When Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Sydney Sweeney and Alexandra Daddario were approached for The White Lotus, they jumped at the opportunity to work with Mike White on location in Hawaii, and to explore all facets of their richly drawn characters.
“It’s an actor’s dream to have [this kind of] roller coaster ride with a character,” Bartlett told Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro today at Contenders Television. “It was a dream dropped in my lap, really.”
The first season of the HBO dark comedy created, directed and written by White is set in a tropical Hawaiian resort, following the exploits of various guests and employees over the span of a week. Bartlett plays resort manager Armond, with Britton as vacationing CFO Nicole Mossbacher, Sweeney as her sardonic daughter Olivia, and Daddario as Rachel, a journalist whose recent marriage to real estate agent Shane (Jake Lacy) is already falling apart.
From the perspective of Britton and Daddario, part of what made the series so compelling was White’s gift for observing human behavior. “Mike, I feel, finds joy in the disdain he has for human nature,” said Daddario. “I just think it translates in this amazing way because he loves human beings, but sees how awful and flawed they are at the same time, and it’s a really interesting combination.”
Sweeney said that White “perfectly” brought every character’s voice to life, such that no ad-libbing on set was necessary. “The writing was so perfect for every single character,” she added, “as if he has lived that.”
Elevating White’s work, of course, was the show’s set of stellar performances. Bartlett said that the chemistry he found with his co-stars was exciting, given the “fire” and “sizzle” it brought to scenes. “It was such a fantastically talented group of people, but also a really wonderful group of people,” he said, “which was lucky because we were quarantined together and couldn’t leave.”
While The White Lotus was initially presented as a limited series, it was renewed for a second season in August, after debuting to critical acclaim and a #1 ranking on HBO. The next edition will follow a different group of vacationers as they book their stay at an Italian White Lotus property and settle in temporarily amongst its inhabitants.
When asked what he knows about Season 2 and if there’s any possibility he might appear in it, Bartlett joked, “It’s a ghost story.”
Britton was tight-lipped, noting that “it’s all very under wraps,” with Daddario sharing that White had discussed a future “spinoff” episode featuring Rachel and Jake in conversation with a couple on a boat. Still, she said, “my agent hasn’t reached out yet.”
The White Lotus‘ first season ensemble also included Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Hechinger, Brittany O’Grady, Natasha Rothwell, Steve Zahn and Lukas Gage. Season 2 will see Coolidge reprise her role as the troubled Tanya McQuoid, with F. Murray Abraham, Adam DiMarco, Meghann Fahy, Tom Hollander, Michael Imperioli, Theo James, Aubrey Plaza, Haley Lu Richardson, Will Sharpe, Leo Woodall, Beatrice Grannó, Sabrina Impacciatore and Simona Tabasco joining the cast. White exec produces the series alongside David Bernad and Nick Hall, with Mark Kamine serving as co-executive producer.
Check out the panel video above.
Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios and Michter’s. Partners include Desalto, Film AlUla, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Jason Mizrahi Design, ModMD, The American Pavilion, and Tidelli.