‘The White Lotus’ Cast on Creating an “Extended Family” On the Set of Season 2

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Ahead of the Oct. 30 premiere of The White Lotus’ second season, the cast of the anthology series had nothing but praise for their fellow co-stars and creator/showrunner Mike White.

While season one focused on wealth and privilege at a resort in Maui, season two of the Emmy-winning HBO series follows multiple intertwining love stories in Sicily. Returning castmembers Jennifer Coolidge and Jon Gries are joined by Theo James, Meghann Fahy, Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, Adam di Marco and Haley Lu Richardson, among others.

James says he was initially drawn to the role of Cameron Bishop because of the way White circumvented expectations about couples in the script and how he found a way to make the audience empathize with even the most “sociopath”-esque characters, like his.

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“Cameron is, in many ways, a dangerous person — charming but you know, on the edge of a sociopath,” James told The Hollywood Reporter. “But he’s also quite loving and in love with his wife, which presents a dichotomy for the characters around him and the audience, because he’s not just an asshole. He’s entertaining, and he’s a bit of a puppy dog in some ways, but then he’s also calculating and very dangerous.”

The Time Traveler’s Wife actor added that White also accomplished something similar in the first hit season of The White Lotus by setting up an understanding of a character, whether audiences like them or not, and then changes viewers’ opinions in the subsequent episode.

“Mike makes you judge in one episode and then circumvents in the next, and that’s what he’s so good at,” James continued. “For me, the most empathetic characters are Meghann’s and Adam’s characters. Although they make bad decisions and are damaged, there’s a way into them that you kind of understand the most.”

Coolidge, who plays fan-favorite character Tanya, echoed that sentiment and acknowledged that the way White wrote her character is what makes people love her so much.

“Mike sort of created this great character. I’d like to take credit, but I think what he wrote just sort of came to life, so he has so much to do with it,” Coolidge told THR. “I think it’s kind of fun to see flawed people on the screen. I like to see flawed people because I could relate.”

Gries, who returned to The White Lotus as Tanya’s now-husband Greg, found the relationship storyline in season two refreshing and enjoyed watching the couples’ dynamics change throughout the season.

Being the only two castmembers coming back for round two was a “fascinating” experience for the pair.

“We’d be out at dinner, I look around and just go like, ‘Wow, these kids have the world by the gonads,’” Coolidge said. “They’re having this great adventure. Some of them are at the very beginning of huge careers. And there wasn’t one person that didn’t deserve to be [there].”

Gries and Coolidge weren’t the only veteran actors on set, however. Michael Imperioli and F. Murray Abraham joined the series for its second season as Dominic and Bert, respectively. Abraham felt the cast and crew meshed really well throughout the four-month shoot in Italy.

“Not only the cast but the crew as well, it was like an extended family,” Abraham told THR. “I promise you this does not happen very often. And it was a treat.”

Even with some of the actors in the show being earlier in their careers, Abraham felt they were absolute pros.

“It didn’t feel like you had to give anyone a note or to suggest anything, although, if you felt like suggesting something, it was a lot of freedom,” he said. “There was no problems on the set.”

As for the younger actors, it was a surreal experience getting to work opposite veterans in the industry and observing the way they do their jobs.

Richardson, who plays Tanya’s assistant Portia, felt like she had to quickly get over the fact that the majority of her scenes were with Coolidge, someone she’s idolized for some time.

“You just have to be present in the scene,” Richardson told THR. “I’m always trying to learn from people, especially people that have really been around, and Jennifer is iconic.”

‘The White Lotus’ Cast on Creating an “Extended Family” On the Set of Season 2

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