‘The White Lotus’: Mike White on Sex Work, Coolidge and Italian Cinema

In the third episode of “The White Lotus” Season 2, a group of American tourists visited a place from “The Godfather,” leading to a public debate about patriarchy. (“Guys love ‘The Godfather’ because they’re fascinated by modern society,” said Albie, a college senior.

In fact, a stunning moment featuring Aubrey Plaza under the steps of the Noto Cathedral is a tribute shot to a scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 film “L’avventura,” starring Monica Vitti (which was signed by Jennifer Coolidge. in the last week). In “L’avventura,” a woman goes missing, and in the midst of their search for her, a woman’s love and best friend begin an adventure. According to “The White Lotus” producer Mike White, “L’avventura” is a very elliptical, mysterious film based on a psychodrama.

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In “L’avventura” and “White Lotus,” respectively, Vitti and Plaza walk around the same yard and begin to see the faces of twelve men surrounding them. He was discussing how he modeled it, White said different, “As a young viewer, I was like, ‘Is this what Italy is like? Are the people there like that?’ They were kind of intimidating to him, and there was this kind of intimidation in the air.

Monica Vitti in “L’avventura” (1960)

Aubrey Plaza in “The White Lotus” (2022)
Fabio Lovino/HBO

He added that since this part of “Lotus” is about “men and women and some of the usual political figures,” it is appropriate to “rely on the archetypal Italian men who come to a woman in the street.” (Although the scenes in “L’avventura” and “White Lotus” were shot at the same time, you can probably guess what is shown in the preview: “There are many horny men in Noto.”)

The idea to improve Antonioni’s film came from the cinematographer Xavier Grobet, while he and White were shooting in Noto and they realized that they were standing in the exact place where the film was shot ” L’avventura.” With Episode 3 referencing that film and “The Godfather,” White says it’s fitting to paint Sicily as an inspiration for classical, Italian and American cinema.

The similarities between the two films are not lost on White, who said, “L’avventura” is about finding the meaning of life as a woman who is truly lost. Of course, ‘White Lotus’ is about rich people’s disease and that search for meaning while you’re lounging by an infinity pool.

Although Season 1 of “Lotus” was shot at the Four Seasons Maui in a COVID box, the second season allowed White to expand the story outside the Italian hotel in the city. “Sicily is so rich, it’s considered a crime not to try to show people some of the amazing cultural places, these crazy palazzos and Noto as a city,” he said. “There’s a lot to show.”

Shooting in the streets of Sicily and nearby towns is a smart choice and a practical one. “Sometimes we got the shoe from the hotel,” he said. “I knew going there that we would have to shoot for a few weeks but we couldn’t shoot at the hotel.”

To immerse himself in Southern Italy, the show moved to Sicily for a few months before they started shooting Season 2. White wanted to get to know the city better and places around it because, he says, “If you go to Italy, you don’t just stay in a hotel.

Below, White responds to some of the differentQuestions about Season 2 of “The White Lotus.”

How did you integrate the character of Jennifer Coolidge into the new box and the new location? Do you see “White Lotus” as a comic whose character returns as a line?

Since the seasons have a different concept, different locations, different cast, it seems appropriate to be a link between the two seasons. And if we go to Italy without Jennifer, she will be very upset [laughs]. Obviously people love him, and he’s my friend. So, he just thought it was Jennifer. With Jennifer, I was like, “If we go to Italy, what do you want to do?” And it’s like the scene in this last episode that aired where she’s like, “I just want to get on a Vespa with a lot of hot guys in tight clothes, trying to like it.” to my cigarette.” So this conversation created this idea of ​​his wanting to have this last Italian vacation. Tanya is a fun character to write, and Jennifer is one of the highlights of my experience on this show and my career. So I’m open to continuing with Jennifer, if HBO, let us continue to run normally.

Episode 3 ends with Cameron (Theo James) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) partying with Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò). It looks like this season will focus a lot on sexuality and gender politics, what conversations do you hope viewers will have about sexuality?

You need to know how the test resolves itself. But any conversation about sexual activity is difficult and dangerous… I’m not trying to be dramatic, I don’t want to give away the result. I do not look down on sexual activity, but at the same time, I know that often with sexual activity comes exploitation. So it’s important to show, or discuss, both sides of that. I don’t agree with the culture, but it is often not divorced from some kind of context regarding its use. Usually people who work are doing it because they want money. They don’t do it for fun. But that’s not always true. Sometimes people just go inside. The style of Michael Imperioli, I don’t think, often accepts the context [of sex work]… Have got [his son] Albie [played by Adam DiMarco] you can talk about aspects of it that are more complicated, better, I don’t think Michael’s character is really about it. Being part of the conversation is important.

You’ve said before that you wanted the characters in Season 2 to feel more natural and “less scripted” than Season 1. How does that affect your process, and what do you have? Think it’s written that you want to edit?

Well, I didn’t criticize the first season. In Season 1, I realized that we were going to be in a hotel in a hotel, and all these orders were in order to maintain a COVID-friendly operation. The show itself was more serious than the conversation itself. I didn’t have access to a lot of screws and a large towel. The incident was a joke. And with all the Twitter comments from the first season, I don’t want to do anything we did. In this season, one of the changes is where the ideas of the season, and less about the actual content of the conversations. It’s a different kind of work. Like the pictures, I want to be a little less spiky and let their work speak for some of the ideas I’m trying to get across. What’s fun for me is doing a physical transformation show and trying not to do it again. You have to have enough to feel that it’s all part of it, but the experience – and the character itself – can be transformative and new.

In Chapter 1, Aubrey Plaza’s character says she doesn’t watch “Ted Lasso,” which became an instant meme on Twitter. Are you watching “Ted Lasso”?

i am… [Laughs] I don’t really watch “Ted Lasso,” to be honest. But I didn’t look at anything. For the last year, this show is all I have to do. It’s not just “Ted Lasso,” you can ask me any show and I’ll say “no.”


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