I'm crazy and how much I think it is or silly and how little I think it is.


SUDEIKIS: Oh, and live from New York, it's Saturday night!


TAPPER: In my view, you have done the best Joe Biden that "SNL" has ever done.

SUDEIKIS: It's not a competition Jake.

TAPPER: For me --

SUDEIKIS: It's art. It's art.

TAPPER: For me. For me --

SUDEIKIS: That's more of a dickhead thing to say to anything. Sketch comedy is an art. Yeah, but I appreciate that.

TAPPER: But it was also a different era of Biden, as you acknowledged --

SUDEIKIS: Sure, yeah.

TAPPER: -- when you did that skit, not long ago.

Is it weird meeting people that you've made fun of?

SUDEIKIS: See, I never thought I was making fun of him. I've never -- I don't think I've played anyone that I made fun of.


SUDEIKIS: With all due respect, this is a bunch of malarkey.


SUDEIKIS: I don't think I can.

TAPPER: You're channeling him, channeling a common --

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, but I'm playing my dad with like fake teeth. And you know, they give me -- they give me a nice big choppers. I got these, you know, little tiny teeth, you know?

But I'm always playing a version of myself. Again, I'm not trying to fool anybody. I'm not trying to prank phone calls and get people in trouble, you know?

Like I met him, you know, and it was great. He was gracious, you know, and you know, as advertised, you know what I mean? It's a gift to get to work somewhere like "Saturday Night Live". It's a form of superpower to be able to impersonate or empathize, you know, physically and vocally, you know, and into someone. However, you want to put it -- channel someone, if you will.

I'd prefer, you know, to use it -- to celebrate what I like about them versus the other way. So I've been asked to do things -- I remember, honestly (ph), I can't think anybody at the top of my head that I just didn't have a connection to.

I didn't want to -- it feels -- it feels mean. It felt mean-spirited. And I've already been, you know, born into a vessel that's afforded a great deal of privilege. And I didn't want to like, you know, use that in a -- in a negative way.

TAPPER: It's not a pejorative imitation. You know, it's the Camaro waxing gaffe machine.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, yeah.

TAPPER: Joe Biden of like, 15 years ago.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, yeah.

TAPPER: Not the guy we got now.


SUDEIKIS: I'm you from eight years ago, man. The ghost, the Biden past, boom!


SUDEIKIS: Yeah, when you leave the boss, he can't like that stuff -- that stuff has repercussions on a global scale, if not the Nasdaq. So like --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden, you look different.


SUDEIKIS: I mean, the other people have played it since me. I think it's been like Mulaney, Woody Harrelson and Jim Carrey, like all like great guys and all, like incredible artists within their own. So they're, like, lose the gig or whatever, you know? It's like no, no, like that's -- that's -- yeah, it was. It was never mind to begin with, you know?

Like I only got it because I happen to be -- I remember Fred Armisen calling me in 2008 when Obama had selected, you know, President Biden as his running mate. Fred called me and go, hey, congrats. I was like, why? What happen?

He goes, Biden got picked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden and Chris Dodd.


SUDEIKIS: I go, so what? He goes, you played him in that Halloween sketch. Remember when Obama came? I was like, oh, yeah.

TAPPER: Oh, that's funny.

SUDEIKIS: It was -- so it wasn't like, you -- it just sort of --

TAPPER: It wasn't like Tina to Sarah Palin. It wasn't like this automatic. We have to do this.


TAPPER: It was already been --

SUDEIKIS: I've already done -- they'd already fitted me for the wig.


TAPPER: That was great.

SUDEIKIS: Not bad -- not bad thing to fall into.

And then, yeah. Then they get to play against Tina's Sarah Palin in the -- in the 2008 election sketches.



SUDEIKIS: Of course.

FEY: OK, because I practiced a couple zingers where I call you, Jill.

SUDEIKIS: OK, great.


SUDEIKIS: And then I just got to like, you know, ducking, you know, bob and weave throughout and all that.

But it's been fun to play elements of him. I mean, you know, be able to play Joe Biden and Mitt Romney and like in the same political season.


SUDEIKIS: Darn it all to heck.


SUDEIKIS: You know, that's range.



TAPPER: Coming up, the upsides and downsides of global success. Jason Sudeikis shares what it's like going from an "SNL" writer to having your mustache recognized around the world.


SUDEIKIS: You know? Puff Daddy was on the some inmates about mo money, mo problems.




