The Eternal Sunshine of Juno Temple
After a lifetime playing heavy, dramatic roles—and weathering the lonely, painful pandemic year—the Ted Lasso actress is overjoyed to be playing one of the sunniest characters on TV's warm-and-fuzziest show.
Jessica M. GoldsteinJul 21, 2021When Juno Temple was 14, she told her parents she wanted to be an actress. Her dad was a film director, her mom a producer, so they knew exactly what she was getting into, which is why they tried to talk her out of it. “Oh
no. Oh, shit. Are yousure?” she remembers them saying to her. “You’re going to be told ‘no’ all the time.” But high off some formative cinematic experiences—Peter Jackson’sHeavenly Creaturesreally did a number on her—Temple would not be deterred. Her parents found out about an open audition, and her mom sent her off. “You want to be an actress?” she said. “Go see how many other people want to be actresses.”
The open call was for 2006’s psychological thrillerNotes on a Scandal. Temple got the part. Her mom’s reply, through tears: “That's not how it's supposed to go.” Temple’s second audition was for 2007’s Academy Award–nominated drama,Atonement, and though Saoirse Ronan landed the role Temple had her eye on (kid sister Briony), she was cast in the still-substantial part of cousin Lola. The UK-native continued building a reputation for her deftness with dark, dramatic roles for more than a decade, when she got a text from her friend Jason Sudeikis: Would she be interested in reading the pilot for this comedy he was working on called headtopics.com
Ted Lasso?Temple, 32, is Zooming into this interview from her best friend’s place in London, which she’s been renting since January while shooting season two of said comedy. Her ponytail is at an Ariana altitude, tied up with a black bow, and she leans close to the camera while talking, like she’s about to try to whisper in my ear through the screen.
“I read [theTed Lass0script] and I thought it was genius,” she says. “But I genuinely thought [Sudeikis] may have thought I was somebody else. Because I'm definitely not known for comedy stuff. So when he said in the text, ‘After you read, give me a call,’ I was like,
Well this is going to be the moment where I'm going to be like, ‘Jason, it's Juno here.’”Temple poses in a residence in the UK.Sophie EdelsteinWhat Temple loved about the script, and would come to love about the series, she explains, is “it was so nuanced in such a beautiful, intricate way that also wasn't preachy. It didn't feel corny to me. It felt very human.” Which is a twist in and of itself, because
Ted Lassohas a very corny logline: An American football coach gets a job coaching “football,” a.k.a. soccer, in the U.K., but unbeknownst to him, he was hired, basically, as a prank; fish-out-of-water hijinks ensue.Temple's gut reaction to the script was solidified by Sudeikis. He had a plan, she recalls, for the way every character was “going to surprise people” with their emotional depths and contradictions, starting with Ted, whose pathological sunniness deflects from the ache in his own life: a crumbling marriage his positivity cannot salvage. headtopics.com
Sudeikis wanted Temple to be Keeley Jones, a cheerful, former Page Three girl dating Jamie, the team’s young, hotshot star. Keeley describes herself in season one as “sort of famous for being almost famous;” when we meet her, she’s doing a bit of modeling but mostly hangs around her boyfriend’s team’s locker room. The arc Sudeikis described intrigued Temple, especially when it came to Keeley’s relationships: a love triangle between Jamie and his teammate, Roy, which would prompt all three of them to grow (“that sounded just playful and brilliant,” Temple says). Season one would also establish a friendship between Keeley and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), the team manager, who is older and icier and does not appear, at first, to be the sort of person whom Keeley would befriend.
Temple as Keeley in a moment from the upcoming second season ofTed Lasso.AppleTemple’s excitement about the role was laced with uneasiness, though, as she simmered in the worry that she hadn’t really “earned” the part because she didn’t have to audition. “It was nerve-wracking for me. And I was frightened, actually.”
But Temple’s Keeley became, like the show itself, someone you can’t help but root for. She’s a WAG, sure, but her energy is less Rebekah Vardy v. Coleen Rooney, more Tami Taylor x Fran Fine. (When Keeley starts taking herself seriously as a career woman, she buys herself a Barbie-pink notebook with the words “My Adventures As A Unicorn” emblazoned in shiny letters across the cover.) She is her friends’ most devoted hypewoman, the advocate who believes enough in the people around her to actually hold them accountable for their bad actions. Because she knows they can do better.
I’d started my conversation with Temple with what’s become a perfunctory opener—How has your year of Covid been? Are you and your family okay?—and she responded by detailing the number this brutal stretch had done on her mental and emotional health: heightened anxiety, waves of insomnia that left her “incredibly nocturnal,” body image struggles that were intensified by how trapped she felt at home just staring at herself in the mirror and the postage-stamp picture of her face in the corner of every FaceTime call, “hating parts of your body, exteriorly, and then having to remind yourself that it’s okay to not be a certain size, a certain height, all of those things.” headtopics.com
Temple's struggles probably sounds familiar, at least in part, to those who've spent the pandemic isolated, terrified, and grieving. WhenTed Lassopremiered on Apple TV+ in August 2020, the United States had just surpassed 5.4 million COVID-19 cases nationwide and pandemic-related deaths exceeded 1,000 per day. The air above California was so thick with fire that the blue sky burned orange, and the fate of democracy seemed to hang in the balance.
It might, at first, seem likeTedLassowas failing to read the room. It turned out to be just what audiences were seeking: a straight shot of sunshine, a glimmer of joy in an otherwise joyless year. It was the kind of show you would have to cajole your cynical friends into watching—a
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