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

On the third episode of “The White Lotus” Season 2, a bunch of American vacationers visits a location from “The Godfather,” which ends up in a multi-generational debate concerning the patriarchy. (“Males love ‘The Godfather’ as a result of they really feel emasculated by fashionable society,” current faculty grad Albie tells his dad and grandfather.) However Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning traditional isn’t the one movie referenced in Sunday’s installment.

In actual fact, a hanging second that includes Aubrey Plaza below the steps of the Noto Cathedral is a shot-by-shot homage to a scene in Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 movie “L’avventura,” starring Monica Vitti (who was name-dropped by Jennifer Coolidge in final week’s episode). In “L’avventura,” a girl goes lacking, and, amidst their seek for her, the lady’s lover and greatest pal strike up a romance. In accordance with “The White Lotus” creator Mike White, “L’avventura” is a “very elliptical, mysterious film about an existential psychodrama.”

In “L’avventura” and “White Lotus,” respectively, Vitti and Plaza stroll across the identical courtyard and start to really feel the eyes of a pair dozen ogling males surrounding them. Discussing the scene he mimicked, White tells Selection, “As somebody who watched it younger, I simply was like, ‘Is that this what it’s like in Italy? Are the fellows like this there?’ They’re so blatant and aggressive together with her, and there’s this type of menace within the air.”

Monica Vitti in “L’avventura” (1960)

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

He provides that as a result of this episode of “Lotus” is about “women and men and a few of the traditional sexual politics dynamics,” it felt proper to “lean into the archetypal Italian males coming onto a girl on the road.” (Whereas the scenes in “L’avventura” and “White Lotus” are shot practically identically, you may most likely guess which one options the blunt commentary: “Numerous attractive dudes in Noto.”)

The concept to pay homage to Antonioni’s movie got here from cinematographer Xavier Grobet, as he and White have been capturing in Noto and realized they have been standing within the actual location the place they filmed “L’avventura.” With Episode 3 referencing that movie in addition to “The Godfather,” White says he discovered it match to color Sicily as an inspiration for traditional cinema, each Italian and American.

The thematic similarities between the 2 movies are additionally not misplaced on White, who says, “‘L’avventura’ is concerning the determined seek for the that means of life as a lot because the precise disappeared girl. Clearly, ‘White Lotus’ touches on the malaise of rich individuals and that sort of seek for that means whenever you’re simply lounging by an infinity pool.”

Whereas Season 1 of “Lotus” was shot fully on the 4 Seasons Maui in a COVID bubble, the second season allowed White to broaden the sequence exterior of the Italian lodge and into the town. “Sicily is so wealthy, it felt like it might be a criminal offense to not at the least attempt to expose individuals to a few of the wonderful cultural locations, these loopy palazzos and Noto as a city,” he says. “There’s a lot there to point out off.”

Taking pictures within the streets of Sicily and close by cities was each a inventive selection and a sensible one. “At one level we obtained the boot from the lodge,” he says. “I knew that getting in there was going to a be a sequence of weeks the place we wanted to shoot however couldn’t shoot on the lodge.”

As a way to immerse himself in Southern Italy, the showrunner moved to Sicily for a number of months earlier than they started capturing Season 2. White wished to get a greater sense of the town and the areas round it as a result of, he says, “In the event you go to Italy, you’re not going to simply keep on the lodge.”

Beneath, White solutions a few of Selection‘s burning questions to this point about Season 2 of “The White Lotus.”

How did you combine Jennifer Coolidge’s character into the brand new forged and new location? Do you see “White Lotus” as an ongoing anthology together with her character returning because the throughline?

As a result of the seasons are so thematically totally different, the places are totally different, the forged is usually totally different, it felt like it might make sense to have any individual be the connective tissue between the 2 seasons. And if we went to Italy with out Jennifer, she can be so mad [laughs]. Clearly individuals cherished her, and he or she’s my pal. So it simply made sense that it might be Jennifer. With Jennifer, I used to be like, “If we went to Italy, what would you need to do?” And it was principally just like the scene on this final episode that aired the place she was like, “I simply need to be on a Vespa with a number of scorching guys in sharp fits, making an attempt to love my cigarette.” In order that dialog constructed out this concept of her desirous to have this final Italian trip. Tanya is such a enjoyable character to jot down, and Jennifer is likely one of the highlights of my expertise on this present in addition to my profession. So I’m positively open to maintain going with Jennifer, if HBO, lets us preserve going typically.

Episode 3 ends with Cameron (Theo James) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) partying with Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò). As this season appears to be primarily centered on intercourse and intercourse politics, what conversations do you hope viewers will come away with concerning intercourse work?

You’ll need to see how the present resolves itself. However any dialog about intercourse work is fraught and thorny… I’m not making an attempt to be coy, I simply don’t need to give away the ending. I don’t look down on intercourse work, and on the identical time, I do know that usually with intercourse work comes exploitation. So it’s vital to point out, or at the least talk about, each side of that. I don’t have a moralistic disapproval of it, but it surely doesn’t usually occur divorced from some sort of context that includes exploitation. Normally people who find themselves engaged in it are doing it as a result of they want cash. They don’t do it simply because it’s enjoyable. However that’s not essentially at all times true. Typically individuals simply get into it. Michael Imperioli’s character, I don’t assume, usually acknowledges the context [of sex work]… Having [his son] Albie [played by Adam DiMarco] be capable of communicate to the points of it which can be extra sophisticated, extra ethically, that I don’t assume Michael’s character actually is participating. Having that be part of the dialog felt vital.

You mentioned beforehand that you simply wished the characters in Season 2 to really feel extra pure and “much less written” than in Season 1. How does that have an effect on your course of, and what particularly did you’re feeling was overwritten that you simply wished to regulate?

Nicely, it wasn’t essentially me criticizing the primary season. In Season 1, I knew we have been going to be in a bubble at a lodge, and there have been all these mandates on maintaining it a COVID-friendly manufacturing. There was extra stress to have the dialogue itself be the present. I didn’t have the power to have a lot of plot twists and a giant canvas. The banter was the occasion. And with all of the Twitter-speak of the primary season, I didn’t need to do one thing that we had already completed. This season, a few of the plot turns are the place the concepts of the season are coming from, and fewer concerning the precise content material of the conversations. It’s a special sort of strategy. So far as the characters, I wished to make it just a bit much less spiky and let their actions communicate for a few of the concepts I’m making an attempt to go for. What’s enjoyable for me is doing a shape-shifting present and making an attempt to not repeat. You have to have sufficient that it makes it really feel prefer it’s all of a bit, however the content material — and the shape itself — can sort of shift and be contemporary.

In Episode 1, Aubrey Plaza’s character says she doesn’t watch “Ted Lasso,” which grew to become an immediate meme on Twitter. Do you watch “Ted Lasso”?

I… [Laughs] I don’t actually watch “Ted Lasso,” to be sincere. However I haven’t been watching something. For the final 12 months, all I do is that this present. It’s not simply “Ted Lasso,” you might ask me any present and I’d most likely say “no.”

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