TAPPER: If there's one touchstone from Ted Lasso that has resonated with fans around the world, it's this simple yellow sign that says, believe. Coach Lasso used this little piece of paper to inspire a struggling team on the show, and this piece of paper has now appeared in offices, in hospitals, classrooms, and homes around the world to remind us all that it's not whether we're ever going to face adversity. It's how we deal with it.


TAPPER: Since I've known you, you've always been very in touch with your humanity. You've always been very in touch with, like -- and acknowledging of insecurities, imposter syndrome. I mean, you talked very openly about it.


TAPPER: And it's such a part of the DNA of Ted Lasso.


TAPPER: Why? Like what does that come from?

SUDEIKIS: I -- I think, again, this innate sense that we're all more similar than sometimes we're allowed to feel or want to feel.


SUDEIKIS: There is something worse out there than being sad, and that is being alone and being sad. Ain't nobody in this room alone.


SUDEIKIS: And I don't think I was always that way. Or maybe I was, but I would only share it with a few people, sometimes maybe people I didn't know that well. But I also didn't want to burden folks with it, you know?

And I think any of us can feel that way. We don't want to burden our stuff. With other people because we don't think we're worthy of it. We don't think they want to hear it, and I still struggle with it.

I struggle with it all the time about like, how much do I want to give into the things I'm going through or believe? And how much do I want to offer that up to someone? Not that I think it will be exploited, although, you know, I wouldn't make the argument that maybe it has, but, I just think it makes -- it makes living feel more lively.


SUDEIKIS: You know? Like it's -- yeah, comedy, drama and tragedy. I mean, Mark Twain, Sammy Klemms (ph), he said it first.

TAPPER: Sammy Klemms.

Do you -- did it -- I mean, you went from being famous and successful to being wildly famous and successful?

SUDEIKIS: Sure, yeah.

TAPPER: I mean --

SUDEIKIS: Yeah. TAPPER: 2019 before Ted Lasso.



TAPPER: You know, you're a film star. You're successful. You had a great life, et cetera. But now -- I mean, this is a worldwide phenomenon, Ted Lasso.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, yeah, I've clocked that now. Yeah, I mean, again came up during a time when we were wearing masks a lot or were quarantined. So it was a slow roll.

TAPPER: Easier to walk through the streets.

SUDEIKIS: A hundred percent, yeah. I mean, that mustache, you know, like that is conspicuous as all hell. You know, I said, I'd like to go back in a time machine, go to the seventies, no one would notice me, right?

You know, but like in this modern time, we all clocks some of the mustache unless it's -- you know, like --

TAPPER: Like the season three premiere. It shows that it's not fake, like you're cutting it.

SUDEIKIS: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

TAPPER: You want everyone to know that that's a real mustache?

SUDEIKIS: Yeah. That's why we didn't -- it was never been. It was fake for the second commercial, because I -- we didn't know we were going to get to do it and having a very late time and I'd rather have a real one.

Just cause -- just because that's 15 more minutes. I don't have to be in the makeup chair, which means 15 more minutes, I can, you know, be asleep, you know, prior to an early morning. It's all -- it's all very, you know, selfish.

TAPPER: But how has it been going from -- I mean the explosion of your fame and success?

SUDEIKIS: I would say --

TAPPER: Again, you were famous and successful before, but still this is a different level.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah. I mean, you know, Puff Daddy was onto some inmates about mo money, mo problems, and Biggie. But again, it's the reaction to those problems. So I can't -- I can't complain. You know, I'll leave that to the professionals.

But I feel like because of the themes of the show, most -- and those of us on -- again, on camera, have spoken about this, we're met with such, you know, kind -- you know, kindness and grace and people share their stories or explain where they've held the believe poster, where they have it like in a parent's, you know, hospital room, or in classrooms, or where have you.

And that stuff is incredibly moving, because the same, you know, humanity that you that you felt that I've you know, spoken about, that's what people are meeting us with.

TAPPER: Right.

SUDEIKIS: And you're just off of the races, you know? And you tried to spend as much time and be as present was with people, you know, I read, you know, everybody's messages that, you know, people are like, why do you have your DMs open on Twitter? It's like because people share these stories with me, and like, and they moved me to pieces. I read. I read them all.

And sometimes, there's requests that I can't get to all of them. But I want him to know that their -- that I sincerely to know that they're seen, they're heard, they're read, and they were moving, you know? And it's not anything that I believe any of us involved in the show take lightly or take for granted.


TAPPER: Coming up next, will there be another season of "Ted Lasso"?


