Leo Woodall Was Surprised About That ‘White Lotus’ Reveal

Leo Woodall
Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Spoiler for the fifth episode of The White Lotus season two, “It’s Amore.”

Halfway through the second season of The White Lotus, a new bomb enters the villa – or, rather, the former monastery converted into a luxury hotel. He’s a strapping chap from Essex called Jack, and he’s believed to be Tom Hollander’s character Quentin’s cousin. He comes hard for Haley Lu Richardson’s Portia, breaking up her young dynamic with Adam DiMarco’s Albie and convincing her to tour Sicily with him. Things are looking up for Portia’s love life until the end of episode five, when he leaves her for a moment to “do something for his uncle”. That’s when Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) finds him fucking Quentin – so, probably not actually his nephew! The revelation caught even Woodall off guard. “I was told that I might have a rumble and tumble with some characters, but I didn’t know who.”

So when you signed up for the role of Tom Hollander’s “cousin,” did you know you’d be having sex with him, too?
Well, not right when I signed up, but it wasn’t too long after. I was told I might have a rumble and tumble with some characters, but I didn’t know who. When I was told that Tom Hollander was playing my uncle, I was already delighted. Then the news broke about that moment and I just had about ten seconds of silence and digested it.

Can you share any tips on what’s actually going on there?
Not really. [Laughs.] Not at all!

What was it like filming that scene?
Tom and I were both a little nervous, but Mike White was very light about everything, especially on the day. We were filming other things before, and he was like, “… Are you ready?” We had a very good intimacy coordinator, took it seriously but also had fun with it. Definitely a bonding moment.

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How do you mentally prepare for such scenes?
The whole job was about mental preparation to go to the best show in the world, so everything that came with it required some mental preparation. My first day of filming was actually that sexy scene with Haley. This was the introduction to this work. Quite rock and roll!

Did you feel pressure in the second season of a show that was such a hit in season one?
It was a combination of “Pinch me” and “How am I going to do this?” I watched the first season not knowing there was an audition in my inbox for season two. I fell in love with the show, and just a few weeks later I saw that I had an audition for the next season. Going into it, I thought some stars had aligned and I had to, regardless of the pressure, have as much fun as I could.

What was it like working with Tom Hollander outside of the sex scene?He is a gentleman and a true professional. There was a moment where he gave me a real boost because I was feeling very overwhelmed early on. On our second day of shooting, he just kind of figuratively put an arm around me and was supportive. I have a lot of respect for that.

With the show arriving mid-season, did you start filming later as well?
I arrived maybe a week or two after some of the others. But I had to go back and forth from London for the first month or so. We all became friends and I started to get FOMO so I decided not to leave. They did the karaoke when I was in London so that was a deciding factor in having to stay.

What was it like staying in that hotel while filming there?
I fell in love with that place. It’s amazing to watch the show, to look down those corridors and have so many memories of those rooms, the dining area, that bar. I arrived at midnight and was already like Oh, that’s cooland when i woke up to the view i just thought, What happened to me? Then, in the last week we were there, it was operational again, and suddenly it was a different hotel. But some of the real employees at the hotel are in the show, which is cool. They really looked after us.

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Do you have a favorite thing you did when you weren’t filming?
There was a really fun day where me, Meghann, Adam, Beatrice, Simona, Haley and Aubrey went to a beach and swam out to this big rock. There was very of evenings out. There was a fun day where Meghann and I went to the beach and came back and Murray Abraham sat down and had a drink and we joined him for a few hours and hung out. Do you know what the Grand National is? It is this annual horse race in the UK. I got Meghann that morning to bet on a horse and I bet on one, and when we were with Murray I realized it was happening. I got my phone out and mine and Meghann’s horse was in front. My horse won and I went crazy. Murray was so happy for me until he realized I hadn’t bet money on it properly. He was like, “I thought you won 100,000?” And I was like, “No, I just won glory.”

It is important that Jack and Portia have more chemistry than Albie and Portia. How did you work on it?
We went for coffee the day before we filmed that scene. We talked trash for a few hours and she asked me about my zodiac signs, which I didn’t know much about. I knew a lot when she educated me.

So what are your zodiac signs?
I honestly can’t remember. I know I’m a Virgo, but she told me my moon landing, or rising, or whatever it is. I have to text to get the whole thing.

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Are you from Essex yourself?
I’m from West London. But there are definitely a lot of people I know from Essex. My stepsister is from Essex so it was fun to lean on. I didn’t want to do a straight, stereotypical Essex person that you might see The only way is Essex. Mike allowed me, as with Tom, to bring out the Englishness more, if that makes sense.

how so?
Bits of language, and the little tweaks that an American person might not say. Like, in England, we use “fit.”

The other actors told me they felt like Mike brought elements of their own personality to the characters. Did you feel that happening?
One hundred percent. There’s something crazy about how incredible his script is, but how comfortable and easy he is. He encouraged us to mess around. In episode four when we’re at the bar, I made up a line where I say, “Dos Jägermeister, dos Red Bull,” because I thought it would be funny for him to speak Spanish to an Italian bartender. I thought Mike would cut it, but I think he put it in!

Maybe it’s the way he says “villa”, but Jack feels a bit like a Love Island participant.
Oh, I definitely thought Jack might slip in Love Island. He could go from one villa to the next.

What was it like filming in that villa that Quentin supposedly owns?
It was massive. The inside was very strange. There are all these crazy paintings and antiques everywhere. The bedrooms were really dark.

An unnerving place to film a sex scene!
There was a picture of a dog on the wall, and Tom was like, “Maybe put the dog there, while we’re in doggy style.”


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