By Rollo Ross
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - HBO's latest mini-series "The White Lotus," about vacationers at an exclusive hotel in Hawaii, was launched at the equally swanky Bel-Air Bay Club in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
The series, which begins streaming on HBO on Sunday, opens with a body being loaded onto a plane. From there, it returns to the beginning of the vacation and follows holiday-makers and hotel staff as their paths steadily intertwine.
"It's a social satire, it's a comedy but it's really dark," said actor Steve Zahn, who plays a father who believes he is dying. "There's redemption and there's love ... but it really is a comment on who we are today."
Each episode takes place on one day of a weeklong vacation. As every day passes, the characters' situations become more complex.
A bickering honeymooning couple and a wealthy family in which the mother is the breadwinner make up some of the hotel guests, while the staff include a manager who is a recovering addict and a holistic masseuse trying to get her big break.
Jennifer Coolidge, who plays a woman trying to scatter her dead mother's ashes, said Mike White, who wrote, directed and created the series, has such an uncanny ability to understand people's behaviour that he even talked her out of not doing the show.
"I was trying to get out of this job because I felt like I was too fat for camera," Coolidge said.
"It was two in the morning and my little phone on my bed dinged and I looked down at my phone and it was a text from Mike White and it just said, 'Are you afraid?'. How did he know? How did he know?"
Shot at the height of the pandemic, the cast had to isolate together to stay safe. The camaraderie formed during the filming was palpable at the premiere, where the actors hugged and chatted like old friends.
"Some people couldn't see their kids for two and a half months so (we were) very lucky to have such great people that you could lean on when tough stuff happened," said actor Alexandra Daddario.
(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Karishma Singh and Gerry Doyle)