Pack Your Bags and Check Out These The White Lotus Secrets

As the second season of The White Lotus sails into the Sicilian sunset on Dec. 11, we've rounded up all the best secrets about the show to tide you over until it returns for season three.

By Daniel Trainor Dec 12, 2022 1:00 AMTags
Watch: Tom Hollander & Leo Woodall React to THAT White Lotus Scene

The darkly mysterious second season of The White Lotus might be saying arrivederci—but there are still plenty of juicy secrets to uncover.

Season two of the Mike White-created HBO drama took the high-end resort escapades to Sicily, where Michael Imperioli, Theo James, Meghann Fahy, Aubrey Plaza, a returning Jennifer Coolidge and more checked into the fancy seaside Italian hotel—with a number of uncertain deaths looming in the air.

They followed in the footsteps of their season one predecessors—including Connie Britton, Sydney Sweeney, Steve Zahn and Alexandra Daddario—who checked into a White Lotus resort in Hawaii operated by Murray Bartlett who, among other shocking encounters, was accidentally killed at the hands of Jake Lacy

There's something murky in these White Lotus waters. 

While we debate our most dramatic season two theories and eagerly await a recently-confirmed season three—which creator White teased might take place at an international political conference—we decided to do a deep dive into some of the show's biggest secrets.

As it turns out, behind-the-scenes happenings on The White Lotus are just as outrageous as what you see on screen.

Renewed and Canceled TV Shows 2022 Guide

For our favorite titillating secrets from the first two seasons of The White Lotus, keep scrolling.

Jennifer Coolidge Almost Didn't Play Tanya

It's almost impossible to fathom now, but the role of Tanya McQuoid almost went to somebody other than Jennifer Coolidge

Jennifer, the only actor to bridge the gap between seasons one and two of The White Lotus, said she initially turned down the series because she had overloaded on carbs. "It was COVID, [I was] locked up with this very nice girl that I knew in New Orleans," Jennifer told People Sept. 1. "It was just very lonely times...and so she and I got obsessed with these vegan pizzas and we were eating a lot of them each day."

When creator Mike White offered her the part, she declined because she didn't think she was in "fighting shape."

Luckily, Jennifer's pizza-loving pal talked some sense into her.

"'You are out of your mind,'" Jennifer recalled her friend saying. "'I don't even think you know what this is. This is self-sabotage. I've been your friend all these years, this is incredible opportunity for you. Are you really going to f--k this up? Are you really going to f--k this up, Jennifer? This is the worst thing you could do to yourself. Just go, just f--king go do it. Are you ever going to be in shape?'"

The rest, as they say, is history—and Jennifer won an Emmy for her instantly-iconic performance in season one.

Mike White's Survivor Connection

First of all, did you know that White Lotus creator Mike White—who also wrote 2003's School of Rock and co-created HBO's Enlightened—competed on Survivor: David vs. Goliath?

Mike, who has also appeared on two seasons of The Amazing Race, finished in second place on the reality-competition series in 2018.

So, when he needed to cast a couple of actresses with plenty of experience sitting on a beach for the season two premiere, he looked no further than Survivor co-stars Angelina Keeley and Kara Kay. In the scene, the pair sit seaside as Daphne (Meghann Fahy) greets them before hopping into the water—and finding a dead body.

When Angelina and Kara received their scripts, they were shocked to find out that they were actually going to be a part of the story. 

"I was like, Maybe we're in the background, waving, drinking some cocktails," Kara told Vulture Oct. 30. "Then we got a draft of the script and realized, oh we have lines, we're going to say something. We're going to be acting."

Does That Voice Sound Familiar?

Mike White also reached into his past to cast the role of Dominic Di Grasso's (Michael Imperioli) estranged wife Abby, recruiting Enlightened star Laura Dern. If you missed her, though, you're forgiven—because we only hear Abby's voice.

In a brief, heated exchange with Dominic, Abby shouts an emphatic "f--k you" before hanging up. 

Must be nice to have an Oscar winner on speed dial.

A Haunted Hotel?

Much like season one, the entire cast actually stayed in the same hotel where they filmed during season two—which led to some spooky happenings.

"The monastery was haunted," Aubrey told E! News Oct. 30. "The hotel was haunted. It was the ghosts. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, or whatever."

However, Aubrey's claims might have just been a front for the pranks that she pulled on the rest of the cast throughout filming.

"I did a prank on one of the cast mates once when he didn't know," she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live Aug. 18. "I went into his room and I left this kind of witchy symbol made out of sticks on the floor."

The shenanigans, as it turned out, had consequences.

"I was flagged in the hotel and in the town," she added. "I'm not allowed to go back to Sicily."

Steve Zahn Picked His Penis

For a particularly outrageous scene in season one—in which Steve Zahn, who played Mark, flashes his penis to wife Nicole, played by Connie Britton—there was as much collaboration off-screen as there was between Steve and Connie.

"I remember when I got the script asking Mike if I was going to have to do full frontal. And he's like, ‘No, it's going to be a prosthetic,'" Steve told TheWrap. "I did have to approve the prosthetic that they used. He showed it to me first. And I was like, ‘Yeah, that'll do.'"

When it came time to film the scandalous moment, however, Steve wasn't even involved. "No, that was my body double," he said. "I asked if I was going to have to wear it and [Mike] goes, ‘Well, it's two hours in the makeup chair and we don't see your face so we don't need you to.'"

The magic of Hollywood!

More Prosthetic Penis Problems

In addition to the return of Tanya McQuoid, the second season of The White Lotus also featured the return of prosthetic penises. 

During a scene from the season's first episode, Theo James, who plays cocky financier Cameron, showed off his massive extremity while changing into a swimsuit in full view of Harper (Aubrey Plaza), his best friend's wife.

As it turns out, Theo also got some help.

"You go into these things and you have a conversation with the director and the producers and they go, ‘OK, for this, we're going to use a prosthetic. We're going to use something,'" the actor said on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Dec. 2. "And you say, 'OK, that sounds good.'"

Theo insisted that he didn't want the prosthetic to be "too distracting," but as viewers know now, it was hard to talk about anything else after the episode aired.

"We get to set and [the make-up designer] has got like a hammer or something," Theo joked. "I mean, it's bigger than that. It's like she stole it off a donkey in the field. I mean, the thing is ginormous."

All things considered, not the worst problem to have.

A Cinematic Homage

Eagle-eyed cinephiles noticed a very specific reference during a season two scene in which Harper, played by Aubrey Plaza, walks the streets of Noto as a group of Italian men surround her and begin to suffocate her with their wide-eyed flirtations.

The scene is a direct reference to the 1960 film L'Avventura, where the same thing happens to Claudia, played by Monica Vitti.

You can check out the side-by-side comparison here.

Stalker Alert!

On the topic of being stalked, Aubrey had to deal with a real-life version in the form of her co-star Haley Lu Richardson—who plays Tanya's assistant Portia—years before they both checked into The White Lotus together.

"I know she has a lot of crazed fans, but I'm probably one of the top three," Haley said on Jimmy Kimmel Live Dec. 5. "I legitimately stalked her. I didn't just stalk her on social media—like, I showed up to places I was not invited, knowing she was there. I got close to her cousins and her friends so that I would be invited into her life. And it worked!"

Uh, OK.

Haley went on to reveal that she actually managed to get invited to Aubrey's birthday party one year—which didn't exactly go very well.

"She saw me from across the bar, and she just went 'You,' and walked away," Haley recalled. "It was the best thing that's ever happened to me."

But honestly, what else could you possibly want from an interaction with Aubrey Plaza?

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