'The White Lotus' Stars Aubrey Plaza and Michael Imperioli Promise a 'Volcanic' Season 2 (Exclusive)

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The White Lotus, creator Mike White's Emmy-winning HBO social satire, builds on the promise of season 1 and delivers an absorbing second season supported by eccentric, award-worthy performances and character-driven stories that simmer with humor and tension until they boil over in unexpected ways. 

Echoing that sentiment is a star-studded ensemble cast, who tells ET that the new episodes are "volcanic." Promising an explosive experience, both Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe, who play a married couple, Harper and Ethan Spiller, forced to navigate politeness and politics during a trip with another couple, quip in unison that season 2 is like a volcano waiting to erupt, which is an apt description considering the story's location.  

The White Lotus Season 2

For Harper, a role written specifically for Plaza, that's finding herself questioning why Ethan's cocky college friend, Cameron Babcock (Theo James), and his wife, Daphne (Meghann Fahy), invited them to the Sicilian-based luxury resort. It's a standout part that plays into the actress' best strengths and gives her plenty to do. "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 says, before adding that "she's got a really vulnerable side to her" that will be revealed as the season progresses.  

She's not the only one peeling back layers this season. As the luxury location’s manager named Valentina, Italian actress Sabrina Impacciatore is tasked with taking on the much put upon, Murray Bartlett-inspired role from season 1. "At the beginning of this show, she's such a b**ch," says Impacciatore, who is sure to be this year's breakout star. "But then, I could work on the other side of the character, like the secret character," which is something that's hinted at in the beginning before fully revealing itself later on. 

In fact, everyone's true colors start to come out as the tension between characters grows. James even says episode 5 is when Cameron's intentions are addressed head on, especially after a much more ambiguous scene involving one of his travel companions takes place in the premiere. "There's a purpose to it," he says of the moment that will leave audiences asking, "Did that just really happen?" 

The White Lotus Season 2

"A lot does take place in the hotel during the show," says Imperioli, who plays Dominic, a Hollywood producer on an ill-advised trip with his father, the elderly Bert Di Grasso (F. Murray Abraham) and son, the recent college graduate Albie (Adam DiMarco), who find themselves debating how each of them raised the other and treat the women in their family.

Their family dynamic is just one of several types of relationships explored in season 2. "Its focus is something different, more about relationships," Sharpe offers. 

Another major relationship at play is the marriage between Tanya McQuiod and Greg Hunt, played by season 1 stars Jennifer Coolidge and Jon Gries. After falling in love in Hawaii, the two head to Sicily for their honeymoon. But their romantic getaway is disrupted by growing tensions in their marriage and the presence of Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), who Tanya insisted on bringing, much to her husband's chagrin.

After winning an Emmy for her performance in season 1, Coolidge "had an enormous amount of work," Gries says 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. 

But for all the tension and revelations, there's "a lot of sexuality," Imperioli says, with Plaza adding that season 2 "is a little sexy." In fact, it's more than that, with James not being the only performer who strips down in the new episodes. "It's funny 'cause we're all kind of naked," James says, explaining, "It's a holiday show, really."

That said, "It still has that essential Mike White tone about it. It's still witty and satirical of certain sets in society," Sharpe says, with Abraham teasing that season 2 "is a richer ride and, I think, a little deeper."

The White Lotus season 2 premieres Sunday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.



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