Vengeful Binge

Truth about hit show’s most shocking scene


The White Lotus has closed the curtain in dramatic fashion, and now one star has revealed his thoughts on what unfolded. WARNING: Spoilers.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The White Lotus finale. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now …

While a much-discussed character death claims the shock factor, there’s an equally hair-raising moment in The White Lotus’ season finale, which is now streaming on Foxtel.

In the sixth and final episode, hotel manager Armond, played by Australian actor Murray Bartlett, goes on a drug and alcohol binge and sneaks into the suite of his arch enemy, hotel guest Shane (Jake Lacy).

After breaking in Armond pulls down his dacks and with a vengeful twinkle in his eye, does a poo in Shane’s luggage.

The camera angle is unflinching, showing Armond squatting above the suitcase as we slowly watch his bodily fluids exit his body and into the designer luggage below.

We’ve got a lot of questions, but first things first, we roped Bartlett onto a Zoom call to answer the obvious one: Are we witnessing CGI, a prop or a very committed actor?

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“I can’t break the magic of that!” Bartlett says.

“All I can tell you is that when I watched it, I was shocked,” he adds, suggesting perhaps it was CGI.

As you can imagine, the 50-year-old Sydney-born actor says filming the scene was “awkward” but that his trepidation was squashed by writer/director, Mike White, who promised the scene would be edited forgivingly.

“We did a lot of coverage so I thought we were going to switch from a lot of shots, and Mike kind of assured me that we would. He was like, ‘Oh we’re never gonna stay on the wide shot, so don’t worry’,” Bartlett says.

“So when I first saw it, my reaction was horror.

“But once I got over that, I was like, ‘Well of course’. You can’t look away. It’s the perfect shot for that moment. It’s supposed to be shocking and it should be.

“One of the wonderful things about Mike is he will go there, and will put things in that aren’t gratuitous, but are confronting and shocking in a way that serves the story that makes it impactful. If it feels like its gratuitous, you just feel icky.”

Bartlett, a genuine film and TV veteran who got his first break on Aussie soaps Home and Alway and Neighbours back in the ‘90s, rose to further prominence in the US in HBO’s Looking in 2014.

He delivers a truly award-winning performance in The White Lotus in the career-defining role, after he was hand-picked by White in what Bartlett admits would have been a “risk”.

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“I’m not the best judge of my own work,” Bartlett says. “This is what’s so wonderful about Mike White, he certainly wasn’t very aware of me, but he saw something in the audition and took a risk.

“And it’s so wonderful when you have someone who’s willing to do that, because it is a risk. I mean, it’s such an ensemble piece, but Armond is an essential part of the story in terms of being a part of everyone’s story.

“I feel incredibly grateful to Mike for giving me a shot.”

And another warning – there’s a big spoiler ahead.

After weeks of speculation from viewers, Armond is ultimately the character who meets his end in The White Lotus finale.

It’s certainly not an outcome many viewers were expecting, and as it turns out, Bartlett wasn’t either.

“I was shocked when I read it, I was not expecting him to die,” he says.

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“But what I love about it is … We were shooting this in the middle of the pandemic, in the middle of a really intense election here (in the US) where the country is incredibly divided, and I couldn’t help but feeling, and maybe this was just my personal relationship to the character, but feeling that Armond was representing all of these aspects of ourselves that are like, ‘What the hell is going on?’.

“That feeling of being overwhelmed and like, I can’t do this anymore.

“What I love about the moment right after he dies, there’s this moment of release. He’s released from this craziness. So it’s tragic but there’s casualties to this hierarchal structure we have that is completely unfair and overwhelming and frustrating.

“Once I’d gotten over the shock of his death, I felt it was fitting.”

The White Lotus streams on Foxtel

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