‘The White Lotus’ Star Adam DiMarco Knows Why Portia Isn’t Into Albie

Culture
The HBO show’s resident nice guy talks about staying in a haunted Sicilian hotel, working with two “Italian legends,” and whether his character has any game.

Adam DiMarco star of 'The White Lotus' season two.

Adam DiMarcoPhotographs: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

Albie Di Grasso is a nice, handsome young man. This much, everyone on The White Lotus season two can agree. The character, played by 32-year-old Adam DiMarco, is a Stanford grad on a tense trip to Sicily with his old school grandfather, Bert (F. Murray Abraham), and his philandering Hollywood exec father, Dominic (Michael Imperioli). The rest of his family bailed after learning about his dad’s many infidelities.

In the face of Bert and Dominic’s bad behavior, Albie tries to course-correct by being extremely respectful to women, sometimes to his own detriment. He takes a particular interest in Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), the long-suffering personal assistant to Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) … and swiftly gets rejected in favor of the more aggressive British hooligan, Jack (Leo Woodall). But by episode four, he’s caught the eye of the scrappy and charming local sex worker, Lucia (Simona Tabasco), who, unbeknownst to Albie, has already seen his father a few times. Mamma mia!

Adam DiMarco hopped on a call with GQ to psychoanalyze Albie, tell us about watching The Godfather for the first time in Sicily, and discuss whether or not Albie has any game.

GQ: I heard the hotel was haunted.

Adam DiMarco: Allegedly.

Allegedly.

It’s a really old hotel and it used to be a convent. I heard Jon Gries [who plays Greg] telling this story of a nightmare he had and I just couldn’t believe it because I had the exact same nightmare two nights before. There’s this bald man who was walking back and forth and approached the foot of our bed and grabbed us. I woke up screaming and I didn’t really think anything of it until Jon mentioned his story. I was like, “Okay, I’ve never had any paranormal experiences. Other than that, I guess.” It was just so weird that the stories corroborated so cleanly.

Well, congrats on the show. What appealed to you about Albie?

I got the material and immediately connected to Albie. There were a lot of similarities between us and obviously the show’s fucking amazing. It’s very rare that you get a chance to do a second season of something that’s already been established—and established as great. The biggest no-brainer of my life.

Had you seen the first season?

I had watched the first episode, but I was in a weird headspace and I didn’t know if the show would exacerbate that headspace. I was like, “I need to watch The Bachelor.” I went back to finish it when I got the audition, then I binge-watched the whole show and I was just going around telling everyone, “you guys gotta watch The White Lotus.” It was months too late. Everyone was like, “yeah, we’ve done it.”

The same thing happened to me when I was in Sicily, because I finally watched The Godfather for the show. Meghann Fahy [who plays Daphne] and I watched it and then we were just going around to everyone: “Have you guys seen The Godfather? It’s really good.” And everyone was like, “yeah, we know this.”

F. Murray Abraham plays your grandfather and Michael Imperioli is your father—

Two kings!

Two kings. Were you a big Sopranos guy before this?

No, I mean, I get intimidated by these amazing, lauded, awarded, almost larger-than-the-medium shows and movies. That’s the same reason why I hadn’t watched The Godfather until this. Especially being half-Italian, the longer in life you go without having seen it, it becomes more of a thing. I started watching it while I was in Sicily, but before I got there, I didn’t want to see Michael as Chrissy Moltisanti. I wanted to imprint on him as this father character. And I didn’t want to be intimidated.

So you watched it while you were there with him.

Well, Meghann and I watched the first few episodes. Then we got distracted watching Mike White’s season of Survivor. I know Aubrey [Plaza] was watching it there a bit as well.

Did Michael know this was going on?

Yeah, yeah. People would always be talking to him about it. I assume everywhere he goes, that’s what happens.

What kind of preparation did the three of you do to create the multi-generational family dynamic?

It felt really natural. I felt at ease with them immediately. There were no table reads or anything, but us three would read through all seven episodes at least once a week and just kind of hear it out loud. And then we’d shoot the shit. I’d bring them fresh Sicilian strawberries and blood oranges trying to curry favor. We’d talk about The Godfather or talk about our own fathers and our relationships with them. Or talk about our relationship to sex. We’d touch on different themes of the show. Michael and Murray have been around a lot longer than I have, so they have some great stories and I was happy to be kind of a fly on the wall for a lot of those conversations.

