Jake Lacy interview: ‘The White Lotus’
“There was lot of swearing and me yelling loudly in my trailer,” laughs Jake Lacy about finding out that he had received his first career Emmy nomination for his standout role on “The White Lotus.” For our recent webchat he adds, “there was this wonderful cacophony of celebrating with each other. I reached back out to everybody and we all got on so well, so it’s such a joyous moment to be like ‘oh my God, we made this thing and we thought it was cool and now other people think it’s cool!'” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
HBO’s “The White Lotus” was created by Mike White, who wrote and directed all six episodes of the anthology drama. The series follows a week in the life of the employees of the fictional White Lotus resort in Maui and the guests looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation among the swaying palm trees, cocktails and idyllic sunsets of this tropical island getaway. However, things are not quite as they seem at first, as we learn more about the dysfunctional vacationers and the resort’s beleaguered staff members, all of which comes to a head in the series’ dynamite finale as the identity of the mysterious dead body that features in the show’s first scene is finally revealed. Originally intended as a six-part limited series, “The White Lotus” became a critical and commercial sensation last year, leading HBO to renew it for a second season, this time set in Sicily and with only Coolidge returning from the first season’s cast.
Lacy competes in the Best Limited Series/Movie Supporting Actor race alongside his co-stars Murray Bartlett and Steve Zahn, both first-timers at the Emmys just like Lacy, while legendary comedienne Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell and Sydney Sweeney take up all but two spots in the corresponding female lineup (marking the first time ever that five women have been nominated from a single series in one category). The actor plays the demanding and entitled man-baby Shane Patton, who arrives at the White Lotus on his honeymoon with new wife Rachel (Daddario). Shane comes from a wealthy family, so he’s accustomed to a life of privilege and getting what he wants, when he wants it. Within minutes of disembarking on the island, Shane realizes that he and his bride have not been allocated the coveted honeymoon suite, triggering a confrontation with frazzled hotel manager Armond (Bartlett), leading to an ugly (but very amusing) war of attrition between them. This roller coaster ride kicks into high gear relatively quickly as Shane (rightly) suspects that Armond is manipulating him, while Armond becomes more unhinged as his life begins to spirals out of control.
One of the funniest scenes in the series is during the third episode when Shane bounds into Armond’s office, catching the hotel manager in a compromising position (to say the least) with hotel employee Dillon (Lukas Gage). “We must have done a dozen or more takes,” Lacy reveals about that highlight moment. “It’s a good reminder for me that the funniest thing is the truest thing,” he says. “The thing that really at least gets me as a viewer is the honesty of someone seeing something they did not think they’d see and not knowing what to do and then immediately [thinking] ‘okay I got you now’,” he explains. The obsessive tit-for-tat feud escalates from there, as Armond falls off the wagon and Shane petulantly fights for the upper hand while a horrified Rachel realizes that she has made a big mistake and wants to leave Shane because of his abhorrent behavior. The series then steamrolls towards its big reveal, as we learn that the death teased in the first scene of the series is none other than Armond. After defecating in Shane’s suitcase in a fit of drug and booze-fueled vengeance, Armond hides as Shane approaches his hotel suite. Shane is appalled when he discovers the offending feces in his suitcase, flies into a fitful of rage, becoming the ultimate knife-wielding guest-from-hell. As Shane turns a corner into the bathroom, he is startled by Armond and inadvertently stabs him in his chest, leaving Armond to bleed out after he slinks into a nearby bathtub. Shane eventually leaves the island, full of regret but hopeful that he can patch up his marriage with a regretful Rachel.
Throughout the series, Shane is the character that viewers love to hate because he is so overtly obnoxious and rude. But Lacy wanted to explore how a life of privilege and wealth might impact a person’s behavior, so that Shane was ultimately more than just another one-dimensional jerk. “When people have a lot of money or a lot of fame, there’s a paranoia or discomfort that comes with that, because you don’t really ever know if you’re being treated in a certain way because of something you’ve done,” he explains about how he approached the character. “You don’t know if you are a dick or if someone thinks you’re being a dick because you pulled up in a certain car,” he says. “I think Shane has that all the time. He can’t tell if people don’t like him because he is a rich white guy or if they don’t like him because he’s unlikable or if they don’t like him because he’s being rude. So, he’s constantly on the case,” he explains, adding that “he’s always assessing.”