Like the rest of us, Aubrey Plaza devoured the first season of “The White Lotus,” HBO’s buzzy social satire about insufferable vacationers and seemingly cheerful employees at a luxurious Hawaiian resort. Unlike the rest of us, Plaza was cast on the show’s second season.
Beyond the chance to appear on the hit show, Plaza says she’s most looking forward to working with Mike White, who created, wrote and directed “The White Lotus.”
“I was a fan of Season 1, but more importantly, I was a big Mike White fan,” Plaza said at Variety’s virtual Sundance Studio presented by Audible, where she’s on the press circuit for her coming-of-age thriller “Emily the Criminal.” Before the pandemic, Plaza and White had been collaborating on a creative project that “kind of got messed up by the COVID of it all.”
“So I’m very excited to work with him,” she says. “I’m very honored to be on this television series, and I hope I don’t let everybody down. It seems like everyone watched this show.”
Naturally, Plaza couldn’t say much (or anything at all, really) about her upcoming role as Harper Spiller, a woman on vacation with her husband and his friends. The show’s sophomore season will take place at a new White Lotus resort — reportedly in Italy — and so far, the only character from Season 1 who’s returning is Jennifer Coolidge as the wealthy, grieving Tanya McQuoid. The acclaimed first season also featured Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Lacy, Sydney Sweeney and Steve Zahn.
Though any specifics have been sparse, a few of Plaza’s co-stars were previously announced, including “The Sopranos” actor Michael Imperioli, F. Murray Abraham, Adam DiMarco, Tom Hollander and Haley Lu Richardson. Per the official press release, Abraham will appear as Bert Di Grasso, an elderly man traveling with his son (Imperioli) and grandson, a recent college graduate (DiMarco). Hollander will play Quentin, an English expat vacationing with his friends and his nephew, and Richardson will portray Portia, a young woman traveling with her boss.
So who among that illustrious cast is Plaza most eager to act alongside?
“That’s a trick question,” she insists. (It’s not. At least five cast members have already been confirmed.) “I don’t know. I can’t say, honestly. A lot of the roles I interact with haven’t been cast yet. I can’t even answer that question.”
Plaza is, however, a little more willing to chat about White’s influence on her pop culture taste.
“‘Enlightened,’ to me, is one of the best television shows in the past 10 years. And ‘Chuck and Buck’ is one of the best independent movies ever made. It was a huge inspiration for ‘Ingrid Goes West,’” Plaza says, referring to the 2017 black comedy in which she starred and produced. “‘School of Rock’ is the best. ‘Orange County’… Jack Black, Catherine O’Hara?”
And since filming on “The White Lotus” Season 2 hasn’t started yet, it’s possible that Plaza isn’t privy to all the details yet.
“I have no idea what’s happening,” she says. “I just show up.”