Is there any standout advice either of them gave to you?

I had a bit of an inferiority complex going into it because Michael and Murray are Oscar and Emmy winners and just these amazing Italian legends. They were very good at making me feel equally important, like my character was equally important, and that I deserved a seat at the table.

Who in the cast do you think is closest to their character in the show?

Honestly, most of us have a lot of ourselves in our characters. I’d say Michael Imperioli is the furthest from his character. Everyone slowly morphed into their characters at a certain point and then morphed back into themselves. But Mike [White] was really good at casting people who shared a lot of qualities with their characters. I know Haley’s and my first meeting with Mike, he thought we were in character, doing a bit, but we were literally just being ourselves.

Portia and Albie have an awkward run-in at the breakfast buffet. 

Fabio Lovino/HBO

And you said you saw a lot of yourself in Albie when you first read the script. What did you feel like you had in common with him?

On a surface level, we’re both half-Italian. Our names are weirdly similar. He’s described as this sweet, nice boy. And I’m Canadian, so we have a reputation for being “nice.” I think we’re maybe less aggressive than other people. On a deeper level, I mean, who doesn’t like when things are peaceful? That’s always been one of my goals in life, just finding peace. To say I want to be happy every day of my life is unrealistic. But you can find peace every day.

Let’s psychoanalyze Albie a bit. Do you think he is the way he is as a direct reaction to his father and grandfather?

I think so. And he’s almost overcorrected things or tried to overcompensate in a certain direction. I think he sees his father and his grandfather as the other side of a pendulum and he’s trying to swing it back in a big way. It’s just made him extremely in his head and he overthinks a lot of things as a result. We’re all like our parents more than we realize, too, so I think he’s fighting against his nature in a way, which must cause some anxiety.

Do you think his problem is that he’s too nice and doesn’t have game or is it just that he’s chasing after the wrong person?

I think both. But he has some game. His game is just being the only option. Like Portia says, he just “doesn’t get the heart rate up.” I think that’s because he’s so focused on himself and what he’s doing and that he’s not offending anyone, that he’s not really fully aware of what the other person might want at that moment. Portia just wants to be, as she says, thrown around by some hot Italian guy. And sometimes it’s okay to do that without tip-toeing around it first. Which maybe he’ll realize at the end of this trip as well, who knows.

Why do you think Portia isn’t into him? Is it as simple as he’s too respectful and nice?

I think he’s missing that X factor. He’s missing that spice. Especially when you’re on vacation. It’s not necessarily what you want in the real world, it’s what you want at that moment. And if you’re in Italy, you want that hot, hot heat. They might have made a better pair stateside, but what she’s looking for is clearly out of his depth at that moment.

On the other hand, do you think Lucia is actually into him as a person or does she just see him as a potential client?

I think she’s into him. Maybe not at first, but he’s probably so different than a lot of the other clients she’s had. Which is maybe the opposite of Portia. Lucia might be looking for something that’s more nice and stable and normal. She might be hit with a little too much spice.

Albie and Lucia by the pool.

Francesca D’Angelo/HBO

Each season of The White Lotus starts with a big mystery murder that fades into the background as the rest of the interpersonal drama comes to dominate the story. Did the actors know who would be murdered going into the show?

No, that’s part of the reason I binge-read the scripts. And I haven’t binge-read anything since Harry Potter. I needed to know who dies. And I didn’t want to just jump to the end because the journey there is so delicious and Mike’s writing is so strong and it’s so funny and thought-provoking. I read the first six and then kept emailing my agents like a fan. “I need the last episode, I need to know what happens!”

So who’s your favorite character this season and who do you think is the most intolerable?

I thought you were gonna say, “who do you think is gonna die?”

Yeah, can you just casually reveal it right now?

Obviously Greg is the most repulsive. Because he’s just being so rude and awful to Coolidge. And who wants to see that? Who wants to see Coolidge suffering?

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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