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Nick Mohammed Explains Nate’s Actions in Season 2, Episode 12

[Editor’s note: The following contains major spoilers through the Season 2 finale of Ted Lasso, “Inverting the Pyramid of Success.”]

The second season of the acclaimed Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso has tested a number of the characters, including the show’s namesake (Jason Sudeikis), in ways that they could either push through and overcome or drown in. For Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed), who went from underdog to member of the coaching staff in the first season, his insecurities, sense of abandonment, and toxic relationship with his father distorted his newfound confidence into something darker, which ultimately came to a head in a way that should make for a very interesting third season.

After screening the Season 2 finale, Collider got on the phone to chat 1-on-1 with Mohammed about whether this could be Nate’s villain origin story, just how early he had an inkling of where things would be headed for his character, the justified reaction from fans, shooting the finale’s confrontation between Nate and Ted, the most brutal moment of the episode, the final scene, the possibility of redemption for this character, and how he’ll feel if the show really ends with the third season.

Collider: I appreciate you talking to me about Ted Lasso again. We spoke before the season started, and I feel like this is a very different conversation now.

NICK MOHAMMED: I think even in that conversation, I said, “I’ll chat with you towards the end of the season because I can’t give anything away.”

Do you see Season 2 as Nate’s villain origin story? Is he going full-on villain for Season 3? Do you think he’ll have a redemption arc in Season 3? What is happening?

MOHAMMED: Very, very broadly I know where things are heading, but I obviously can’t give anything away about Season 3. They’re writing Season 3 right now, so everything is still up for grabs. Obviously, I can imagine the fans of the show would love to see the circle complete and it become a redemption arc, but who knows? Maybe Nate has gone too far and maybe it is a villain origin story and there’s no going back, and he’s now the one character who doesn’t get to redeem himself because he’s too embittered and too toxic, ultimately. We’ll see. I’m not giving anything away. I’m keen to see as well. But it’s fun to play, that’s for sure.

I feel like, if this show can make me actually like Trent Crimm from The Independent, then anything is possible.

MOHAMMED: Good old Trent Crimm.


Image via Apple TV+

Before you started shooting this season, did they have a conversation with you and tell you what the full arc was going to be? Did you know all of this? Did any of it change, along the way?

MOHAMMED: Yeah, I did. I knew from quite early, actually. I remember when we were shooting the gala episode of Season 1 and Jason [Sudeikis] and I sat next to each other at the table during filming. There were quite a lot of camera breaks and he would chat through the plans. I don’t think, at that point, we knew that we had gotten the recommission, but he told me about his plans for a three-season arc for Nate. Exactly how he described the season was that it would be the Empire Strikes Back season and that, in general, it was gonna be a bit darker and take on some weightier subjects. So, I did know, but I didn’t know the details. We didn’t get everything upfront. I got the first two episodes before we started filming, but then everything was staggered delivery, as we were shooting over six months.

I would always have questions that were more performance questions, rather than questioning the writing. It was more just so I could clarify the performance. My chief concern was not wanting to peak too early. I knew where it was gonna go. In the same way that in Season 1, Nate was slowly building in confidence with a slow growth, I thought we had to match that with this slow dissent into him spiraling out of control, really, with that sense of abandonment and what that’s doing to him.

Were you scared at all of reaction from fans of the show? Do you even take fan reaction into personal consideration at all?

MOHAMMED: No. It was surreal and overwhelming, when it first started happening. It’s weird because Jason texted me literally this afternoon to check in that I was all right about the fan reaction. I was like, “Oh, God.” It means that we’re doing our job correctly. With the writing and the performance and the direction, we are meant to feel this about Nate. We’re meant to feel hate towards him. That’s correct. If fans are reacting that way, then it means that we’ve done our job in some small way. But it is weird because people are quite affronted, and rightly so, by some of the stuff that Nate has been doing. I absolutely don’t condone any of his actions. Hopefully, particularly off the back of Episode 12, when people see it and when he lays into Ted and explains how he’s been feeling, you can at least see why he’s feeling like that. Not to justify it still, but at least there’s a little bit of a reason as to why Nate has been behaving in this way with a series of micro-aggressions and this sense of abandonment and this toxic relationship he has with his dad and not really having anyone that he can really truly confide in and who gives him any sense of real worth. It’s a sad story for Nate, it really is.

