Many of the characters on the Apple TV+ comedy Ted Lasso dress similarly since it’s a show about (non-American) football and primarily features the players, who very often are on the field in uniform playing the game. But there’s still plenty for hairstylist Nicky Austin, who received her second consecutive Emmy nomination this year for her work on the show, to do.
Below the Line spoke with Austin about the two actors she works most with, Jason Sudeikis and Juno Temple, and how one of them takes up considerably more time than the other (keep reading if you can’t guess which one that is). She praised the entire cast’s eagerness to be up for whatever she might suggest – and to offer their own suggestions when appropriate.
Austin also emphasized the hair arcs for certain characters and how they’ve changed over the course of the show’s three seasons, or, in the case of Temple’s Keeley, multiple times in a single episode. Her work has been very collaborative with the costume department because Keeley’s hair in particular is very much tied in with the clothes she’s wearing.
Below The Line: How did you first become attached to Ted Lasso?
Nicky Austin: It was back in April 2019. A producer I worked with told me she was going to be doing a little comedy and asked me if I’d be interested. Obviously it wasn’t a little comedy, it was a great big comedy, and she sent me the pilot. I just thought, wow, there’s something really great here. Warner Brothers, Jason Sudeikis, and I thought, yeah, this is going to do well, so I jumped right in.
BTL: Who do you spend most of your time working with from the cast?
Austin: I look after Jason. I’ve looked after him all three seasons, and I look after Juno Temple, who plays Keeley. I oversee all their hair and makeup, but they’re the two that I spend most of my time with and then I delegate different people to different people. Some of my team have been with me since the very start, so they’ve been able to keep the same people the whole time, and they’ve developed brilliant relationships. Sometimes, I just want to, you know, help with Cristo’s hair, just because it’s so fabulous, so I’ll just have a little play. But I’m with Jason every time he’s Ted, and Juno every time she’s Keeley.
BTL: So those are two very different people. I feel like Jason always looks the same and Juno always looks different. Is one more challenging than the other, to recreate the same thing for him or to try to make her look different in every situation?
Austin: Oh yeah. Jason is just so easygoing. There’s the odd time we get to play with his hair. I painted his nails once in season two. Sometimes he has a bit of stubble if he hasn’t slept. He’s a bit disheveled sometimes. But generally, Ted always looks the same. Juno had forty-four looks in season three alone for Keeley. So we’re constantly trying to come up with new ideas and make her as fabulous every episode which is work, but it’s so fun.
BTL: Do you have any favorites from those forty-four looks?
Austin: This season, myself and Jacky Levy, the costume designer, we went all out this year. The most expensive one was the final match of the season where Kelly had two bunchies in her hair, and she had these tiny little hair bubbles. We were in a vintage store in Notting Hill, which is close to all our hearts. It’s where we filmed quite a bit of Ted, and we found these vintage Louis Vuitton hair bubbles in Richmond colors. They were in a glass cabinet, and we were like, oh my god, the last match of the season! The owner there, being a fan of the show, did us the most awesome deal, and I was like, right there, they have to be in the show. But I love Keeley when she’s broken down at home. I love her when she’s just on her couch. I love her when she’s a little bit out there, like when Roy and Jamie come to say, which one of us is it, choose one, and she’s just sat there with just the crazy one hair clip in her hair. Moments like that are just perfectly Keeley.
BTL: Working with the costume department, do you find that usually you’re informing them, or the other way around in terms of Keeley’s looks and for others as well?
Austin: Well, Jacky and I are quite close, so sometimes I’ll text her and go, I’m thinking of doing this. Usually I’ve got the idea in my head, and then I’ll text Jacky and I’ll say, what are you thinking for this scene and she’ll send me the option. I’ll be like, oh, I’ve got a hair accessory that really works well with that. Sometimes, with Keeley, with the schedule the way it is, she can have so many scenes in one day that sometimes I’m having to change her three times a day, and it’s just the way her character is because we’ve got so much location work with Keeley. Sometimes, she’ll change into an outfit, and I wasn’t really prepared for it, because it’s a change from what I thought it was going to be, so I just have this mountain of hair accessories with me, and then Juno and I will be like, what are we going to do? What’s going to look cute? We’ll just decide, just before we shoot the scene. And then it’s just a question of taking a million pictures and remembering that, that day, she had that particular hair extension. Sometimes there’s some little Easter eggs in there, throwbacks to things. We try and have fun with it because Keeley is such a gorgeous character for us to work with.
BTL: What has the work been like with Hannah Waddingham and the character of Rebecca?
Austin: So, Rebecca was slightly trickier because her character changed. Although Keeley obviously went on a journey and she became a businesswoman away from modeling and everything, Rebecca went on a massive personal journey, didn’t she? So we had to change her a little bit, but she was always the multimillionaire football club owner, so we couldn’t change her too much. Hannah was really up for being broken down wherever we could, because Rebecca has to look professional at work.
