Lately, Sudeikis told me, he had tried to pay more attention to how he actually felt about something, to all the different signs and omens that show up to a person in the course of his life. Even in his past, he said, there were moments that were obvious in retrospect to what the universe was trying to say, messages that he completely overlooked at the time. In Vegas, where he lived with Cannon before Saturday Night Live, he developed alopecia and his hair stopped growing, and he didn’t know why. And then, in his late 30s, “during the nine months before Otis and the nine months after he was born,” Sudeikis developed extremely painful sciatica. “I went to an MRI and said, ‘Oh yeah, the jelly donut in my L4, L5 squirts out and touches a nerve.’ “But why? When he had his second child, it didn’t happen at all. So why?
“I mean, since last November,” said Sudeikis, “the joke that feels more like a parable to me is a guy who sits at home in front of the TV and the news comes in to say a flood warning. About an hour later he goes out on his porch and sees that the whole street is flooded. ”The rest of this joke you’ve probably heard before: While the guy is praying to God for help, a truck, boat and helicopter come by and offer help the guy declines. God will see to it, he says. Sudeikis ended the joke: “Two hours later he’s in heaven. He’s dead. He says, ‘God, what’s the matter, man? You didn’t help me. ‘ God says, ‘What do you mean man? I sent you a pickup truck, I sent you a speedboat, I sent you a helicopter. ‘ “So, Sudeikis said,” You can’t tell me the hair fell out of my head – I don’t know if it was the speedboat or the pickup or the helicopter, but yeah, man, it all comes down to sleep at home . What you resist persists. “
He went on. “That’s why I had sciatica,” he said. “This is the speedboat. It was like, ‘Hey, you need to look at your stuff.’ ”
And in this way, too, Sudeikis and Ted Lasso are similar, because both learn and learn this lesson over and over again, which is: Be curious. Both are philosophical men whose philosophies essentially boil down to living as decent a life as possible. Not just for the sake of it, but because being curious – finding out something new about yourself or someone else – means becoming empowered. “I don’t know if you remember GI Joe growing up,” said Sudeikis, “but they always ended with a little saying, ‘Oh, now I know.’ ‘Don’t put a fork in the socket.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because you could get hurt.’ “Oh, now I know.” And then someone said, ‘And knowing is half the battle.’ And I agree – with children, knowledge is half the battle. But adulthood does something about it. That’s the other half. ‘I’m bad with names.’ ‘I’m always late.’ Oh! Knowledge is half the battle. All right, so win the damn fight by doing something about it! Get better in names. Arrive five minutes early, make it your business. So, I’m still learning these things. But hopefully I have enough time to do something about it. “
Sudeikis smiled a little tired: “I mean, at the end of this joke the guy still has to go to heaven, you know?”
Zach Baron is a senior member of GQ.
A version of this story originally appeared in the August 2021 issue, entitled “Jason Sudeikis Paints His Masterpiece”.
Photos from Hill & Aubrey
Styled by Michael Darlington
Care by Nicky Austin
Tailoring from Nafisa Tosh
Set design by Hella Keck
Produced by Ragi Dholakia Productions