Interview: Simona Tabasco on Joining ‘The White Lotus’ and Getting to Know Lucia

HBO’s The White Lotus boasts an almost entirely new cast for its second, Italy-set season. One of the best new additions is Simona Tabasco, who plays Lucia, a sex worker who makes a number of friends within the White Lotus resort, and a few enemies as well. Along with her best friend Mia (Beatrice Grannò), she adds a distinctly Italian flair to season two of the social satire.

Awards Radar had the chance to speak with Tabasco about her interest in working with Mike White and joining the cast, as well as her experiences collaborating with the many members of the ensemble and what distinguishes her from her character

Q: I really love your work on this show. What did you know about the show before finding out about the role? 

A: I came to know about The White Lotus as a series when I received my request to audition for the part of Lucia. I watched it and I totally fell in love with it, because I loved how the series goes into the little flaws and Imperfections of these characters, these rich people, and dives into their human side. It was incredible for me to get to know the show when I got the request to participate and then to be part of it as Lucia.

Q: Do you think that season two is very different from season one? 

A: I don’t think there’s a big difference between season one and season two, but I do think that maybe Mike wanted to highlight the mystery plotline a little more. And also, the fact that Jennifer Coolidge comes back to the second season, I think that brings a bit of a thread to the two seasons, but overall, I think they’re both incredible. One incredible element that I do think is different is the music. What Mike chose for this season is, I think, true Italian music, something you can hear in a bar, in a restaurant, something you can hear on the street, something you would hear on vacation. So I think it’s extremely appropriate. I think Mike was going for that, so I think that’s a really cool and different element of this season.

Q: It is nice to see a lot of Italy, but we also get to see a lot of the series filmed in The Four Seasons. What is it like using that as a filming location? 

A: I think there are two great things about having filmed at the Four Seasons. One is that it’s a particular situation in which you get to really know the set where you’re shooting. Sometimes you go on set and it’s someplace you haven’t seen before, you’re not part of the scouting process, so it’s an entirely new place. But given that we were staying there, we got to know it so well, it felt like a place that we really, really knew. Touching on that, the fact that we all stayed there and the cast was all there allowed this sort of bubble to form, where we were all together in it. And that was important to me, because apart from building relationships and getting to know each other, you’re also able, day after day, to explore the dynamics between the people, not just the characters, which in turn I think helped in the actual shooting process. 

Q: You have lots of great co-stars and it’s particularly nice to see you with Beatrice Grannò. What was it like working with her and building the friendship between Lucia and Mia?

A: It was incredible to shoot with her because we’ve been friends for ten years. We met ten years ago while we were both auditioning for film school, and then after that, she moved to London to study and I got into the academy in Rome. After some time, we met back again in Italy and shot a series together, which we were still filming as we got the request for the audition tapes, which we helped each other with, which was incredible. And the fact that we got to work on this project together, it just allowed us to even build on top of our already existing friendship. It was kind of like a lotus that bloomed between us. When you see us slapping each other a little bit and giving each other little punches, it’s something that Sicilian girls usually do in everyday life. That was one of the many elements that it was fun to work on and build our on-screen relationship and friendship on as well. 

Q: I also enjoy your interactions with Sabrina Impacciatore, who plays Valentina, because they’re so angry on both sides and it’s very entertaining. I’m sure you were familiar with her and her work throughout the years?

A: Yes, of course I knew Sabrina as an actress in Italy, and I’ve always thought that she was incredibly funny. When we got to meet on set and I heard that she was going to be part of the project as well, I was really happy to get the chance to work with her. I’m sorry that we didn’t have that many scenes together, but all that we did was really funny, especially the one scene where I literally just throw everything at her and insult her very heavily. That was really funny to shoot. 

Q: You have a lot of great American costars as well. What is it like working with people like F. Murray Abraham and Michael Imperioli?

A: It was incredible to get to know them and work with them. They taught me something that I will carry with me always, the concentration, the discipline on set, and especially this capacity to just be present in a quiet way, just taking it all in in the moment. I’m sorry if I go into being banal, but they’re just amazing people and amazing actors. So it was just such a pleasure to get to work with them. 

Q: I also was not as familiar with Adam DiMarco, but he’s so sweet and well-intentioned as Albie. What was it like sharing scenes and building that relationship with him? 

A: It was incredibly fun and nice to work with him, especially since, I always say that as much as an actor can study a character that he or she is given to play, you can’t really go that much farther away from who you are in a sense. So in this particular case, it was serendipitous that Lucia and Albie built this relationship with characteristics that are close to us and close to Adam. It was really nice to build on set, where there were two characters that Mike had written very clearly, and it was so nice to get to do that with them. It was also very easy, I must say. It just came very naturally. Whatever relationship they have that you see on screen building, it’s The White Lotus, you don’t know where it’s going, you don’t know what’s happening. So who knows what that will bring.

Q: If you say that you are similar in some ways to Lucia, what was the most difficult for you to relate to about her?

A: I’m not exactly sure, but I can tell you that I went through this process where, for sure, Lucia expresses sides of me that I usually, on an everyday basis, keep in check a little more, so it was fun for me to get to tap into those a little more. What I did think was going to be difficult for me was the whole sensual, sexual aspect of the character that we see on screen, but in the end, it turned out to be such a fun thing to portray and to play that I just had a ton of fun with it. 

Q: Have you followed fan reactions to the show and to your character in particular? 

A: Yes, I’m aware of the fans and their reaction not just to Lucia but to the entire series and the second season. I’m really happy that it’s going so well, especially because second seasons always have a bit of an aura to them. There’s a bigger risk, a bigger bet on them, and so it’s great, because fans have to respond to it and it has to keep going. I’m really happy about how it’s going. I do think that the idea of a bigger bet for the second season probably doesn’t apply to The White Lotus in the sense that it’s won ten Emmy Awards, it’s Mike White, it’s such a brand and such a success already that of course, it probably related more to myself when I got the script for season two and I read about it and I could not believe how rich and how incredible it read and that I was going to be a part of it. I am very happy about how it’s all turning out. 

Q: I know the show was renewed for a third season, which is very exciting. I haven’t finished the second season, but assuming that your character survives and is still alive by the end, and if Mike found a way for you to come back, would you be interested in joining again in some capacity?

A: I hope to! It would be amazing. 

The White Lotus is streaming on HBO Max, with new episodes premiering Sundays at 9pm on HBO.


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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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