At Your Service — Murray Bartlett Previews His Resort Manager Character on ‘The White Lotus’

Jolene Purdy The White Lotus Murray Bartlett
Q&A
Mario Perez/HBO

Mike White (Enlightened), the reality show contestant turned TV show creator/showrunner, is inviting viewers to check into The White Lotus on HBO this weekend. The series, which features an all-star cast including Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls), and Steve Zahn (The Crossing), tells the story of several dysfunctional characters who come to an exclusive Hawaiian resort as they search for answers – or at least a respite from their respective dramas.

The show takes place over the span of a week but it probably feels like an eternity for Murray Bartlett’s (Looking) character Armond, who, as The White Lotus resort manager, deals with the endless demands of his guests – perhaps at the expense of his own life.

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TV Insider chatted with Bartlett at The White Lotus premiere party held at Pacific Palisades’ swanky Bel-Air Bay Club which overlooks the ocean. We also chatted the actor about a few of his other TV credits including Looking, Sex and the City, and Guiding Light. Read on for the scoop!

You get to have scenes with almost everyone as Armond is manager of The White Lotus. How cool was that?

Murray Bartlett: I feel like the lucky one. I do get have scenes with everyone. We have an amazing group of actors and I get to be a part of all of their stories.

What’s Armond’s background?

Armond wanted to be an actor. I, like most actors, also worked in hospitality for a time. So, I can relate to that part of him that’s screaming to get out.

The White Lotus Murray Bartlett Connie Britton Steve Zahn

The White Lotus (Mario Perez/HBO)

What does Armond want out of life?

I think he’s realizing that he doesn’t truly know what he wants. Working at The White Lotus is his world. Acting didn’t work out for him so he became this showman. As time has gone on and he’s gotten older, (chuckles) he realizes he’s miserable being a servant to these obnoxious privileged people! At the same time, he treats people whom he considers to be “below the rung” not always well. He does have a little more self-awareness and reflects on who he is.

What attracted you to this series and this role?

I’ve always wanted to work with Mike White [White Lotus’ creator/executive producer/writer/director]. He wrote this amazing complex character who goes on this roller coaster ride. It’s kind of a dream for me in that Mike is someone I really wanted to work with. He wrote this show in August and we started shooting it in October. The scripts are so rich, complete, and complicated. It was so excited to read them. I would have played any role in this but the fact that I got to play Armond is amazing.

Looking Frankie J. Alvarez Jonathan Groff Murray Bartlett

Looking (Richard Foreman / © HBO / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

Many still lament the loss of Looking, the HBO series that examined the lives of three gay men and their friends in San Francisco. There wasn’t anything like that on TV.

We felt that way, too!

It was rare that a show is able to come back for a movie wrap-up. We got to see your character Dom and the others one last time.

Yes. We were lucky. It was amazing that we got to do that. It’s awful when things are left hanging and you want to go back and have some sense of completion. We all loved that show so dearly. We were really sad to know that we weren’t having a third season but we were overjoyed that we got to come back and resolve things in a movie. I don’t know [exactly] why were given that but I do know the fans who loved the show were very vocal about it. Maybe they’re the reason it happened?

Your first U.S. acting credit was Oliver Spencer, Carrie’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) platonic pal on Sex and the City.

Yes. I was spotted for that for years especially when I was in New York – even five, ten years after the show ended. It’s such a cult series.

It’s coming back. Maybe Oliver needs to visit Carrie?

Wouldn’t that be great. (Chuckles) If they don’t have my number, please send it to them!

Guiding Light Murray Bartlett

Guiding Light (Robert Voets / © CBS / Courtesy: Everett Collection)

One of your co-stars from Guiding Light, Marj Dusay, who played Alexandra, passed away last year. Do you have any memories of working with her?

Oh, my god. What a force of nature! [Marj] was so kind and generous. And she was also like a little girl. She had such a youthful energy. We did an episode where we got to kiss after our characters [Alexandra and Cyrus] got married. She came at me and smacked this big kiss on me! It was so free and she didn’t hold back. It was awesome. I loved that moment. She was an awesome woman.

Back to White Lotus, can you talk more about what it’s like working with Mike White?

He’s a genius. I love the way he sees the world and how he observes human nature and the way in which he captures it. Being able to say his words and play a character he’s created is a singular experience. It’s complex. It’s a gift to have someone like him be at the helm. He’s so brilliant. I completely trusted him. We were doing a lot of big, funny, and intense stuff. This show is filled with so many different levels. I felt safe and that he had my back.

White Lotus Murray Bartlett Jolene Purdy Natasha Rothwell Lukas Gage

The White Lotus (Mario Perez/HBO)

What’s next for you?

I’m working with HBO [again] but I’m not allowed to say on what. I can say that I am very happy to be working with them!

The White Lotus, Limited Series Premiere, Sunday, July 11, 9/8c, HBO