Being part of The White Lotus ensemble is a gift for an actor. The first season of Mike White’s HBO hit – a sharp satire on the rich, set at a luxury Hawaiian resort – was populated with brilliantly-written characters, both detestable and deeply recognisable, drawn in all-too-human shades. And while it’s only Jennifer Coolidge’s magnetically chaotic character Tanya who’s returning for Season 2, relocating the action to The White Lotus’ Sicilian branch, White has assembled another excellent ensemble for the latest batch of episodes. Among the players this time are Tom Hollander, Aubrey Plaza, Theo James, F. Murray Abraham – and none other than The Sopranos legend Michael Imperioli.
Imperioli’s part in the series is one with direct resonance for White. Here, he’s playing Dominic Di Grasso, a man who’s travelled to Sicily with his father Bert, played by Abraham – and their story is inspired by a trip White himself took with his own father to explore their Swedish heritage. “[Mike and I] spoke about the importance of making peace with our parents,” Imperioli tells Empire in the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever issue, teasing an arc that goes to serious, personal places. “Life is short and fleeting and fragile. Maybe there’s hope to have some kind of reconciliation before the end.”
It’s the kind of move that’s emblematic of the cutting but truthful writing that White has made his signature. “Mike is fearless,” says Imperioli, praising his showrunner. “It’s dangerous right now [in the world] to speak your mind, because everybody’s so scared of saying the wrong thing and questioning new ideas. He’s presenting these people warts and all.” Hey, at least at the White Lotus, there are spa treatments for that.
Read Empire’s full feature on The White Lotus Season 2 – going on set and speaking to White and the cast – in the November 2022 issue, on sale Thursday 29 September and available to order online here. The White Lotus returns for Season 2 on Sky Atlantic and NOW from 31 October.