Spoilers ahead for The White Lotus season 3.
The White Lotus must have the best PR team in the hospitality business: In spite of an ongoing string of murders at the resort collection’s luxury hotels, guests are still booking additional stays. Before The White Lotus season 2 even reached its conclusion, HBO green-lit a third season—and there’s at least some chance that Jennifer Coolidge’s character could make an appearance from beyond the grave. The season 2 finale saw the end of Tanya McQuoid-Hunt, thanks to a twisted combination of failed assassination attempt, concussion, and drowning, but showrunner Mike White remains as attached as ever to Coolidge’s character.
The award-winning show received a slew of nominations this award season, including Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli, Theo James, and Will Sharpe), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Jennifer Coolidge, Meghann Fahy, Sabrina Impacciatore, Audrey Plaza, and Simona Tabasco), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. At the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, the show received nine nominations, and won Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling, Outstanding Music Composition, and Outstanding Music Supervision.
There’s little we know about season 3, leaving plenty of room for speculation. Let’s break down the breadcrumbs we have so far.
When will The White Lotus season 3 premiere?
Production for season 3 was delayed due to the 2023 writers and actors’ strikes. The season “probably would have been [released in] 2024,” chairman and CEO Casey Bloys said during an HBO and Max presentation on November 2, but it’s now “pushing into 2025” given the pause. Indeed, the network confirmed in a sizzle reel a month later that The White Lotus season 3 will premiere in 2025.
Not long after the actors’ strike lifted on Nov. 9, 2023, the team released a list of new characters and began casting for the new season. Production is slated to start early February 2024 in Thailand, Deadline reports.
For reference, season 1 debuted in July 2021, and season 2 arrived in October 2022.
Where will the season take place?
HBO confirmed in early January that The White Lotus season 3 will be filmed in Thailand. Guests will be staying at various luxury hotels across the country. HBO didn’t get too specific as to where they’ll be shooting, but they did cite unspecified locations in Bangkok, Phuket, and Koh Samui.
According to Bloomberg, “One executive who was personally involved in the deal says the cast of season 3—including Parker Posey, Carrie Coon and Jason Isaacs—will spend about three months shooting at the Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui starting in February. One plotline features some cast members visiting temples in Phuket, where they’ll stay at another hotel, the same person says. According to other sources, that hotel will be the Anantara Mai Khao Villas Phuket.”
Before HBO confirmed the news, Season 3 was rumored to be set in Thailand, per several sources.
It had seemed, initially, that the show might be eyeing Tokyo as its next spot. (Johnny Knoxville almost revealed the season 3 filming location back in February. He told Vulture in an interview published February 16: “Mike White is a very close friend of mine. He and I had been in Tokyo together. I think that’s where the next … oh, I’m not giving anything away.”) With White planning to explore “eastern religion and spirituality” in the next season, filming in Tokyo made sense, but now Thailand has been dubbed the locale.
What will season 3 of The White Lotus be about?
The third season will follow a new group of guests, just as the season 1 cast passed the baton for season 2. In a post-finale interview on HBO, White teased that the third season will focus on, well, death.
“The first season kind of highlighted money, and then the second season is sex, and I think the third season, it would be a satirical and funny look at death and eastern religion and spirituality. And it feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round of White Lotus,” he said.
Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO Programming and head of HBO drama series and films, didn’t give any specific details about the possible storyline as she announced the season 3 green light, but she did seem excited about White’s vision.
“He’s only continued to reach new heights in season 2, which is the ultimate testament to Mike’s raw, unparalleled vision,” Orsi said earlier. “His courage to explore the uncharted waters of the human psyche, paired with his signature irreverent humor and buoyant directing style, have us all dreaming of more vacation days at the resort we’ve come to adore.”
White told Entertainment Weekly in early November 2023 that season 3 is going to be “a supersized White Lotus” and that he’s “seriously finishing scripts.” He added, “It’s going to be longer, bigger, crazier. I don’t know what people will think, but I am super excited, so at least for my own barometer, that’s a good thing....I’m super excited about the content of the season.”
On Jan. 31, 2024, ET asked new cast member Parker Posey if she had any updates about White Lotus season 3.
“I can’t tell you anything. I signed an NDA. I can’t say anything,” she answered. “It’ll be six months in Thailand. It’s the third [season], so that’s when they get all the juices going, I guess. I got to read it. I love it. I’m really excited.”
Who will be in the cast?
Season 2’s cast was entirely different than season 1’s, with one notable exception: the incomparable Coolidge. Given White’s attachment to Tanya—and his personal adoration for the actress playing her—it seemed possible the showrunner would bring her back for yet another round. But that no longer appears to be the case given how the season 2 finale ended. “Jennifer is my friend and everybody loved her in the first season, and I was like, ‘I can’t go to Italy without Jennifer,’” White previously told Deadline. “And maybe that’s still the case. Like, maybe you can’t go to Japan without Jennifer, either. There are so many fun actors we’ve worked with so far, so it’s just kind of like, who’s available?”
Of course, it’s always possible White dropped this tease as a red herring, in order to throw audiences off the scent of Tanya’s death in the finale. Still, it’s just as likely he’s being genuine, and Tanya could appear next season—perhaps in flashbacks.
Another possible familiar face? Season 1’s Connie Britton. In July, she told Deadline, “[White] wanted me to be in the second season, and there was an idea that I loved for the character. Our intention is to do it in the third season. A piece of casting didn’t work in the second season and we’re hoping to [do] that in the third season. I would love to see a spinoff on every character in that show.”
Other early reports hinted that actress Natasha Rothwell was set to return as Belinda, the spa manager Tanya befriended (and bamboozled) in season 1. Variety broke the news, citing multiple sources with knowledge of the production, and it has since been confirmed. Not much else is known about her storyline at this time.
Apart from Belinda, the team has cast several new characters for season 3, per Deadline. They include Parker Posey, Carrie Coon, Leslie Bibb, Dom Hetrakul, Jason Isaacs, Michelle Monaghan, Tayme Thapthimthong, Miloš Biković, Christian Friedel, Morgana O'Reilly, Lek Patravadi, and Shalini Peiris.
As of January 16, Variety revealed five new cast members: Patrick Schwarzenegger, Aimee Lou Wood, Walton Goggins, Sarah Catherine Hook, and Sam Nivola have all joined season 3.
There are not many repeats from season to season, but Fahy’s Daphne Sullivan could potentially show up...eventually. When asked about what her character is up to by Deadline at its Sundance studio, Fahy said, “She keeps doing what she’s doing.”
She also shared that creator White had an idea for a future episode where the Sullivans, including her husband Cameron (Theo James) and the Pattons, the newlywed couple from season one, played by Alexandra Daddario and Jake Lacy, are all trapped on a boat together.
Fahy said, “He (White) did once say that he’d like to do an episode with Theo, me and the couple from the first season—Alex and Jake; the four of us on a boat. Just one episode of that.”
On Wednesday, February 12, it was revealed that Blackpink’s Lisa would be joining the cast for season 3. Details about her role are being kept a secret. This is Lisa’s first acting role.
What else has Mike White revealed about future seasons?
For now, the busy showrunner has remained focused on preparing for season 3, but he teased that audiences can expect one thing from The White Lotus, no matter the season: murder. In an interview with NPR, he said that the mystery of who dies has driven a lot of interest to the show week after week, so he plans on using the same formula for future chapters.
“It clearly is something that drives interest in the show. People will decide at the conclusion whether it’s satisfying or it feels just device-y, but at this point, I’m excited about the finale,” White says. “As somebody who’s been working in the margins, it is kind of nice to have viewers.”
This story will be updated.
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