How to Get Cast on ‘The White Lotus’

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Photo Source: Fabio Lovino/HBO

While the “White Lotus” Season 1 and Season 2 cast have all checked out (in more ways than one), it looks like HBO’s murder mystery dramedy is taking reservations again for a third season. Created, written, and directed by Mike White (“School of Rock”), the hit series is filled with dark humor and delightfully cringeworthy characters—all of which made it an instant success among fans and critics alike. 

If you dream of being part of White’s Emmy-winning social satire, we’ve got you covered. This primer will tell you everything you need to know—from the casting process to audition advice—to secure your spot among the cast of “The White Lotus.”


What is “The White Lotus” about?

Right from the opening scene of Season 1, viewers learn that, before their one-week stay at a Hawaiian luxury resort comes to an end, someone won’t be making it out alive. On a series that explores how privilege and wealth exist alongside tragedy and despair, each character must come to grips with their own struggles. As the staff caters to the guests’ every whim, the series proves that money cannot buy happiness. On Season 1, a newlywed realizes that she’s little more than a trophy wife, and a longtime couple renegotiates their power dynamic. On Season 2, set in Sicily, a double-date getaway is plagued by sexual politics and jealousy, and three generations of men come together.

Who is in the ensemble of “The White Lotus”?

Season 1’s cast featured an array of talented stars, including: 

  • Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya McQuoid
  • Connie Britton as Nicole Mossbacher
  • Alexandra Daddario as Rachel Patton
  • Murray Bartlett as Armond
  • Jake Lacy as Shane Patton
  • Brittany O’Grady as Paula
  • Natasha Rothwell as Belinda Lindsey
  • Sydney Sweeney as Olivia Mossbacher
  • Steve Zahn as Mark Mossbacher
  • Molly Shannon as Kitty Patton
  • Jon Gries as Greg Hunt

Season 2 further upped the ante, bringing back Gries and Coolidge’s characters—now husband and wife—alongside a stellar new ensemble:

  • F. Murray Abraham as Bert Di Grasso
  • Adam DiMarco as Albie Di Grasso
  • Michael Imperioli as Dominic Di Grasso
  • Meghann Fahy as Daphne Sullivan
  • Theo James as Cameron Sullivan
  • Beatrice Grannò as Mia
  • Sabrina Impacciatore as Valentina
  • Aubrey Plaza as Harper Spiller
  • Will Sharpe as Ethan Spiller
  • Haley Lu Richardson as Portia
  • Simona Tabasco as Lucia Greco

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How does the casting process work for “The White Lotus”?

Per Vanity Fair, for Season 1, the “White Lotus” team had to think outside the box in order to adapt to pandemic protocols. Much of the ensemble was cast based on writer-director Mike White’s initial visions for particular characters, while others were asked to audition via self-tape.

The self-taping process helped Murray Bartlett land the role of resort manager Armond. “It really was a brilliant, brilliant audition,” CD Meredith Tucker told the Los Angeles Times. “Murray did it in his natural [Australian] accent. He captured the obsequiousness of the character, but there was also something else going on underneath that yielded a really interesting performance. He just got the tone so perfectly.” 

In Vanity Fair, Tucker elaborated, saying, “Murray showed some really beautiful moments in his additional audition where you could see that he wasn’t just this smiling guy. There was much more complexity going on than initially meets the eye.” 

That process also helped Meghann Fahy land the role of Daphne Sullivan after having lost out to Alexandra Daddario for the role of Rachel Patton on Season 1. Fahy told the Hollywood Reporter that a friend noted there’d be a second installment of “The White Lotus,” and shortly after sending in her self-tape, Fahy ended up on a Zoom call with White himself. “Mike is so good because he casts a quality of a person,” she said. “He knows that the actor shares something innate with the character, and then you spend the rest of the time wondering what it is in you—and that gives your acting vulnerability.”

Aubrey Plaza, who plays Fahy’s frenemy Harper Spiller, bypassed the audition stage entirely. "Mike [White] and I were friends before this. So he kind of knew enough about me that he just kind of scooted me right in there,” she told BuzzFeed. Will Sharpe, who plays Plaza’s husband Ethan Spiller, submitted a self-tape. “I got asked to tape for it,” he said. “In the first round, I just kind of did it as well as I could, but didn't really think anything of it…. I was surprised to get to do it again more thoroughly. Finally, I read through it with Mike and the producers. And then even when they offered it to me, I still sort of felt like they made some sort of mistake.”

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When does filming for “The White Lotus” Season 3 start?

Only three episodes into “The White Lotus” Season 2, HBO renewed the acclaimed series for a third season, per Variety. “[White’s] courage to explore the uncharted waters of the human psyche, paired with his signature irreverent humor and buoyant directing style, have us all dreaming of more vacation days at the resort we’ve come to adore,” Francesca Orsi, the executive vice president of HBO programming and head of drama series and films, told Deadline. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to get the chance to collaborate on a third season together.”

