When Hannah Waddingham belted out "Let It Go" in Season One of "Ted Lasso," she was met with a surprised chorus of, "I didn't know she could sing!"
But Waddingham, the star of a new Apple TV+ holiday special, says singing was always in the cards for her as the daughter of a professional opera singer. No, her life's "greatest surprise" is becoming a mother, herself.
"I was a West End and Broadway leading lady for 22 years. I mean, that's not mucking around," she tells TODAY.com. "That's not a profession. That's a vocation."
Around 2011, moments before Waddingham was set to go onstage, she looked in the mirror in dressing room six at the London Palladium theater and had an epiphany.
"I was a bit like, 'Oh my God, I want a child,'" she says. "It literally, it was like a wave that hit me."
She describes it as a jolt to the senses. At the time, she was "37, just about to turn 38," and in the thick of her storied theater career, starring in a production of "The Wizard of Oz" as the Wicked Witch of the West.
After this realization, she "couldn't imagine moving on in my life without her."
"I knew that I was desperate to have one little girly," she says.
At first though, it "wasn't happening," and she sought fertility testing.
"That made me as I'm sure many couples know, it made me want it more," she says.
She turned to Eastern medical traditions to "balance" her body.
"I'd been going at it so hard for so many years. I think my body was under quite a lot of stress, and running on its adrenaline all the time," she says. "The Eastern doctors were like, 'Maybe that's why you're not conceiving, you need to just take a minute.'"
Waddingham got pregnant at age 39 and brought her daughter home on her 40th birthday, she told Glamour earlier this year.
"She is literally by a million miles my greatest achievement and my my little buddy," Waddingham, who is a single mom, tells TODAY.com. "I've literally carved out a tiny little best friend."
Waddingham's daughter, now 9, briefly appears in her mom's special, entitled "Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas" and available to stream.
At the beginning of the 45-minute show, she wishes her mom good luck before Waddingham goes onstage at the London Coliseum to sing a variety of beloved holiday classics.
"Mommy, break a leg, but don't actually because you'd really hurt yourself," she says, with her back facing the camera.
"Thanks for that, kiddo," Waddingham responds, before they each kiss their finger and bend it in farewell.
The London Coliseum also marks where Waddingham's mother often performed as a principal opera singer. Both of her mother's parents were singers, as well.
"That's what I mean, it's so much in me," Waddingham says of singing. "I don't remember ever deciding I was going to do that. I remember more finding out that people did office jobs and thinking, 'They what now?" she says. "Just unfathomable for me. Fabulous for the millions of people that want to be grownups. But I don't know how to be."
Waddingham's fellow “Ted Lasso” stars also made an appearance during her Christmas special, including Nick Mohammed (Nate), Phil Dunster (Jamie Tartt), Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard) and of course, Jason Sudeikis.
While the Christmas special was filmed in May, the cast also performed onstage together more recently at Steps of Faith’s Thundergong! charity show in Kansas City Nov. 11. Sudeikis and Waddingham sang a duet of "Shallow."
She appeared on TODAY just a few days later on Nov. 13.
"I don't usually sound this croaky," she told TODAY.com after her interview on the show.
Like Waddingham nearly a decade ago, her “Ted Lasso” character, the powerful AFC Richmond manager Rebecca, pursues motherhood during Season Three.
After a psychic tells Rebecca she will have a family and will be a mother, she seeks fertility treatment. A scene depicting a one-sided phone call with her doctor seemingly confirmed she cannot have children.
Like the future of the show, Rebecca’s journey towards motherhood is left unclear. In the final scenes, she encounters a young girl and her father, who turns out to be a character colloquially known as the “Dutch man.” Rebecca had a romantic dalliance with the character in an earlier episode “Amsterdam,” and Waddingham has described him as someone who makes Rebecca “feel sunshine again.”
Season Three concluded in May. In the end, Ted returned home to Kansas while back in England, new developments leave room for several potential spinoff shows.
"One thing’s for sure: Unless the man himself is down with that, then it’s not for me,” Waddingham said on TODAY Nov. 13, seemingly alluding to star Sudeikis, when asked about a Season Four or spinoff.