How Adam DiMarco went from Disney to The White Lotus
Call Sheet: Starring as sweet Stanford grad Albie in the show’s brilliant second series, this Canadian actor can now tick working with HBO off his career bucket list. Not bad for a shy uni dropout, eh?
If you’ve already taken a trip to Sicily via the second series of The White Lotus (and if not, perché no?), then you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Adam DiMarco is like in real life.
He plays Albie Di Grasso, a bashful Stanford grad who’s taken a back-to-his-roots trip to the scenic Italian island with the too-horny-for-their-own-good men in his family. Albie’s dad and grandad, played by Michael Imperioli and F. Murray Abraham, respectively, are nothing like him, though. He’s the moral compass of this lads’ holiday: sweet, sensitive and a little bit shy. And while the rest of the characters are, as in the first series, deliciously wayward, Albie’s potential holiday romance with Haley Lu Richardson’s character is the show’s meet-cutest corner.
Zooming in from LA, where Canadian actor is staying while series two of The White Lotus hits screens, DiMarco displays much of the same qualities. “It’s been overwhelming, but it’s mostly positive,” he says of feverish fan feedback he’s received since the first episode dropped. Up until this point, DiMarco admits he’s been a little bit in his head, analysing his performance and thinking about what he could have done differently. “I’m just so relieved that the show’s finally out, because now I’m less anxious about it. It’s just out there and you can’t change anything.”
DiMarco’s pre-launch nerves are understandable. After all, The White Lotus was the only TV show anyone could talk about when the first series aired last summer. Its skewering of privilege, combined with a holiday setting, gave us the chance to vicariously vacation like the one per cent, while also taking the piss out of them. The dream, right?
Having starred in Netflix’s The Order and Disney Channel flick Radio Rebel, DiMarco is by no means a stranger to the spotlight. But this is undoubtedly the biggest project he’s worked on – something the 32-year-old doesn’t take for granted, having worked in the industry for over a decade. (He still makes a convincing recent grad, though.)
“These were the best scripts I’ve ever read. It’s probably the most talented cast I’ve ever worked with. The location is beautiful, we were staying in five star hotels. It’s HBO, which [is a company that] has always been a bucket list dream to work with,” he says, before laughing in disbelief. “It’s going to be hard to beat. It’s all downhill from here!”
For now, though, DiMarco’s just chilling, taking a moment to breathe and recalibrate after a four-month shoot in the Mediterranean and a tense run up to the show’s launch. He had therapy this morning and, later, he’s meeting some old friends that he hasn’t seen in a while – a dose of normality to counter the barrage of texts and praise he’s received since The White Lotus launched at the end of October.
But those mates will have to wait just a little longer. Right now, we’ve got some very important questions to ask about how got into all this showbiz stuff in the first place.
The TV show that made me want to get into acting is…
Weirdly enough, it was [JJ Abrams’] Lost. I went to university for a year, studying life sciences, and I was just deeply unhappy. That show was kind of my escape. Then I started thinking about the film industry, and being a writer or actor seemed like a fun job. I’d say that show inspired me, and Matthew Fox who was leading it. I was like: “Oh, he’s such a good actor!”
I beat my shyness by…
I went to film school [in Canada] and studied acting for a year and a half – it was a fast-tracked conservatory programme. My shyness comes up as an issue sometimes, but back then it was debilitating, so I think I needed the class setting to bring me out of that shell. At first I was put on academic probation because my teachers were like: “You have to do more than you’re doing. You have to commit or be more vulnerable.” After that wake-up call, it pushed me to go for it more, and I really enjoyed it. Then one of my teachers recommended me to their agent and I started auditioning right away. Which was pretty lucky.
The first time I performed on stage was…
I did a play in elementary school called The Trial of Alice in Wonderland. I remember having so many nightmares [in which] I wouldn’t know my lines. My first thing after training was a scene study from The Graduate at film school. I was playing Dustin Hoffman’s character, when his love interest finds out that he slept with her mother, Mrs. Robinson – a dramatic scene! There was a moment where I took a sip of water and I started choking because it went down the wrong pipe. Everyone thought that it was a character choice, but it wasn’t. I was just trying not to cough and it was making me cough even more! But everyone loved it and afterwards came up to me like: “That was so cool, great choice!” That was very memorable, because it taught me that mistakes can be gold.
The biggest lie I’ve ever told to get a part was…
I’ve never ridden a horse, but every time they ask if I can, I say “Absolutely!” I feel most actors lie about things like that because you can just learn it. It’s different if it’s something like skateboarding because you can’t really learn how to drop into a half-pipe and do a 900. There was one actor I worked with who told me that he lied about being able to sing opera. I was like: “What was your end game?” He was like: “I didn’t really think about it. I just wanted the role.” I don’t think I would ever lie on that level.
The project that taught me the most about myself was…
The White Lotus because it’s the longest I’ve ever worked on something. I was there for four months. That’s also the longest I’ve been away from home. There was a lot of learning and growing. Now, the next time it happens, I’ll have this experience to compare it to. I also grew a lot as an actor working with this cast. F. Murray Abraham and Michael Imperioli, Haley Lu [Richardson]… they’re all just such amazing, awarded actors. Also, talking to [series creator, writer and director] Mike White about my insecurities [really helped]. He convinced me that no, you belong at the table with them as well. It was pretty reaffirming.
The coolest place I visited while filming The White Lotus in Sicily was…
Some cast members took trips if they had a week off – they went to Paris or London for a week. But I stayed because I’m half Italian and I love Italy. I thought Sicily was so beautiful. I loved [one of the filming locations] Cefalù. There was this really cool swimming hole by our hotel, so a bunch of us would take little midday dips in. Then it was just a short walk into town and there’s cool vintage shops and all these unique small businesses, street vendors who have their own crafts and stuff. But anywhere you went had that. You could go to any beach or any restaurant in Sicily and it’s going to be interesting visually – and the food’s going to be good!
My dream role is…
There’s so many. It’d be cool to do a little bit of everything. I want to do a comedy, something like The Office. But then I would also love to play a superhero. And I would love to do a Broadway play. I just want to try my luck at everything.