‘Ted Lasso’ Actor Maximilian Osinski Weighs in on Zava’s Retirement After Episode 5

“He has left the team and now the team is on their own,” the actor tells TheWrap

Apple TV+

Season 3 of “Ted Lasso” recruited several new characters both on and off the pitch. 

The third installment of the Apple TV+ comedy series builds around AFC Richmond’s snagging one of the best international soccer players, Zava, who boosts Richmond’s record with his goal-scoring. Based primarily off of Zlatan Ibrahimović of Sweden, a striker who Zava resembles, and played by Maximilan Osinski, the “larger than life” player shifts the show’s energy in more ways than one, starting in the locker room. 

“It’s always fun to bring these larger-than-life characters on any show, but trying to keep them grounded. We’re not trying to play the real-life version of anyone he was based on, but an amalgamation of those guys, on the show,” Osinski told TheWrap. “Because they do exist and they do influence the world of football, not just in England, and they do change the room and they do change the team.”

After his four-episode arc, Zava has decided to retire, claiming he has played his last game. Osinksi encourages viewers to watch and see whether he is off the show for good.

“Obviously in real life, these guys say they retire and sometimes they go off and start an organic produce store or a restaurant,” he said. “Sometimes they think they want to retire and then the US comes calling with a big paycheck to play, like the LA Galaxy or any MLS team, and they do that for a year, because it’s easy money.”

Osinksi sat down with TheWrap to answer more questions about his role in what could be the final season of “Ted Lasso.” Read below:

What does Zava overall bring to the show in this third season that it was maybe missing/drives it to the end?

Osinski: I think he brings a little bit of what it’s like to be at the mountaintop in this world of Premier League Football and general world of football globally that we didn’t really get that much sense of in the first two seasons. It helps bring a lot of perspective to get a sense of what else is out there and what these characters as players might have been looking up to when they were growing up and falling in love with soccer or football and look who they were looking up to aspire to be.

Episode Five just came out, and Zava says he’s retiring. Is this the last we see of him? What can you say about that?

He has left the team and now the team is on their own and I think that’s going to be part of the fun for the audience to see ‘Do they rally? And if so, how? And what do they do now that they don’t have this crutch to lean on for scoring goals? Because apparently, it’s still not enough, he scores goals, but if there’s the other guys aren’t there you can’t win. Hopefully, this propels Jamie — like it seems to be doing — to step up and fill the shoes that he’s kind of been being groomed for and he really has a desire to do.

It’s nice that he’s retiring for his family, and he’s a devoted family man. That was a really nice layer to add on to a character like this because you wouldn’t assume that would be the case.

Zava is very serious, but also aloof at times. Was it challenging to stay in character with everyone else on the cast being so funny? Did you ever break character or have a hard time with that?

“It was particularly tricky to not break, especially in that locker room scene the very first time Zava meets everyone. When you have mostly everyone there from the show, doing that scene, and then Jason’s bit behind Zava which I didn’t see until I saw the episode and the cast trying to keep it together. It was very hard. Usually I’m pretty good, but that was a quite a challenge when you have Jason behind you and then you have Brendan in front of you and all of those guys like trying to also keep it together as you’re trying to be very genuine and serious with the character as he speaks to the team. I think it added to the tension of that moment. I think it kind of helped, but yeah I was clenching extra hard.

Did you have any soccer background coming in, or did you train at all for Zava’s action scenes?

*Holds up a zero gesture with one hand.* Zero background.. My experience with soccer was soccer was just in high school and in gym class going to kick the ball and it popping up and smacking my face, saying ‘I’m done with this sport.’

When I got the part, I hired a soccer coach one on one for about two months on my own just training. I said ‘Look, treat me like I’m five. I’m a clean slate and I don’t know anything.’ and that’s kind of what I did. And then you come on set and we did the choreography for the actual soccer goals, and I was very proud to say that I was able to do those actual goals myself. That’s how much I was able to do but I’m saddened to say I haven’t gotten any better.

Did you improvise any scenes or lines?

Zaba naming his kid that came out of conversations at the onset. Because I’m Polish, some holidays that the Polish community celebrates — we were laughing at it. That inspire them to name one of his kids Śmigus-Dyngus (Easter Monday which was April 10 this year).

When they’re playing the video of Nate ripping up the ‘Believe,’ Zava doesn’t really address it, but what do you think he would say to something like that if he knew what was going on?

I think in that moment he’s more shocked at how the team is reacting and doesn’t understand why this person who means nothing in the moment — this little pittance of ripping a piece of paper — to Zava is creating such fervor with the team.He starts to see that their focus is not exactly where his is at. They’re more focused on revenge and getting back at him than winning that game.

I think he’s saying, ‘This is meaningless.’ This is beyond what we are here to do because for him, you’re playing in this pantheon of the gods, which is this the Premier League soccer match in this beautiful stadium, and we’re here to do our job and, and win. I’m here to win, and what are you guys here to do? Because this is child’s play right now. Get your head on straight.