What was it like to shoot that confrontation between Nate and Ted? Nate is really laying into Ted and Ted is just standing there and taking it. How was it to do that, and to do it with Jason Sudeikis?

MOHAMMED: It was genuinely challenging. My comfort area is absolutely comedy and doing silly little facial expressions. I was prepared for it because I knew we’d been building up to it. The Nate storyline has been getting more dramatic and more emotional this season anyway, so it was building towards it, but it didn’t really prepare me. I got the lines down because I just wanted to make sure that I was going in knowing that I didn’t have to worry about remembering lines. I wanted to make it feel as real as possible. But it’s a testament to those writers and Jason and the other creators. Joe Kelly was there on set, and Declan [Lowney], our director, and I think Brett [Goldstein] was there for a little bit of that as well, just talking me through it. They were really considerate. They shot my coverage first, so we didn’t peak early, and then do that coverage.


Image via Apple TV+

It’s all in Jason’s eyes. Having to look him in the eyes and say that stuff, Jason has this amazing way of making it feel very relatable to you and very personal to you. In a really great way, he gets inside your head. It was just intense. I’d never really done anything like it, so it felt quite raw, in a quite useful way. It felt genuinely upsetting when we were doing it. We had shot Season 2 during COVID and it just felt like an intense few months anyway. It felt like a bit of a release from that, in a weird way. I don’t wanna wax lyrical about it too much because there are plenty of other jobs that are a lot more difficult than acting. It was challenging, but ultimately, I felt very supported.

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I didn’t think that anything could get more brutal than that moment, until we see Ted walk into his office after winning the game and finding the Believe sign torn in half by Nate.

MOHAMMED: I know. Brendan [Hunt] told me that Jason was writing that episode and that they had been discussing that idea, and he told me on the football pitch. We were filming some stuff for Episode 10 or 11, I think, and I literally fell on the floor because I couldn’t believe it. I genuinely was like, “No, this is gonna destroy people.” An acquaintance of mine, who runs the student organization of the university that I went to, said they’ve got the Believe sign on top of the dressing room doors. It’s genuinely moving, you see it all over social media by real sports coaches using that and teachers using that message to inspire. The reach of the show is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Those creators have just created and written this amazing show that I felt so lucky to be a part of.

So then, to learn that sign gets ripped in two by Nate at the end, I was like, “Oh, God, you’re destroying this almost universal emblem of hope.” It’s maybe not far-reaching enough to say universal, but I’ve just seen it being used in so many really positive ways that it just feels like it really undermines all of that in a really brilliant way. The reason why we’re talking about it is because it does really pack a punch, to see that sign torn in two. So, God knows what people are gonna make of that.

At the very end of the finale, things pick up two months later and we see that Nate is now with West Ham United and with Rupert, but he also doesn’t seem overly happy. What do you think he’s feeling in that moment? Do you think he’s satisfied? Do you think that this is what he wants? Does he still not know what he wants?

MOHAMMED: That’s really interesting. I’ve not seen the final cut of Episode 12 yet. I know the shot that it ends on, but we shot a few variations of it. One was where he was quite smug and maybe a little bit happy and proud of himself. One of them, we see the horror in his eyes a little bit. So, I’m looking forward to seeing which one they used. I would absolutely have chosen the one where there was an absolute uncertainty in his face because I think every time we’ve seen Nate look in the mirror, especially after he’s done something bad, we know that he hates himself. He really, really hates himself, I think, and that stems back to his insecurities and the toxic relationship with his dad and the sense of abandonment that he’s feeling and that he doesn’t have anyone he can open up to. He just doesn’t have friends. He doesn’t have a relationship with a partner, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend. He doesn’t have a pet. He needs some real love and strength and support in his life.


