In the third episode of “White Lotus” Season 2, a group of American tourists visit a location from “The Godfather” that leads to a multi-generational discussion about patriarchy. (“Men love The Godfather because they feel powerless in today’s society,” Albee, a recent college graduate, tells his father and grandfather.) But Francis Ford Coppola’s Oscar-winning classic isn’t the only film referenced in Sunday’s episode.
In fact, the striking moment showing Aubrey Plaza on the steps of Noto Cathedral is a shot homage to a scene from Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1960 film L’avventura starring Monica Vitti (whose name was dropped by Jennifer Coolidge). in last week’s episode). In L’avventura, a woman goes missing and the woman’s lover and best friend become romantically involved in the search for her. According to White Lotus creator Mike White, L’avventura is “a very elliptical, mysterious film about existential psychodrama.”
In “L’avventura” and “White Lotus”, respectively, Vitti and Plaza walk in a courtyard and begin to feel the eyes of several dozen men surrounding them. Discussing the scene he imitated, White says Diversity, “As someone who saw him as a young man, I was like, ‘Is it like that in Italy?’ Are there guys like that?’ They’re so open and aggressive about it and there’s such a sense of danger in the air.”
He believes that since this episode of Lotus is about “men and women and some of the dynamics of classic sexual politics,” it’s okay to “lean on the archetypal Italian man walking up to a woman on the street.” (Although the scenes in L’avventura and White Lotus are shot almost identically, you can guess which one has the obvious observation that “Noto has a lot of guys with horns”.)
The idea to pay tribute to Antonioni’s film came from cinematographer Xavier Grobet, who realized that while he and White were filming in Noto, they were standing in the same location where they shot L’avventura. Episode 3 refers to this film as well as The Godfather, and White sees fit to draw Sicily as an inspiration for classic Italian and American cinema.
The thematic similarities between the two films don’t go unnoticed by White, who says, “’L’avventura’ is about searching for the meaning of life, like a woman who’s gone missing. Clearly, ‘White Lotus’ touches on the restlessness of the wealthy and the kind of search for meaning that comes with lounging by an infinity pool.”
While Season 1 of “Lotus” was filmed entirely in Maui during the COVID bubble, Season 2 allowed White to expand the series beyond the Italian hotel and into the city. “Sicily is so rich, it would be a crime not to at least introduce people to the amazing cultural sites, these crazy palazzos, and Noto as a city,” he says. “There are so many to choose from.”
Shooting on the streets of Sicily and nearby towns was a creative and practical choice. “At one point we got boots from the hotel,” he says. “I knew it was going to take weeks to get there, where we would have to film, but we couldn’t film at the hotel.”
In order to penetrate Southern Italy, the series moved to Sicily for a few months before filming began on Season 2. White wanted to get to know the city and the surrounding area better because, he says, “If you go here. Italy, you don’t just stay in a hotel.”
Below, White answers some questions DiversityThe burning questions about “White Lotus” season 2 so far.
How did you integrate Jennifer Coolidge’s character into a new cast and a new location? Do you see White Lotus as an ongoing anthology, with the character returning as a subplot?
Since the seasons were thematically different, the locations were different, the cast was different, it seemed to make sense to have someone who was the connective tissue between the two seasons. And if we went to Italy without Jennifer, she would be very mad [laughs]. People obviously love him, he’s my friend. So it made no sense that it would be Jennifer. With Jennifer, I said, “If we go to Italy, what would you like to do?” It was basically like the scene in the last episode where he said, “I want to be with a bunch of hot guys in sharp suits who want to smoke on a Vespa.” So this conversation sparked the idea that he wanted an Italian vacation. Tanya is such a fun character to write, and Jennifer is one of the highlights of my experience and career on this show. So I’m willing to continue working with Jennifer if HBO allows me to continue in general.
Episode 3 ends with Cameron (Theo James) and Ethan (Will Sharp) going out with Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Granno). This season seems to focus mainly on sex and the politics of sex, what kind of stories do you hope viewers will tell about sex work?
You’ll have to see how the show pans out. But any conversation about sex work is difficult and thorny… I don’t want to be shy, I just don’t want to give up. I don’t despise sex work, and I know that sex work often comes with exploitation. So it’s important to show or at least discuss both sides of it. I don’t have a moral objection to it, but it doesn’t happen very often when it’s separated from some kind of context that involves exploitation. Usually people who do this do it because they need money. They don’t just do it for fun. But this is not always true. Sometimes people just get into it. Michael Imperioli’s character, in my opinion, often fails to acknowledge the context [of sex work]… there is [his son] Albie [played by Adam DiMarco] From his more complex, ethical perspective, I don’t think Michael’s character is really compelling. It was important to be part of the conversation.
You said you wanted the characters in Season 2 to be more natural and “less scripted” than Season 1. How does this affect your process and have you ever thought that something you want to adjust has been overwritten?
Testing the first season was optional. In Season 1, I knew we were going to be in a bubble in the hotel, and there were all these mandates to keep it in production against COVID. There was more pressure for the dialogue itself to be the show. I didn’t have the opportunity to twist the plot a lot and be a big canvas. The story was a story. I didn’t want to do what I had already done when I was talking on Twitter in the first season. Some of the plot twists this season are where the ideas for the season come up and less about the actual content of the stories. This is a different approach. As for the characters, I wanted to tease it out a bit and let their actions express some of the ideas I was trying to get at. The fun for me is to create a shape-shifting show and try not to repeat it. You should have enough of it so that it all feels like one piece, but the content and form itself can change and be new.
In Episode 1, Aubrey Plaza’s character says she won’t watch the movie “Ted Lasso,” which became an instant meme on Twitter. Do you watch Ted Lasso?
i… [Laughs] To be honest, I don’t watch Ted Lasso at all. But I did not observe anything. For the past one year, I have been exclusively involved in this show. It’s not just Ted Lasso, you can ask any show and I’d say no.