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Interview: Theo James on the Challenge of Playing a Charming Villain in Season Two of ‘The White Lotus’

HBO’s The White Lotus boasts an entirely new cast for its second, Italy-set season, with two notable exceptions. Among its very worthwhile additions is Theo James, who plays Cameron, a self-assured and wealthy guest married to Daphne (Meghann Fahy) who seems intent on messing with the marriage of his best friend Ethan (Will Sharpe) to Harper (Aubrey Plaza).

Awards Radar had the chance to speak to James about the appeal of playing someone so despicable:

“I relish the idea of playing the villain, and also, I felt I had met a version of him in varying different ways in my life. I really enjoyed the challenge of him, but also the challenge of trying to make him, within the paradigm of his toxicity and these fairly ludicrous opinions and entitlements that he has, trying to make him as charming and likeable within that prism as possible… He needs to be as charming as possible, otherwise he’s just repugnant, whereas if he’s both those things, it’s far more interesting and far more juicy.”

On whether the fact that he and Sharpe, both Brits, play Americans:

“I think yes, it would have changed things. Firstly, with a British accent, with an American TV show, there is the allure of something different, something foreign. Secondly, I think British accents are so linked to class and wealth that perhaps if Cameron had been British, he might have been too on-the-nose evil. Also, Cameron specifically represents a very specific part of white American Americana. He came from money, he went to a good school by right, he goes straight into the good merchant banking job, where he’s slapped on the back by other white men around him, and he’s coaxed into the world that he perceives is owed to him anyway. He needed to be American in a way as part of the message, part of the story.”

Watch the full conversation below:

Seasons one and two of The White Lotus are streaming on HBO Max/Max.


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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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