Hannah Waddingham made her Super Bowl commercial debut during today’s telecast of the NFL’s championship game.
The “Ted Lasso” star is featured in a spot for cash-back shopping service Rakuten. She plays a villainous (and glamorous) character that could easily appear in a “James Bond” film — she has a hairless cat named Leonardo! — in a high-stakes poker game who loses to a Rakuten user. The 60-second spot, directed by Matt Aselton, was shot at Hatfield House outside of London.
“They came to me because they wanted a very specific kind of type,” Waddingham told Variety. “They’d obviously seen me in ‘Ted Lasso’ and also what I’m like in real life. I like that fact that it is their first foray into Super Bowl commercials and mine as well. We kind of went hand-in-hand together and we all wanted to create something that was pretty epic and movie-like.”
I caught up with the Emmy winner from her home in the U.K. to talk football, James Bond and working with Sarah Jessica Parker, Better Midler and Kathy Najimy in the upcoming “Hocus Pocus” sequel.
Are you a fan of American football?
Do you know what? This is a little known fact about me when I was 10 years old. I think because I got an older brother. I used to wander around the house with no clothes underneath and then a Minnesota Vikings little helmet and shoulder pads.
I think it’s because my dad had worked in America a lot. And my brother was obsessed with rugby. And I think my dad was trying to get him into American football. And I remember that my first crushes were on the guys in that football team because I remember thinking, “Oh, how they got such big shoulders. Aren’t they lovely?” Not realizing they were pads.
Do you regularly watch the Super Bowl?
I’m not usually because I’m usually working, getting my daughter and things like that. But I think I think I’m gonna try and knock on Jason Sudeikis’ door and say, “Come on, dude! Have a little party and I’ll be behind a cushion on your couch.”
You’re in a Super Bowl commercial! How great is that?
It’s kind of rounding off the year very nice.
I just looked this morning and a teaser for the commercial of just you doing an evil laugh has 2.7 million views on YouTube.
Woot, woot! Me being ridiculous. You know what’s so lovely is that Matt Aselton and I just clicked immediately. I think the reason why the laughing section thing is so good and immediately appealing is because he was just like, “I want you to just go! I want you to do just as much as you want to do.” He just kind of let me run wild. I think that’s when things work the best.
The commercial has a very James Bond feel.
Well, yes, that’s what was put across to me. They were like, “Do you want to come and do the first ever Super Bowl commercial for Rakuten?” My ears pricked up because I knew about Rakuten I was like, “Is that where you could get money for buying a friend a present?” OK, I’m immediately in. And then they said, “We’d also quite like you to be like a Bond villain.” I mean, what is not to like about that?
Is this your informal audition for a Bond film?
No. [Laughs]. The whole Bond thing should be left to the boys. People should have the wherewithal and talent to write something for women stand-alone.
Now, let’s talk “Ted Lasso.” Did you all come back to set with your Emmys?
We’re far more low key than that. You know what we all love is that we are all chomping at the bit to get back to AFC Richmond. I can’t wait to get back behind my Rebecca desk.
Have you started filming Season Three?
We haven’t started filming. We’re kind of doing our prep for it at the moment. And that’s a lot more time-consuming than most people think. It’s like getting a load of plates spinning in the right direction again.
How much do you know about what going to happen in the new season.
Absolutely nothing. [Laughs].
When do you start shooting?
I think we reconvene around the seventh of March. We’re all absolutely champing at the bit, it feels like it’s been an awful long time.
What was it like walking on set of “Hocus Pocus 2”?
Oh, my lord! I turned up for my fitting in Rhode Island and the second assistant director said, “All the ladies would like to meet you.” Honestly, my jaw dropped off. I went and sat with them in their costumes. Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler and the mighty SJP. And I sat there while they were having their lunch break with them in their full garb. It felt like a competition where I felt like I was going to have to leave the room and then pay somebody 1,000 pounds or something. I was literally like, “What is going on?” It was the most joyous “pinch me” moment. It really was.
What does your daughter think of all this and everything that’s been happening with you?
She absolutely loves it. Honestly, when I say I’m going up to do things, the first question is always, “Can I come?” I love that. I love that she’s inspired by it all. But I have to kind of sidle out the door and not make a big fuss.
But you do have to tell her you’re going to shoot a movie with Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker.
I may have gotten her a little video from set.