Not only did HBO’s “The White Lotus” feature one of the more twisted plots to come out of television last season, but the series — a hybrid of social satire and crime thriller set in a luxury Hawaiian resort — also featured one of the larger ensemble cast of the year . But among this vast cast of characters, three stand out to us here in the Envelope as the most important, most complex, and downright intriguing: hotel manager Armond (Murray Bartlett); Business tycoon Nicole (Connie Britton) and Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), who is grieving the loss of her mother. So we decided to keep things simple and ask everyone the same questions – to try to explore the deeper truths that are embedded in “Lotus”.
How did you feel about your character’s arc?
Murray Bartlett (via email): I was very happy about that. It was such a roller coaster ride and I loved being able to relate to that. Ultimately, there is nothing held back and being able to fully explore Armond’s emotions and impulses was very satisfying and fun.
Connie Briton (via phone): In the overall picture of the whole show, it was really satisfying. mike [White, creator-director-writer] and I spent a lot of time talking about the Arc, really trying to make sure she had her own journey. I love Nicole because I really knew who she is: we women think that we need to serve everyone else and make sure everyone else is doing well, and Nicole really suffered because of that. Certainly I recognized parts of me in her.
Jennifer Coolidge (via email): Tanya came from incredible fortune. She was severely neglected by her parents, who kept her away from the real world and made it impossible for her to function as a normal adult. Her cruel mother was the only person who ever truly loved Tanya, and her death marked the beginning of Tanya’s personal emancipation.
Many aspects of the story deal directly and indirectly with white privilege and class differences. What was your opinion on these aspects?
Coolidge: Class differences are highlighted in the first season, and Mike White makes them funny, terrifying, and sometimes heartbreaking. Speaking to her wealthy friend, Paula tells Olivia, “I guess it’s not stealing if you think it’s all yours already.” That line caught my eye and emphasized how Olivia’s white, upper-middle-class upbringing shaped her worldview Has. And despite Olivia’s friendship with Paula and the books she’s always reading, she has no sympathy for the struggles of Kai and others who work at the resort.
British: Therein lies the genius. There’s nothing I love more than a show that can really mirror the culture back on itself and capture exactly what our conversation is and then elevate it. Each character’s journey is screamingly recognizable, and that’s the fun and whimsy about it. We must see ourselves in real ways in order to rise and contribute to the cultural conversation.
Bartlett: These are issues that we urgently need to address, to really engage with and wake up to. “White Lotus” allows us to simultaneously laugh and be horrified at these issues in a way we cannot avoid. Hopefully, by telling these kinds of stories, we’ll be inspired to significantly change this toxic behavior and start treating each other better.
Which of the characters is most like you?
Coolidge: Mike White actually wrote the role of Tanya for me – at least that’s what he told me. I’m not rich like [her] and hopefully not so clueless, but Mike is very perceptive and has used many of my quirks and flaws that he finds amusing in writing your story.
Bartlett: All of these characters are present in all of us. It is a confronting thought to realize that we all have the ability to embody the worst aspects of our nature. But when we acknowledge that, we have the power to make different choices.
British: Nicole. I feel closest to her…but ultimately it makes me feel sympathy for all of them. I can’t tell you how many women have reached out to me [about Nicole]. I thought they might say, “This woman is so awful,” but they had a relationship with her. She is only limited in her world view.
What do you think your character did after the last episode?
Bartlett: I’m not sure if there is an alternate ending for Armond. I’d like to think he managed to find a small but pristine guesthouse in the jungle and find love and peace of mind, but maybe he’ll haunt the White Lotus forever.
Coolidge: Towards the end of the season, Tanya made some progress and was actually able to break out of the self-inflicted hell she’s been living in. I imagine and hope that she falls in love with her new romantic interest and maybe is able to find some happiness eventually.
British: I don’t think she’s changed that much. And that illustrates to me how difficult it is to change cultural systems that affect who we are individually. She’s holding on, and that’s this idea of white privilege and historical white experience: she’s holding on so tightly to the things that make us believe what we believe about ourselves. And that’s not easy to let go of.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-06-15/white-lotus-murray-bartlett-connie-britton-jennifer-coolidge 4 not too deep questions for the ‘White Lotus’ cast