When she’s around the table with all these men, she always has to look really on point and well turned out. It’s her armor. But when we got the opportunity to break her down, Hannah was really up for that. If she was at home and she could have less makeup, slightly messy hair. Her scenes with her love interest in season three on the boat. I mean, has she ever looked more beautiful than on that boat when she had hardly any makeup on and wet hair? It was a side of Rebecca that I’m so glad everyone got to see. She doesn’t actually need all the makeup and the updos because she’s so naturally beautiful.
BTL: Moving on to some of the men, I’m curious about the players and what you have to do when they’re actually running around and theoretically sweating, how that affects their hair or their makeup?
Austin: I have my team, who are wonderful and run around with them. Literally run onto the pitch every time they yell cut. In season one, we shot – and you can tell, you can watch it and actually tell in season two as well – a lot of football we shot in very cold weather. A lot of the time, it was drying them off from rain, rather than keeping them cool from sweat. We run in with fans and water and we wipe the sweat off their brows and powder them if we need to, but they are also playing football. We add wet when needed and shine. They can’t look too pristine. Sometimes we mess their hair up a bit. If they’re supposed to be running around a pitch for an hour, they shouldn’t really look too gorgeous.
Although it was tough with the schedule, because sometimes, you’d film four or five different days and different times, and sometimes it’s a challenge to keep up with, how long have they been playing for that? They do bits of scenes, like a goal from here and a crossbar from here, and sometimes it was hard to keep up with the continuity of it all. You’d turn out to the cast, and you’d go, what are you doing right now? How long have you been playing? But the boys were great. They would guide us and they got to know us so well. We became such a family that they would come up to us and be like, can you help me with this or help me with that? They’re a great bunch to work with.
BTL: I think the most spectacular hair transformation aside from Keeley throughout the show was probably Jamie Tartt. How much of that was planned, and what was most challenging about it?
Austin: It was all planned. None of it was coincidence, because Jamie is a tart, basically. He’s a vain man. He had a real progression, his character, and we wanted to show that. I always wanted to change him up. It was slightly more challenging with season three because of the way we had to film things, so I couldn’t really change his look too much. But then when he was a bit more serious, like in the montage when he sat with his dad, he doesn’t have the spider leggy, as we always call his hairstyle, the David Beckham. He has it more swept back and a bit more sophisticated. But Jamie was always just supposed to be fun.
In season one, I found a crazy image of Cristiano Ronaldo. We went with it. In season two, we went with Jack Grealish. And again, we introduced the crazy headband and the eyebrow slit, and then season three, Phil came to me and said I’ve got an idea. It’s not necessarily that easy, but what do you think of this? And he sent me a photo of David Beckham in the nineties. And I was like, I was literally going to say to you, can we dye your hair? So we did. We put highlights in it, and that photo is all over Instagram with his hair foils in. We came up with this look that is basically David Beckham when he was playing for Manchester United. He’s just such a great sport and he’s such a brilliant actor and I love the fact that we could do something with him that was different every season.
BTL: Are there any other characters that you particularly proud of their hair that that you wanted to share?
Austin: Nate. I think Nick Mohammed is such a brilliant actor that he doesn’t need the help of hair necessarily to help portray what his character is going through, but I do think it did something. It gave something extra, to see the light go out of his eyes at the end of season two, and to see the color have gone from his hair as well. If you compare the start of season one to the end of season two, the transformation is crazy. And that can happen in real life, for people who are experiencing extreme stress. And then the subtle changes of him having a really, really rigid hairstyle while he’s in the dark doom of West Ham to when he comes back to Richmond. It’s just that slightly softer hairstyle there, and it shows his character a little bit in his hair. I was really proud of that one. Nick Mohammed was a really good sport. He was in the makeup chair for a lot longer than everyone else when he was having his gray transition. He was so polite. Such a gentleman and so appreciative of what we did.
BTL: How has working on this show been different for you from other projects in the past?
Austin: Oh, it’s completely different. It’s created something completely from scratch. There’s no AFC Richmond. They don’t exist. Jason and Joe Kelly and Brendan Hunt, what they’ve done is they’ve created a team that, although it’s not real, it’s in so many people’s hearts. I mean, you can be them on FIFA! It’s a phenomenon and they’ve created a family. A lot of my fellow heads of department, we’ve been on it since season one.
To live through the whole three seasons, we became really close. It just had such a lovely family feel to it. I think that’s why people love it so much. Although it’s a show about football and some of my girlfriends are like, well, I don’t really like football, I said, watch it! It’s not really about football, it’s about family. And friendships, and empathy and treating people in the right way and all those things. I think it’s just touched a lot of people’s hearts.
All episodes of Ted Lasso can be streamed via Apple TV+.