The White Lotus stars tease a 'chaotic' season 2

Haley Lu Richardson and Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus
The White Lotus exclusively available on HBO and HBO Max October 30, available from October 31 on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW (Image credit: HBO/Sky)

It’s time for another vacation to The White Lotus, as the Emmy-winning series returns Sunday, October 30 (Monday, October 31 in the UK). Fans of Mike White’s anthology series know that The White Lotus season 2 isn’t going to be any normal vacation, as another star-studded ensemble arrives with their various dysfunctions and issues that will bubble to the surface against the gorgeous Sicilian backdrop.

The new season of The White Lotus welcomes an almost entirely new cast, including Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, Theo James, Meghann Fahey, Michael Imperioli, F. Murray Abraham, Adam DiMarco, Haley Lu Richardson, Sabrina Impacciatore, Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannó. There are however a couple of returning characters, including season 1 standout Jennifer Coolidge, coming off her Emmy win for playing Tanya, and Jon Gries as her now-husband Greg.

What to Watch got to take part in interviews with The White Lotus season 2 cast, where they discussed their reactions to watching the first season, what made them want to join the show, filming in Italy and what fans can expect with these new episodes.

What did you think of The White Lotus season 1?

Sabrina Impacciatore in The White Lotus

Sabrina Impacciatore in The White Lotus (Image credit: HBO/Sky)

Michael Imperioli: "I hadn’t seen the show when they told me there was interest in me for the part. … So I watched it and really loved it right away, I mean I got sucked into it, I watched all six episodes in a pretty short amount of time. At first I was a little bit questioning, 'OK, is this going to be some cynical statement about rich people or our current times.'… It was anything but. It was really human and the characters were very nuanced and it was really funny and very touching in a lot of ways. Extremely entertaining and compelling, I didn’t want to stop watching it. After that I was like, oh yeah, I gotta do this."

Aubrey Plaza: "I’ve been a fan of Mike White’s for as long as I can remember. I love everything that he does, I’ve been wanting to work for him for a really long time and I was not surprised that White Lotus season 1 was such a hit and that people loved it because I just think the world of his writing and his mind and his brain as an artist. So I was really happy for the show and for him, and so, so excited to get to be a part of it."

Sabrina Impacciatore: "I watched the first season in one night and I was shocked. I was astonished and I thought, 'oh my god … I have to get this role,' because this is like my cup of tea, this is an idea of cinema or television that I really love. The first season was so original, so surprising because it didn’t look like anything else. … I got the role, to be honest, that was the highest professional joy of my entire existence and I will never forget that."

Jennifer Coolidge on returning for The White Lotus season 2

Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus

Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus (Image credit: HBO/Sky)

"It was a thrill to have happen [winning an Emmy]. I like to have a day in this lifetime where you’re like, 'oh my god, I would never have expected that in my whole life.'... And now I’ve had that moment and I’m just thrilled and now here we have White Lotus 2 and had this double gift of being able to do another one, it wasn’t supposed to be that way. So, am I grateful? I can't even convey to you my gratitude."

What was it like filming in Italy?

Sicilian hillside on The White Lotus

The White Lotus exclusively available on HBO and HBO Max October 30, available from October 31 on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW (Image credit: HBO/Sky)

Meghann Fahy: "It was amazing. You kind of forget that it’s all real in a way. Like when we shot at the palazzo … and there’s just the exterior shot of the car pulling up with the building, and I was sitting there looking at it being like that’s a house, not a hotel, not a historical building, it is a home and we were walking around in side of it. It actually is sort of hard to comprehend, because some of the locations that we shot in and even just the places we stayed, they were so beautiful, so surreal."

Theo James: "The first couple of days shooting we had [Mount] Etna in the background basically gently exploding, the beautiful blue sky and we had the ocean in front of us on the side of a cliff. It was very, almost strange to be there. We kept on having to remind ourselves that we’re very lucky and we don’t get to do this that often."

Plaza: "It definitely felt like adult summer camp. … We were all staying in this little town that was really during the offseason, so we kind of had our run of the town. It felt like we were all just  running around the streets of Taramina. We started to know people in the town … you bond very quickly in those experiences because you’re all each other has."

Jon Gries: "I always felt like even the Italians who came down to work in Sicily treated Sicily different. They were like this is Sicily, yes it’s Italy, but Sicilians think this is Sicily not Italy so much. And yet there was this sense of kind of everybody … the energy is just vibrating through the streets."

What should fans expect in The White Lotus season 2?

Aubrey Plaza, Meghann Fahey, Theo James and Will Sharpe in The White Lotus

Aubrey Plaza, Meghann Fahey, Theo James and Will Sharpe in The White Lotus (Image credit: HBO/Sky)

Beatrice Grannó: "I think that what makes this second season great is the chaotic nature of it. It’s so chaotic and it’s very loud and every story is connected to one another somehow."

Michael Imperioli: "The themes this season are very personal, yet also more timeless than season 1. Which reflects the place, the connection to the ancient world being in Sicily. Much more about masculinity, femininity and those roles, you know, the conflict between, which is something that has been going on for many, many, many, many, many centuries. And yet that’s also something that is very individual, very personal at the same time."

F. Murray Abraham: "And that intimacy also encourages an intensity. … Morally, sexually, spiritually as well. It’s a remarkable accomplishment."

Theo James: "It has a lot of the same DNA. The conceit is the same but the themes are very different, and that’s the joy of Mike’s writing. It’s about sexuality, gender, sexual politics, social politics and linked specifically to Sicily, to European sensibilities versus American, to history to all of those things."

The White Lotus season 2 airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max in the US, Sky TV in the UK.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).