SUDEIKIS: People asking about, you know, extra seasons and stuff like that, and I get it. And it's flattering.

Last one will start, stop --


TAPPER: Or is Jason Sudeikis hanging up his whistle for good?




SUDEIKIS: Hello, coach. Really glad you decided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up. Just shut up. You had me a coach (ph).



TAPPER: Now, I know a decision has not been made about whether or not there's going to be a season after season three.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, you know -- TAPPER: I mean, I don't want to --


TAPPER: I mean, those are decisions for a lot of people to make, including you. But how are you going to feel the last time you perform as Ted Lasso? I mean, that -- I would think that that would be -- that would be tough. And how do you think your fans would -- fans of Ted Lasso would?

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, I mean, impermanence is a big -- is another theme of the show, you know? I think one of the reasons Ted liked being a college coach, because maybe -- I mean, look, I'm not a psychologist, and I just sort of B.S.-ing through a lot of the stuff. But just these things make sense to me -- is that being a college coach is there's impermanence. You only get them for four years.

I will have had my time with it. I've been lucky enough in most instances in my life been involved with things that when I no longer got to do them. I want to know that at least I did him as well as I could while I could.


SUDEIKIS: And our goal is to go out like Willie Nelson, on a high.


SUDEIKIS: You know, people are asking about extra seasons and stuff like that, and I get it as flattering. And I get it from both a business standpoint and creative standpoint and a fandom, as a fan of things and having grown up as a fan of these things, of movies and television characters, specifically.

And so, I get to hang out. I see all these, you know all my friends, you know, Jeremy, who plays Higgins, Jimmy Lance, who plays Trent Crimm, you know, like I get to hang out with these guys. Nine hours a day still, you know, and I get to watch them and be excellent and like and make me laugh. Make me cry.

And I just try to support what openness and honesty and talent they've -- they've offered to the camera that we've captured and then to give to people to let them do whatever they want with it. So I haven't had the time to say goodbye to it yet, you know? And I know that, you know, it's nice to know there's a plan B there, that, you know, if she (ph) hits the fan, I can -- I can, you know, go to cameo and give pep talks you know? Keep that mustache 24/7 and, you know, view the world through that through the eyes of that character, through the soul of that character, which is a very optimistic, you know, some would even argue Pollyanna way to view the world.

But I don't think so. I think we all have Ted Lasso in us.

I feel like we fell out of the lucky tree, hit every branch on the way down, ended up in a pool full of cash and sour patch kids. I'm not, you know, Daniel Day Lewis, man. I'm not Meryl Streep. I

can't play early, so I haven't been asked to play something that it wasn't a tiny part of myself. And how do you -- how do you widen that lens and give it -- give it as much breath as possible?

That's -- so it will never leave me, even if I don't get to play it. It's in there, and I encourage folks to, you know, find themselves.

It's one of the neatest things, seeing all the men and women, you know, guys and you know, kids and adults dressing up like characters from our show and all different ways. It's a hoot.

TAPPER: You saw my Halloween outfit a couple of seasons.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, real solid.

TAPPER: I really worked hard on that.

When you won your second Emmy, were you like?

SUDEIKIS: I didn't believe it. I was shocked as hell.

TAPPER: You still?

SUDEIKIS: Yeah. I mean, yeah. No, you know --

TAPPER: It's touched something with people, though.

SUDEIKIS: Oh, it really has. I mean us as well. Like it -- it is, it is, it is. I mean, I've said it and I'll say it again because I truly believe it. And I'm being cute.

It is not -- Lasso is not show. It's not just character. It is a -- it is a vibe.

And the fact that people have picked up on that vibe, and it brought that vibe to their own, you know, schools and teams and communities and home and, you know, and again themselves, as has been flattering because it's -- I can speak towards the spoils of it, and it's not necessarily, you know, the awards, but the rewards that have come from it, for sure.

TAPPER: Thanks so much, Jason.

SUDEIKIS: Absolutely, Jake.

TAPPER: I really appreciate it.

SUDEIKIS: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.


TAPPER: You can catch the new season of "Ted Lasso" on Apple TV+.

I'll see you Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern for "STATE OF THE UNION" here on CNN. And Sunday night, joined CNN for a special night of laughter. "The

Kennedy Center Presents the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor celebrating Adam Sandler". That's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota is next. And don't forget, "OVERTIME WITH BILL MAHER" airs tonight at 11:30 p.m. Eastern.