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Photo Credit: Austin Hargrave

Acting Up: Brett Goldstein


Welcome to ACTING UP, the place where we celebrate standout performances in TV, streaming, and film. Other than spotlighting exceptional work from recent projects, this feature also shines a light on how certain actors got where they are today. Have a peek and then check out these notable performances to help hone your craft.

 

The Snapshot:

Brett Goldstein plays the grumpy former English Premier League footballer Roy Kent as he reluctantly eases into his retirement in the Emmy-nominated Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso.

(Season two premiered on July 23rd.)

 

The Performance:

If you watched season one of Ted Lasso, you were introduced to the ever-irritable Roy Kent (Goldstein), who spent most of the time griping about one thing or another: If it wasn’t teammate Jamie Tartt, it was his own diminishing ability on the football (or, soccer) pitch.

But season two has taken the character of Roy Kent and upped the ante considerably. We pick up in his post-pro afterlife where he’s cohabitating with girlfriend Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) while grappling with all his newfound free time. This proves ripe comedy terrain for Lasso’s writers, who shuttle Roy between a yoga moms’ group and coaching his 9-year-old niece’s football team, which he does willingly, but with the same intensity with which he played. Witness one inspired nugget from a season-ending pep talk to the girls: “Enjoy your trophies for winning nothing.”

Goldstein’s gravelly Roy steals almost all the scenes he’s in by saying almost exactly opposite what you think a person would say. But it’s mostly about how delivers these lines with impeccable comedic timing and a steely-eyed look. This before Roy even tests out a TV football pundit gig at Keeley’s urging as she sees him struggling with his retirement. But joy isn’t something that comes naturally to Roy — so naturally, when he does try out the pundit gig, he can barely pretend to care as he lobs insults at his colleagues and former teammates — such as Tartt, who he calls: “A muppet and I hope he dies of the incurable condition of being a little bitch.”

Not exactly ready for primetime.

But it should be said that Roy isn’t a one-note character — and that’s what makes him so good in season two. It’s a testament to not only the character that was created by series creators Bill Lawrence, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly, but also to Goldstein’s creative choices and abilities. That is, underneath his angry griping is a huge soft spot that easily wins you over — which is really the essence of why so many loved Lasso season one (as evidenced by its 20 Emmy nominations).

One of those nods has gone to Goldstein himself for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series” category. Given the timing, it’s easy to imagine that his performance in season two will only help his Emmy cause. Because of Goldstein’s take on Roy’s blunt-force honesty, he is one of the inspired characters in Lasso, much like nominated co-star Hannah Waddingham. But make no mistake: Season two is Goldstein’s big breakout from the top streaming series, proving yet again that it isn’t about what’s on the page, but what you bring to the material.

 

The Career:

Sometimes an actor plays a role so well, you wonder how they nail it so easily.

Well, one reason in Goldstein’s case is that the 41-year-old Brit is also a writer on the series, serving as Executive Story Editor in season one, and getting upped to Co-Producer for season two.

In fact, Goldstein was originally hired as a writer on the series, but according to this article in Rolling Stone, he felt “such a kinship with this stoic tough guy… that he emailed a self-taped audition of five scenes to the production team. The tapes, which included the ‘If I don’t hear silence, I’m gonna start punching dicks’ scene from the pilot, ended up scoring him the role.”

Writing comedy is a natural place for the talented former standup comedian Goldstein, who, after studying acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Art at age 22, began his career with the solo show Brett Goldstein Grew Up in a Strip Club back in 2006. Since taking his show(s) on the road, he’s worked in film and TV a bunch, landing series regular roles on shows such as Ricky Gervais’ Emmy-nominated Derek (2012-2014) and SuperBob (2015), a romantic comedy about a postman who develops superpowers after getting hit by a meteorite. And because some (like me) think history should only be taught through drunk re-enactments, it should be said that Goldstein played James Garfield and Robert Dudley in Drunk History: UK (2016-2017).

In the past year, Goldstein has kept himself super busy when he wasn’t grunting his way through episodes of Ted Lasso, as he co-created, wrote, and executive-produced the AMC limited series Soulmates, which launched in October, 2020. The six-part anthology series is set 15 years into the future when scientific discoveries have made it possible to find out who your soulmate is.

Finally, for those who want to further geek out on Goldstein, know that he also hosts the podcast “Films to Be Buried With,” where he has conversations with guests (like Barry Jenkins) about films that have shaped them. And now, with a season three of Ted Lasso already locked in (I’ll pause for a quick “yay”), there’s a lot more of Goldstein’s grousing as Roy Kent to come.

And for that, we should all be grateful.

 

Gregg Rosenzweig has been a writer, creative director and managing editor for various entertainment clients, ad agencies and digital media companies over the past 20 years. He is also a partner in the talent management/production company, The Rosenzweig Group.