Mike White's social satire is back with an all-new installment, once again led by Jennifer Coolidge.
Following the surprise success of The White Lotus, a tragicomedy about the overlapping lives of guests and employees at a luxury resort, the HBO limited series created by Mike White was renewed for a second season. The new episodes, which kicks off with the premiere on Oct. 30, will once again feature an all-star cast led by Jennifer Coolidge, who won an Emmy for her turn as the grief-stricken Tanya McQuoid.
With anticipation building for the new season, which is dubbed The White Lotus: Sicily, here’s everything we know about the ensemble cast of characters, what to expect from Coolidge’s return and what the cast has told us about what to expect from White’s social satire about another group of vacationers temporarily settling in among the local inhabitants of another luxury hotel property.
Who’s Who in Season 2
Joining the franchise in season is another ensemble of star performers, with F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli and Adam DiMarco as three generations of Italian Americans, the elderly Bert Di Grasso (Abraham), his Hollywood producer son, Dominic (Imperioli), and grandson, the recent college graduate Albie (DiMarco), all traveling together.
Other hotel guests include Aubrey Plaza as Harper Spiller, described as “a woman on vacation with her husband and his friends,” with her husband, Ethan, played by Will Sharpe and their travel companions being Cameron Babcock (Theo James) and his wife and stay-at-home mom Daphne (Meghann Fahy); Haley Lu Richardson as Tanya’s put-upon assistant named Portia; a gay English expat named Quentin (Tom Hollander) as well as his nephew, a “magnetic” guest named Jack (Leo Woodall).
Also at the resort are two Italian friends, Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò), while Sabrina Impacciatore takes on the Murray Bartlett-inspired role as the luxury location’s manager named Valentina.
"I love Harper. I love that character. I totally related to her. She comes on really strong and has this kind of hard outer shell," Plaza told ET, noting that "she's got a really vulnerable side to her" that will be revealed as the season progresses. The same goes for Valentina. "At the beginning of this show, she's such a bitch," Impacciatore also shared. "But then, I could work on the other side of the character, like the secret character."
What to Expect of Coolidge's Return
As mentioned before, Coolidge is back, leading the cast of season 2 as Tanya. She is also joined by her new beau turned husband, Greg (Jon Gries), a fellow guest she met at the Hawaii resort in season 1 who is not happy that his wife has also brought along her assistant (see above).
Before seeing any scripts, Coolidge told ET all she wanted for her character was "a lot of romance and sex in this next one," explaining that Tanya "didn’t get enough of that in the first one." While how much sex Tanya gets in the new season remains to be seen, one thing is for sure: there's a lot of tension surrounding the situation she, Greg and Portia find themselves in.
After winning an Emmy for her performance in season 1, Coolidge "had an enormous amount of work," Cries said of his co-star's screen time in season 2, which sees her not only dealing with Greg and Portia but making friends with a gay, English expat Quentin (Tom Hollander) as the guests' lives and storylines start to come together.
And when it comes to Coolidge’s return, "she’s exactly what you want her to be," Plaza teased.
When the series was first renewed, HBO said the new installment would follow “a different group of vacationers” with the network initially not confirming Coolidge’s return or if she was playing the same character. Although it has since been confirmed that she is in fact playing the same person as in season 1, the lack of clarity may have had something to do with various awards season rules, which dictate a TV project’s eligibility.
In order to still qualify as a limited series, at least at the Primetime Emmys, the new installment must “tell a complete, non-recurring story, and not have an ongoing storyline or main characters in subsequent seasons.” Now that season 1 has made it through the 2022 ceremony, where it won 11 awards, including the Emmy for Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series, it will likely compete in the drama series categories moving forward, much like Big Little Lies did after it was renewed for a second season.
Who Else Is Coming Back
In addition to Coolidge, Gries is the only confirmed season 1 actor slated to appear in the new episodes. Despite earning accolades for their respective roles, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, Fred Hechinger, Jake Lacy, Brittany O'Grady, Natasha Rothwell, Sydney Sweeney, Steve Zahn and Molly Shannon are not coming back.
Additionally, Bartlett, who also won an Emmy for his manic performance in season 1, sadly cannot return to the franchise unless "we like go back in time or something," he said. And that seems like an unlikely turn for the series.
According to New York Magazine, the door isn’t officially closed on the others yet. If the series gets renewed for another season, White "has also imagined the possibility of bringing back season-one characters in, say, Japan." That said, many of the stars have told ET they are open to working on the series again.
"I would absolutely jump at the chance to play [spa manager Belinda] again. I think there’s so many stories to tell," Rothwell previously said, later adding, "I don’t know what’s going to happen but I know I will follow Mike White to the ends of the earth." Britton, meanwhile, said that "with any luck maybe I’ll be in another season."
After the season 1 finale, Sweeney said there had been conversations with the show about the possibility of returning, whether it was as a new character or as Olivia was not specified. Either way, the Euphoria star is open to whatever direction the creator decides to take things. "I’m just so excited for Mike," she said at the time. "Mike’s writing is just so much fun and so incredible. And whatever he brings to season 2 will just elevate it even more and be a blast to watch."
What to Expect From Season 2
In the same interview with New York Magazine, White described season 2 as "a bedroom farce with teeth," with the series once again exploring what happens when a group of tourists make a lasting impact on each other’s lives while staying at one of the luxury White Lotus properties.
Promising an explosive experience, both Plaza and Sharpe described the new episodes as "volcanic," while Imperioli teased that "a lot does take place in the hotel during the show." There is also "a lot of sexuality," he added. In fact, he and James are just two of many performers who strip down in the new episodes. "It's funny 'cause we're all kind of naked," James explained. "It's a holiday show, really."
Of course, there’s "a lot to live up to," Plaza said. But she, like the rest of the cast, was confident in White’s creative direction. "Mike is so good about making the second season different, you know. It’s still White Lotus but now it’s in Italy," she shared. "So, it has a totally different vibe and so, I think people are gonna be surprised."
"It still has that essential Mike White tone about it. It's still witty and satirical of certain sets in society," Sharpe offered, with Abraham teasing that season 2 "is a richer ride and, I think, a little deeper."
Season 2 of The White Lotus premieres Sunday, Oct. 30 on HBO and HBO Max.
'The White Lotus' Stars Aubrey Plaza and Michael Imperioli Promise a 'Volcanic,' 'Sexy' Season 2 (Exclusive)