More Sex Behind Closed Doors: Mike White and Actors Discuss That Hot 'White Lotus' Scene

Tuesday November 29, 2022
Originally published on November 28, 2022

Leo Woodall on "The White Lotus"
Leo Woodall on "The White Lotus"  

On the latest episode of "The White Lotus," transgressive gay sex became the show's highlight. Writer/director Mike White and actors Tom Hollander and Leo Woodall explained it.

It took four episodes to bring the rich gays into the mix on "The White Lotus," but it was well worth the wait. On last week's episode, English millionaire Quentin (Tom Hollander) met up with Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), who was moping because her husband Greg (Jon Gries) had left her in Sicily for important business in the States. The nature of that business has yet to be defined, but when she overheard him on a phone call, his motives appeared to be shady.

Quentin acts as a most welcome distraction for Tanya when he sits down with her at his private bungalow at the resort and patiently listens to what turns out to be her life story. To cheer her up, he invites her and her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) to visit his luxurious villa in Palermo, supplying transportation on his luxurious yacht. Also part of Quentin's very gay circle of friends is Jack (Leo Woodall), his hunky nephew along for the trip, who hooks up with Portia, much to the chagrin of the sweet American tourist Albie (Adam DiMarco) with whom she had been flirting.

Spoiler alert: Jack is very at home with Quentin and his gay entourage, and on the most recent episode — "That's Amore" — it became clear as to why. At the conclusion of the episode a restless Tanya hears some noises in the villa and looks around to find out why, and she discovers Jack putting it to Quentin. Apparently, "nephew" is just a euphemism.

The moment recalled the Season 1 scene where Armand (Murray Bartlett) is caught rimming Shane (Lukas Gage) in a resort office. "Both feature a character walking in on gay sex behind closed doors, and both occur two episodes before the finale," Variety reported in a conversation with the show's showrunner Mike White, who wrote and directed every episode this season.

"There's a pleasure to me as a guy who is gay-ish to make gay sex transgressive again," White said. "It's dirty... men are having sex and you have this 'Psycho' music underneath. It just amuses me."

White continued: "I just think transgressive sex is sexier. I guess I'm old school. There's this Gothic vibe of walking through a haunted hotel or haunted house and people are having sex behind closed doors."

Whether or not Jack is really Quentin's nephew (which would be an additional plot twist) is yet to be determined. White is mum on the subject. "Well, you'll have to see," he told Variety.

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Hollander knew of the sex scene before taking the part. Woodall didn't learn of it until he received the episode's script. "When I found out about the scene, I was speechless for a while," Woodall explained to Variety. "I'm such a huge fan of Tom's, and when I heard that he was going to be playing my uncle, I thought, 'That is unreal.' And then when I found out that I was going to shag him as well — that was kind of surreal. Anything that Mike White does with this show is kind of perfect, so there were no reservations about it. It felt like an incredibly 'wow' moment."

Woodall continued, saying that the scene was shot on a closed set with an "incredible" intimacy coordinator, Miriam Lucia. After figuring out the logistics of the scene, they shot it from two different angles.

"It's more technical than anything else when you're actually doing it," Hollander said. "You know, 'Is this the right angle? Does this look right?' But there was a mutually respectful energy between us, too. And on the set, the production was very tender around those moments. It certainly was around that one. We just wanted to do it right."

Hollander said that an added touch was that they "sprayed down with some stuff to make us look like we were sweating."

"Oily stuff," Woodall interjected.

"There is fantasy, and you're going through your head going, 'I hope I look good.' But when they say action, in a way that goes, and you actually just find yourself thinking, 'I want this to be a true representation of an intimate moment between two people.' You just want to do it right," Hollander added.

When asked whether they've warned friends or family about what's to come, Woodall said he told his dad not to let his 6-year-old brother watch the episode, but other than that he hasn't "told a single soul about it, because I want to see their faces — or at least get their reactions without any prompt."

And Woodall was cheeky in more ways than one in this week's episode. In the opening moments he is seen lying down ass up and sleeping as Portia leaves his bed after a one night stand. His only motion is to scratch his ass. The episode ends with him standing naked pounding Hollander.