The White Lotus star Will Sharpe explains Ethan and Cameron ’s toxic friendship and Theo James’ improvised cheek kisses!
SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers up to Episode 4 of “The White Lotus”
Sharpe says fans shouldn’t be so quick to root for Ethan
Your opinion on him and your suspicions about him will shift from episode to episode and scene to scene. Once you get to the end, it will be clearer who he is, and why it was such an exciting part for me. Some of the characters present with immediacy, and you have a relatively full sense of them early on.
But Ethan is supposed to be hard to pin down, so they leave space for you to guess. In a way, he’s the straight man to three very funny personalities around him. At some point, that flips and you start to get a deeper sense of everything that he’s been running from or carrying in earlier episodes. My hope is that audiences enjoy watching him, whether he’s a good person or a bad person. All of that moral gray area stuff is really fertile and fun to play in. We’re all human beings — none of us are perfect.
Ethan and Cameron’s toxic friendship on The White Lotus 2
I remember having a conversation with one of our producers, who said, “Sometimes Americans end up being friends with people they hate.” It’s not like Ethan and Cameron were soulmates. They were roommates, and now they happen to both be successful. They’ve stayed in touch, and they’ve been through some shit together, for sure. But it never felt like they were especially close — almost like they were geographical friends.
In terms of going on this holiday, I feel like Ethan said yes to it without really thinking about it. It ends up being way more toxic and complicated than he had ever foreseen. At the beginning, he sort of defends Cameron and Daphne to Harper, but as time goes on he starts to question it, particularly with Cameron. Harper’s prediction that Cameron just wants to do some business with Ethan turns out to be true.
Cameron’s cheek kisses weren’t scripted
He [Theo James] loved doing that. I think it’s his way of being playful and sexually voracious and showing who’s boss in this weird way. It’s like a micro powerplay. But yeah, I noticed that too and would just react to it as I thought Ethan would. Those party scenes were actually very loosely scripted. It was really improvisatory and they would cut it in the edit and use the most helpful bits.