‘White Lotus’ Season 2 finale: Portia actress explains it all

Warning: Below are spoilers from the Season 2 finale of “The White Lotus”.

Millions of people watching the Season 2 finale of “White Lotus” across the country on Sunday night were in unison, “Portia, for God’s sake, what are you doing? Don’t get in that car!”

Few TV characters in the recent past have been as wonderfully annoying as the exhausted 20-something assistant and chaos agent played by Haley Lu Richardson in the second installment of HBO’s hit mystery. In the spring of 1999, Portia, wearing divisive outfits that seem to have popped out of Delia’s catalog and inspired many social media debates, heads to Sicily in hopes of an adventure with her boss, overhead heir Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge). , but in the end he gets much more than he bargained for.

During a particularly eventful week in Italy, she begins flirting with good guy Albie (Adam DiMarco) and dreams her up for Jack (Leo Woodall), who looks like a cute, fun-loving “Love Island” rejection but transforms. Being the key player in a nefarious plan to send Tanya to sleep with the fishes. By the end of Sunday’s finale, Portia narrowly escaped a abduction and went to the airport, where she learned that the others were not so lucky.

While the name Portia was trending on Twitter Monday afternoon, The Times caught up with Richardson, who previously starred as a pregnant teen in the abortion journey movie “Unpregnant.” Is Portia trending? Oh, no, I don’t even want to know what people are saying anymore. “I am afraid,” he said. “I’ve never been in something that I thought was watched by so many people.”

How did you rationalize her decisions, especially when playing Portia in Sunday’s episode? He’s making some very bad choices, like getting in the car with Jack, and seems to be blatantly ignoring his right intuition that something is terribly wrong.

Portia does not depend on her intuition and instincts. He doesn’t really know himself. She is in the most stuck and disconnected place a young woman can be. So, within the confines of this and this worst-case scenario situation, I really think he’s doing his best. I think he’s slow to notice things and see clues that are serious red flags. But I don’t think she’s doing a bad job. I had a lot of empathy for her when I played Portia because that’s what you have to do as an actress, but I was actually proud of her when we shot the scene where she gets in the car and confronts Jack. She is doing something. It’s called here.

TRUE. And she confronts him about his relationship with his “uncle” Quentin (Tom Hollander) by saying one of the episode’s great words, “Yeah, so you – your uncle?”

[Series creator] Mike [White] and we both really hope this becomes a big meme.

This is funny. Are you aware of some level of how your performance might be received on social media?

I wasn’t really conscious of that, because as an actor you really have no place for it. I needed to think about Portia and her fear and how scary that was for her. After seeing that scene a few times, Mike gave me some notes. “Can you make a version of him more like digging?” He knew what that moment was and what that sentence was supposed to be—the perfect balance of solid but also ridiculous and funny.

What were you trying to play in that final scene at the airport where Portia meets Albie and learns that Tanya is probably dead?

Portia is so overwhelmed. Just try to imagine that you are in his position. Literally alone, just kidnapped, completely abandoned. The anxiety he felt must have been very severe. He then sees Albie, who gives him some reassurance, so he is drawn to her and Albie tells him that someone is drowning.

There are a few seconds when she starts to realize that this is most likely Tanya but she can’t. There’s a lot a 24-year-old woman can handle at any given moment. The moment she starts to realize this and process it, she has to cut off the relationship and then resort to asking him for her phone number. I think it’s objectively hilarious and ridiculous, the randomness of how things end up with them.

Haley Lu Richardson and Leo Woodall in “White Lotus.”

(Fabio Lovino / HBO)

We don’t know much about Portia or her background or anyone else in the series. Did Mike White ever help you fill in the blanks?

While all you really know about Portia is what you’ve seen this week, you totally get the gist of who she is. And that’s the only thing that really matters when portraying a character. I could sit there and think about what family life was like and how long you’ve worked for Tanya – and I did – but if you get the gist of the person you’re playing, it’s almost creepy. I understood his deepest desires. I understood her deepest insecurities and it was all I really needed to bring her back to life.

What did you think of the scene where Tanya tells Portia she’s a younger version of herself?

I’ve definitely seen the parallels. And I think that was really intentional. Even talking to Mike, we Zoomed in talking about the character before we started filming. And it was like, “I want you to dye your hair blonde.” And “Well, I think Portia is a little Tanya in many ways.” And I think Portia saw signs of that too, even if it was the last thing she wanted to admit to herself. It also gave me more freedom, she. My original view of Portia was well-meaning, down-to-earth, and serious. But then I saw that there were these parallels between Portia and Tanya, it gave me a little more freedom to be chaotic.

Speaking of chaotic, people have a lot to say about Portia’s fashion choices. What do you think his clothes say about the character?

One thing that has been a very useful part of the process for me as an actor is creating what this person looks like – hair, makeup and costume. Doing something that feels certain so that I feel like myself when I wear these clothes. All I want is to put together things that will make me more connected to the person I’m playing. And costumes were a big part of that for Portia, it’s eclectic… chaotic, messy, lost but cute [style]. He’s aware of trends and takes risks, but it’s not working.

A young man and woman come face to face in front of automatic glass doors.

Adam DiMarco and Haley Lu Richardson in the Season 2 finale of “The White Lotus.”

(Stefano Delia / HBO)

Did you have a favorite look or a look that you thought said the most about her at that moment?

His first look and his last look were big for me. His appearance in the resort is very different from all other guests. They are all dressed in beautiful designer outfits and Portia is wearing jeans and a swan sweater and she is distraught and already exhausted. And then, as crazy as the last outfit at the airport, with her disguise in a hat and big sunglasses, means a lot to me. She’s the perfect Portia at the moment.

Portia is one of the only people still alive who can help trace the crime back to Tanya’s husband, Greg (Jon Gries). Do you think Portia will one day come forward and help bring her to justice? Maybe in Season 3?

I really hoped, but hope isn’t really one of the show’s themes. It can go in many different directions. This experience can really humiliate him and really help him develop in a positive way. Or it might piss him off even more. I’d like to think you helped Tanya get her revenge, but I also don’t know what Greg would have done if he had come to her with the money to shut up.

You shared on Instagram that you wrote a letter expressing your hopes of working with Mike White, and that letter came true. Can you give me more information about this?

Something called a script letter. I literally watched a YouTube tutorial on how to write a script letter. This girl is giving step by step [instructions]. It’s a really great way of presenting yourself where you write a letter as your future self who already has everything you want and are grateful for them. one of the things [in the letter] He was working with Mike White. And a few months later I auditioned for Season 2, and then I got the job. Honestly, manifesting is legal.

Was this because of Season 1?

Yes, I watched Season 1 with the rest of the world but even before that I was a fan. Mike is so unique. “Brad’s Status” is one of my favorite movies. He’s very good at capturing what life really is like and how people are, but in this funny, sarcastic, almost spiritual way.

What did you learn by working with your co-stars, especially Jennifer Coolidge?

Honestly, it was really inspiring how free he was as an actor, sitting across from him at the breakfast table onstage and just watching him do his job. “Oh wow, I hope to experience that kind of freedom at some point in my career because it seems like a total blast.”

I don’t know what will happen in Season 3 but I support Portia’s comeback.

This should be our next script letter to see Portia return for Season 3.

“White Lotus”

Streaming: HBO Max, always

Evaluation: TV-MA (May not be suitable for children under 17)

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