Spoiler alert: This interview contains spoilers for episode 4 of “The White Lotus,” airing Sundays on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.
Do you think you know Ethan? Think again.
In Season 2 of “The White Lotus,” Will Sharpe plays a techie, if slightly awkward, man who has recently come into a fortune and embarks on a couple’s journey that turns out to be more than he bargained for.
Paired with Aubrey Plaza’s pugnacious Harper, Theo James’ haughty Cameron and Megan Fahey’s cheerful Daphne, Ethan is a bit of a straight man. But Sharpe says that’s all about to change, and viewers shouldn’t be too quick to establish it.
“Some characters come immediately, and you already have a relatively complete understanding of them. But since ethane is supposed to be hard to pin down, you leave room for speculation,” he warned.
In the episode before tonight’s episode on November 13, Ethan is tricked into a men’s night nightmare when he invites sex workers Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Granno) to a party while his wives are not at Noto’s. Despite Cameron telling her that “everyone cheats,” Ethan remains (mostly) loyal to Harper, but the discovery of a condom wrapper under the couch cushion sends her into a silent spiral. On several occasions, Harper offers Ethan a chance to come clean the night before, but swearing to the “bro code”, he spins a web of lies to protect his friend.
Now that viewers have gotten over the seven-episode Mike White series, Sharpe is staying put. Difference Turning heel in the final episodes of the series to discuss his character’s toxic relationship with Cameron and Harper.
Shep, who created the dark comedy sitcom “Flowers” and directed and co-wrote HBO’s 2021 “Landscape Owners,” criticized the cultural differences between American and English friendships and why his character James can’t seem to stop kissing. The cheek.
How do you interpret Ethan and Harper’s relationship?
I think their lack of sex is basically an example of a general problem – they are both very connected but never connected. They’ve been together so long that it seems like they’re on autopilot. They are really close and good together and they speak for themselves in many ways. But there is also a strange paradox where they are so supportive and share everything with each other, they seem lonely. It’s amazing how the prospect of having sex with other people can create tension in their relationships and expose the cracks between them. There’s this amazing scene in Noto where Harper gets all the men’s attention and Cameron shoves his sex workers into Ethan. It looks like you can participate in this if you want. How they relate to both Cameron and Daphne is making them realize where they are. Towards the end of episode 3, what’s on Ethan is more than, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this crazy party is going to happen in my hotel room while my wife is gone.” It’s a matter of understanding at dawn that he and Harper aren’t safe. And she is on the same journey. But they are not on that journey together.
You and Theo James play former college roommates, and there’s this air of rivalry between you. What was it like getting into that mindset together, and were there any cultural differences you were aware of as two British actors playing American gents?
I remember having a conversation with one of our producers who said, “Sometimes Americans make friends with people they hate.” It’s not like Ethan and Cameron were soul mates. They were roommates, and now they were both successful. They stayed in touch, and definitely went through some rough patches together. But he never felt that they were particularly close—they were almost geographical friends. In terms of going on this holiday, I feel like Ethan said yes without really thinking about it. It ends up way more toxic and complicated than he ever imagined. At first he was protective of Cameron and Duff towards Harper, but as time went on he began to question Cameron in particular. Harper’s prediction that Cameron wants to do some business with Ethan turns out to be true.
There are a few awkward moments between Cameron and Harper. He strips naked in front of her while he’s changing in episode 1, and shoots him some subtle flirtatious looks throughout the series. Is Cameron sexually interested in Harper, or do you think this is just another way he’s trying to get one up on Ethan?
I think it’s kind of an obligation on his part. In later episodes, you’ll find out how this is always Cameron’s way of trying to one up Ethan. Hypothetically, maybe it’s because Ethan is smarter than him, so he can do this to win Cameron. Perhaps more interestingly, why is Harper engaging in this activity? Where does it come from? As the series goes on, you realize that there is only one person who truly hurts Ethan. He may suffer a lot, but in the end there are some things he has to fight. Whether you like it for that or not, or how it actually works remains to be seen.
Cameron gave Ethan a small kiss on the cheek. What do you think it means, if anything?
He loved doing that. I think it’s playful and sexist and a way to show who’s boss in this weird way. It’s like a micro-power game. But yeah, I notice that too and I’m just reacting like I thought Ethan would.
So that wasn’t in the script? Did Theo just start doing it?
Yes, the party scenes were very loosely scripted. It was really an improvisation and in editing they cut and use the most helpful bits.
Between Ethan and Cameron, who has the upper hand now? Or are they both mutually exclusive?
Ethan thinks that it is not necessary to fight for any level. But on some level, there is definitely dissatisfaction with Cameron’s handling of it. There is a power struggle. Financially, Ethan is now richer than he was, but I don’t think it’s that simple. A silent race is underway. But I think Ethan is trying to figure out who he is instead of trying to figure out the relationship between him and Cameron.
Do you think people steal Ethan?
I hope it’s complicated, because I think that’s the idea. Your opinion of him and your suspicions of him will shift from episode to episode and scene to scene. Once you get to the end, it becomes clear who he is, and why it’s an interesting episode for me. Some of the characters present themselves instantly, and you already have a relatively complete understanding of them. But since ethane is supposed to be difficult to pin down, they leave you room to guess. In a way, he’s the straight man for three of the funniest personalities around. At some point, that flips over and you start to get a deeper understanding of everything he was running or carrying in the earlier episodes. I hope the audience will enjoy watching him, whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy. All that moral gray area stuff is really fertile and fun to play with. We are all human – none of us are perfect.
What do you hope people take away from the event?
It’s a dark series, and it’s very dysfunctional and sometimes – it goes to abusive places – but I think it’s also a very romantic series. Mike is poignantly exploring the subject of love in his own way. And it does that by confronting all of its messiest, ugliest aspects. My hope is that there is something in all the different characters that people can relate to. “The White Lotus” is really funny, and it’s really sappy and sassy and political. But I hope it moves people a little bit.
This interview has been edited and completed.