Image via Apple TV+

He laid into Ted because he blamed Ted for that sense of loss, but it’s not Ted’s fault. It’s his dad’s fault, ultimately. In that final shot, he’s not happy because leaving Richmond FC and joining somewhere else doesn’t give him the fulfillment that he really needs. He might get to the top of the league that way and he might become this expert coach and he might become famous, but those aren’t the things that people want really, are they? So, if they’re gonna redeem Nate, and I genuinely don’t know if there’s a redemption arc or whether they’ll keep him as a villain, he’s got a long way to go. The funny thing is that West Ham sent me a kit. Last week, I got a parcel through the post and they sent me a kit and they said, “We’re glad to be part of the team.” I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Oh, my God.” They put my surname on the back of it and I was like, “I don’t know if I will be able to go out wearing this.”

Yeah, you might want to wait on that. In that last moment, it does feel like there’s a little bit of a sense of smugness to him, but at the same time, that doesn’t necessarily translate to happy and it doesn’t feel like he’s happy.

MOHAMMED: No, he’s not happy. There’s a very distinct moment when the lights go out in his eyes, and it matches the opening shot of the season, which is on Nate’s eyes, when they’re playing the match where Dani takes the penalty. They’re very clever. They’ve got it all mapped out.

Jason Sudeikis has said that this would be a three-season series. Do you get the sense that that’s still the plan, and if so, has it sunken that this third season could be the last season that you do the show?

MOHAMMED: You know what? No. That hasn’t sunk in. I genuinely don’t know the answer. I obviously know we’re doing a Season 3. I don’t know how I feel about it. If it’s just three seasons and this next season is our last, it will be so emotional. We are such family. I know it feels cliche to say that you bond with your castmates, and I don’t know whether it’s because of thematically where the show is and the positive messages and the fact that it’s taken people’s hearts at a time when people really needed that with the pandemic and everything, but we’ve bonded so well that it will be so emotional to think that there will be an end to it. But then, equally, part of me is like, “Where could they go after it?” I vaguely know what the third season generally might look like, but where would they go after that? Would they do a film? Would they have a break, and then do a Season 4? I don’t know. If it is the last year, that will be an intense final day, for sure.

Jason has been saying, since the beginning, that he saw it as three seasons, but it feels like everybody has just been in denial because they love the show so much. And it is so easy to see how much you guys genuinely love each other, as people.

MOHAMMED: Yeah, we do. I don’t know what it is. Everyone is different. Everyone has got a completely different personality and is at different stages of their lives. Some are parents, some are not, some are young, some are older, but there’s something about that cast and that group and those footballers as well. It’s just such a lovely bunch, and the crew as well. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s genuinely so rare to get that level of support. We feel so grateful. We felt grateful to be working anyway, particularly during the pandemic, but to be able to be working with such a talented and lovely bunch of people like that, we were pinching ourselves every day, really, because we felt very lucky.


Image via Apple TV+

The whole finale episode, I kept rooting for Nate to come to his senses and apologize, and it makes you even more upset at him because he has so many chances to do that and he just doesn’t. Did you ever personally wish that he had done anything differently, or as an actor, do you embrace and relish the opportunity to have a character arc like this?

MOHAMMED: I felt so lucky to be able to take on this slightly different trajectory because ultimately it makes it just more interesting. As I said, it’s not really in my comfort zone to do some of those more challenging scenes, like the one with Keeley and the one with Ted. It felt like I was able to learn some stuff again. Not to say that in Season 1, I was resting on my laurels, but it certainly felt easier. I could get into that mindset and do those tones of Nate a lot easier than some of the stuff that I do in Season 2, but it’s quite nice to sometimes get to do that. The character is established and you know that you’re in the hands of the great writers who are gonna take your character on this weird and wonderful journey. I just felt very lucky. It was really, really fun to play, albeit challenging at times.

I love the show. I love all of you guys. I love and hate Nate simultaneously right now. I will definitely be there for Season 3 and I’m hoping that he finds some redemption, at some point.

MOHAMMED: Thank you for saying that. Yeah, me too. Fingers crossed. Let’s see what they write. We start filming in January, I think.

Ted Lasso is available to stream at Apple TV+.

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