Characterizing Ted Lasso purely as feel-good, warm and fuzzy entertainment has become a pretty common oversimplification, usually wielded by critics who don’t like Ted Lasso and really, really don’t like how many other people do like it.
Having that contrarian take is allowed, of course, but it’s a pretty bad one; there are fair criticisms of the show, but writing it off as some kind of kindness porn is not one of them. One example: Dani Rojas, played by Cristo Fernández, stands out on the show precisely because his character truly is the kind of embodiment of positivity those critics condemn the entire series to be. Aside from the brief depressive episode after he accidentally kills a dog on the field (again, “kindness porn”, sure) during the season 2 premier, Fernández’s Rojas has been the team’s heart, while also its star on the field.
Fernández has a lot of acting credits, but this is his most visible role for American audiences, and based off his interview last night with Niall Horan (following Stephen A. Smith as a Jimmy Kimmel guest host), it seems like he’s really bringing a lot of his own personality to the role.
Fernández was a pro soccer prospect as a teenager, for one thing, before injuries derailed his career and led him to acting. (Which helps explain why Dani gets a lot of the showier soccer action for the series.) We get a glimpse of that at the end, when the Irish Horan joins him in kicking a ball around in front of the desk. And he also isn’t shy about noting that he gets annoyed when Americans call it “soccer”, which means I’ve already pissed him off at the start of this paragraph.
But the best anecdote, which starts at the 4:30 mark:
Fernández calling him “Mr. Apple Man” is absolutely fantastic, of course, as is imagining the horror of his publicist in that moment.
Hopefully Fernández continues to shine as Dani Rojas. And maybe they’ll re-do the (otherwise perfect) Christmas episode credits to include him in the stop-motion animation sequence, too.)