While the SAG-AFTRA strike delayed production, the series geared back up and began casting on Nov. 9 (the day after the strike ended). According to Deadline, the new season will feature “a sprawling, multi-generational cast. Thirteen roles are currently casting, nine of them series regulars–ranging in ages between 18–80s– with a patriarch, a corporate executive, an actress, a couple of mothers, a misfit, and a yogi among the bunch.” 

White also shared some secrets about Season 3, revealing it will be “supersized.” He told EW, “It’s going to be longer, bigger, crazier. I don’t know what people will think, but I am super excited, so at least for my own barometer, that’s a good thing … I’m super excited about the content of the season.”

Season 3 is expected to begin filming in Feb. 2024 in Thailand. A change from Season 2’s Sicily, Italy location and Season 1’s Four Season Resort Maui set in Wailea, Kihei, Hawaii. 

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Where can you find “The White Lotus” casting calls and auditions?

Currently, there are no open auditions for Season 3, but we're hopeful they'll start to trickle in now that the SAG-AFTRA strike is over. 

For the latest info on upcoming casting calls, keep your eyes on our main casting section, check out this list of HBO and Showtime shows that are currently looking for talent, and peruse this roundup of dramas and dark comedies that are casting right now.

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Who are the casting directors for “The White Lotus”?

Veteran casting director Tucker cast the first season of the series alongside Katie Doyle. Tucker has cast hit series including “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Veep,” as well as films including “Eighth Grade” and “In the Loop.” The CD was particularly crunched for time when casting “The White Lotus” Season 1. She told Vanity Fair that White wrote the script with an eye toward specific actors; for instance, he always had Jennifer Coolidge in mind to play heiress Tanya McQuoid. That left Tucker with only about a month to fill out the remaining cast. 

Tucker also had to deal with the fact that, at the time, the world was in the midst of strict COVID-19 lockdowns. Instead of traditional in-person meetups and group reads, she had actors audition via self-tape—a practice that is now common in the industry. “We didn’t do chemistry reads,” she told the outlet. “We really lucked out.”

Bartlett believes that the unconventional circumstances helped to foster strong bonds among the ensemble. “You definitely kind of find your rhythm when you start working together, particularly when you don’t have any rehearsal or table read and are just [working] on the fly,” he told Vanity Fair. “We were immediately kind of bonded, because it was such a unique situation with the pandemic. We all got pulled out of our COVID pods and taken to Hawaii, to this beautiful place with these great scripts, with this amazing group of people. That was the jumping-off point, you know? So that was kind of a great place to start.”

Tucker told the Hollywood Reporter that she works closely with White during the audition process, as “he likes to hear the material read.” She added, “Often, when I’m casting a show, I have only the first or second script. I have to trust Michael’s instincts because he ultimately knows his characters much better than I do.” Perhaps that’s the reason why these longtime collaborators have put together not just one, but two talented ensembles that continue to mesmerize audiences.

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What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “The White Lotus”?

Tucker told us that even if you aren’t actively auditioning, there’s no reason for actors to remain dormant. “It’s always hard to get your foot in the door, but I think the thing that’s kind of great now is that there are so many means to make your own product if you have a digital camera,” she noted. “If you aren’t getting those jobs, I think writing stuff for yourself or working with friends to make your own product is always a great way A) to keep yourself busy and B) to have something to show people.”

If you ever get the chance to audition for Tucker herself, know that she likes to give everyone a chance to demonstrate what they have to offer. “I’ve had instances where someone will come in for me and will be completely and utterly wrong, but at least they’re interesting,” she explained. For instance, when she was working on HBO’s “Entourage,” Tucker said that Rhys Coiro, who eventually played Billy Walsh, initially tried out for an agent role that simply didn’t fit his vibe. But when she “needed an insane, narcissistic director,” the CD knew he’d be perfect for the role. “I always think it’s great if you can meet the person, even if they’re not right,” she said. A failed audition could lead to the role of a lifetime down the road.

Connie Britton, who plays Nicole Mossbacher on “The White Lotus” Season 1, said that actors will ultimately succeed if they consistently show casting directors what they bring to the table. “Know what you have to offer, and really hone that and have faith in it and take it out there. And eventually, you’ll find somebody who’s looking for what you have to offer,” she said.

But Coolidge advised actors not to linger for too long. "Don’t stand around and talk with the people afterward,” she told us. “You should leave the room so they’re left with your performance. Sometimes, I would finish the audition and they would ask me about my life; and if maybe I had a shot, I would undo getting the part. We want the job, so we unconsciously say stuff because we’re people pleasers. You should do it and run for the exit. Just tell them you’re running to get a flight.”

Looking to get cast? Apply to casting calls on Backstage.

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