‘Ted Lasso’ Star Hannah Waddingham Wants to Play a Superhero ‘That Absolutely Busts Everyone’s Balls but Looks Fabulous Doing It’

Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”

Add Hannah Waddingham to the list of actors who would love to be in a superhero movie. “Why do you think I’ve done sci-fi things in the past?” says the “Ted Lasso” star, whose credits include the television adaptation of “12 Monkeys” and “Krypton,” a Syfy series about Superman’s grandfather. “Why wouldn’t I want to play something that goes, ‘Oh, now you’re going to walk through that wall and kill everyone in the room and then shoot up to the sky?’” Does she have a particular superhero in mind? “All the Marvel characters are magnificent,” says Waddingham, who is in London with the cast and crew of “Ted Lasso” prepping to shoot the hit Apple TV Plus series’ third season in early March. “I want to be one that absolutely busts everyone’s balls but looks fabulous doing it.”

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. - Credit: Julieta Cervantes
. - Credit: Julieta Cervantes

Julieta Cervantes

Jefferson Mays doesn’t have scientific proof, but he thinks a fake nose that he wore during the early days of previews of Broadway’s “The Music Man” may have kept him from getting COVID-19. “I’m convinced that the extra layer of protection of latex on my own nose, coupled with some like fairly noxious adhesive fumes, may have saved me,” Mays, who plays Mayor Shinn opposite Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, tells me, laughing, ahead of the revival’s opening on Feb. 10. “I may have inadvertently stumbled upon a cure.”

“The Music Man” has had a bumpy ride to the Winter Garden Theatre, including producer Scott Rudin leaving the production amid allegations of longtime serious workplace misbehavior. And then there’s the pandemic. Performances were canceled in early previews when Jackman tested positive for COVID. When Sutton contracted the virus, her understudy Kathy Voytko filled in. “I think we maybe were two weeks into performances before we had the original company back together again,” says Mays, who earned a Tony for best actor in a play in 2004 for his work in “I Am My Own Wife.” “We have a cast of nearly 50, but there was one night where we were lacking 15 people! We’ve just soldiered on in spite of the pandemic.”

Joey King at the premiere of “Moonfall” held at TCL Chinese Theatre on January 31, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. - Credit: Christopher Polk for Variety
Joey King at the premiere of “Moonfall” held at TCL Chinese Theatre on January 31, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. - Credit: Christopher Polk for Variety

Christopher Polk for Variety

Joey King kicks butt in the upcoming fairy-tale action-adventure pic “The Princess.” “I can’t wait for there to be a trailer for this movie because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she tells me on this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast (available Feb. 11). “I pushed myself physically to limits I never knew were possible. I would be fighting sometimes for eight to 10 hours a day. I fell in love with action.” What’s more, she did most of her fight and stunt training with one arm in a cast after having surgery to remove a cyst from her wrist.

King will next be seen in “The In Between,” a romance about a high school senior who is visited by the ghost of her boyfriend (Kyle Allen) after he’s killed in a car crash. Think a YA “Ghost,” King says. “It’s very reminiscent of ‘Ghost,’ but like Kyle said, ‘There is no pottery scene in our movie, but there are scenes that are on par if not better,’” she says.


In the new Amazon rom-com “I Want You Back,” Charlie Day plays a man who bonds with a new friend (Jenny Slate) after both are dumped by their longtime loves. Pete Davidson makes a surprise cameo in a hilarious scene involving a Jacuzzi. “We have a good texting relationship now,” Day says of the “Saturday Night Live” player. “He seems to call me every time he’s in town.” He adds, laughing, “I’m glad he’s able to fit me into his busy schedule. …He’s also very effusive to me because ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ was a big part of his adolescence. It’s dating me, but he always says that from 15 on he was watching ‘Sunny,’ and it’s a big reason he wanted to go into comedy.”

The film mark’s Day’s debut headlining a rom-com. “I always wanted to do one, but I was worrying it was getting to be too late or maybe they don’t see me as attractive enough or leading man enough,” he says. “You start beating yourself up, but I knew I could handle the comedy and the emotion.”

Day is also putting the finishing touches on his directorial debut, an untitled comedy starring Ken Jeong that he wrapped just before the pandemic. He turned to his mentor Guillermo del Toro, who cast Day in “Pacific Rim,” for advice. “I told him I was happy with the movie, but given the opportunity, I would change about 25% of it to make it better,” Day recalls. “Guillermo said, ‘Don’t give it to the world yet. Make the movie you want to make.’” After a week of reshoots, Day is doing final color and music before sending the film to potential distributors.

Day was on hand at last night’s “I Want You Back” drive-in premiere in downtown Los Angeles. Slate talked to me about making her on-screen singing debut when her character performs in a high school production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” “I’ve never sung in a movie before,” she said. “No one has asked me and depending on how you feel about the performance that might be why. But I’ll tell you what, I loved it and I hope somebody lets me do it again.” For more from the premiere, check out Variety on Twitter, @variety.

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