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This Week’s Most Noteworthy Performance: Phil Dunster

September 5-11
“Man City” | Ted Lasso
Phil Dunster

Phil Dunster as Jamie Tartt in Ted Lasso's "Man City" available now on Apple TV+
Source: Apple TV+

The Ted Lasso cast continues to impress us with impeccable range to the point where we are rendered utterly speechless week after week. “Man City” is Jamie Tartt’s episode as much as it is the episode where darkness is brewing for almost all the characters.And thus, with the events leading to the final scene, the episode gave Phil Dunster ample opportunities to show the audience so much of what Jamie was going through.

The best performances are always the ones full of inexpressible embodiment that showcases just how deeply the actor understands the character. And throughout the episode, Phil Dunster was bringing to the surface bouts of vulnerability we’ve yet to see from Jamie as if to prepare us for the calamitous moment by the end. We know his father is an abusive figure in his life, we know he has suppressed a tremendous amount of heart out of fear of being deemed weak, and we know that more than anything, right now Jamie Tartt is trying his best. And through every look, every expression Dunster laid bare just what was stirring within the character at any given moment.

Phil Dunster showed the audience just how deeply Jamie wants to connect with other people, a reason to feel a little less alone through the quiet performances that resulted in revealing a plethora of his heart. When Jamie is talking to Higgins for instance, you can see him search for the detail that perhaps he isn’t alone in having a terrible father on the team. The way his voice softens a little and his expressiveness comes to the surface encapsulates so much of what we’ve yet to see but knew was within. You can see the achingly profound longing in his expression as he overhears the healthy way in which Sam talks to his father. Whatever the emotion this week, Dunster’s work was impressively nudging us to pay close attention.

In those quiet moments before the darkness that arises in the locker room, Phil Dunster was bringing to the surface aches within Jamie that hadn’t yet been crystallized this potently. And then in that final scene when it all comes crashing down through an achingly harrowing performance, Dunster should land the supporting actor role for the Emmys next year.

The way his body trembled ever so slightly, and the stunning form in which it was clear that Jamie was desperately trying to hold it together shattered me. Through a wide range of emotions, Dunster brought to the surface the aches of a man who’s held so much in, he has no clue how to deal with the waves suffocating him now. The way he clenched on to Roy and the way  he cried felt so incredibly real, I imagine all of our hearts were in pieces as a result of it.

Phil Dunster’s work this week was breathtaking, through every emotional beat he showed us just how deeply he understands the character, and he proved that there could be no one else to take on Jamie Tartt’s journey, his mannerisms, and all that is within him as impeccably.

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