Meghann Fahy and Theo James Tell All on Their Twisted ‘White Lotus’ Love Story: They’re ‘Cut From the Same Cloth’

Theo James has been asked ad nauseam about his prosthetic penis in “The White Lotus,” and Meghann Fahy is starting to feel left out. “Nobody ever asks me about my prosthetic,” she says with a laugh.

When the two reunite over Zoom to discuss their roles, they’re perfectly in sync and often answer questions in unison, evoking their characters’ deliciously duplicitous cat-and- mouse relationship.

In the second season of Mike White’s hit HBO drama, they star as cunning finance businessman Cameron and chipper stay-at-home-mom Daphne, who are vacationing with strait-laced couple Ethan and Harper (Will Sharpe and Aubrey Plaza, respectively). After engaging in the world’s most elaborate “Wife Swap” plot, they depart Sicily as loved-up as ever — and perhaps rubbing off on their friends.

Along with the rest of the cast, Fahy and James earned a SAG Award in February for ensemble in a drama, on a night they both describe as “really special” — well, from what they can recall. “Me and Meghann were four martinis in at that point, so we barely remember,” James laughs. “Negronis,” Fahy corrects. “But yes, four of them.”

Despite all the deception and infidelity, are Cameron and Daphne really right for each other?

Meghann Fahy: I think they’re actually happy. I have to imagine that there’s some part of Daphne that enjoys it. There were very few things that Mike was really specific about with us at the beginning, and one of them was that the truth behind their love and affection and the way that they play with each other were very real for both of them. To me, that was the only thing I really needed to know moving forward about the relationship: the genuine enjoyment that they both have for the other person.

Theo James: Because it’s fairly opaque — each character’s intentions and motivations — you have to anchor yourselves to those bits and pieces. And for me, it was always that when Cameron comes back, he says, “I missed you. Don’t ever leave me. I love you.” It’s playful, but what it means is that he’s driven to the sex, to pushing the boundaries, sure, by a piece of his animalism.

But he’s also driven it there out of insecurity, as often is the case with toxic masculinity: deep insecurity in the foundations of his own personhood. He feels he needs to do this to be powerful. In reality, when he comes back to the person that he loves, and safety and home, all he wants to say is, “That shit is now history, and it kind of makes me feel gross. And don’t leave me again because you made me fall into the hands of the devil.” Which is also very manipulative in its own way.

The moment when Ethan tells Daphne he believes something happened between their spouses, Daphne’s face tells such a story. What’s going through her head in that moment?

Fahy: Daphne doesn’t have a lot of female friends. We learned that in the first few episodes. I think that she genuinely wants to be friends with Harper and gets to a point where she feels like they maybe are. The scene where she’s showing her the picture of her kid and talking about the trainer is really her confiding in who she feels like is a friend. Cool girl gossip shit, you know?

I don’t think that she feels as betrayed by Cameron in the end, because she’s very well- versed on the dynamic of that relationship, and they’re quite comfortable in it. I think that she thought that Harper was a friend, and then is really devastated to learn that’s not the case.

Does Cameron have any idea that he may not be the father of one of their children?

James: No, I think he can’t know because of his ego. I think he’s aware that Daphne has power over him. Now, this evolution of something that perhaps he assumed would be one-way in a very old, patriarchal way has become much more complex. He probably knows that it doesn’t just flow in his direction — that Daphne has the power to do things in an extramarital way, but he just doesn’t ask and forces himself not to think about it.

Harper discovers a condom wrapper in the room after Ethan and Cameron’s wild night. Did Cameron leave that intentionally to sow chaos?

James: I think that’s exactly what he intends to do. That’s a good way of describing it: sowing chaos. Part of it is mischievous. He passes it off as just fun and that’s part of his energy, but also beneath that, he’s villainous, he’s nefarious and he wants to undercut Ethan and belittle him in front of his wife.

I don’t even know if he’s attracted to Harper, but it’s about conquest. That’s always what Cameron represented to me. It’s the animal. He is, in many ways, the base version of ourselves. In other ways, his need for one-upmanship is the height of male toxicity.

Mimetic desire, as Ethan puts it.

James: It’s an interesting take about society: mimetic desire has now consumed most of Western culture, hasn’t it? It’s how we interact, but it’s also how we sell things on the internet. It’s how we go on holiday. It’s so ingrained in every part of our being. Interestingly, Ethan says it’s mimetic desire. But then, conversely, Cameron manages to flip Ethan into that way of thinking, even though he’s the one that recognizes it, and seemingly, is above it. By the end, Ethan is so consumed by jealousy that he kind of falls into that trap, too.

Do you believe Harper told Ethan the full truth of what happened between her and Cameron?

James: No, I don’t think so. I think it was more than was suggested, definitely. From Ethan’s reaction, he doesn’t believe anything. I think he assumes, and the audience assumes, that it’s more. But I don’t think they had sex. So that’s to say … third base!

On that note, what really happened between Ethan and Daphne on that secluded island?

Fahy: The furthest that Will and I ever got in terms of deciding was just that something did happen. I don’t think there was sex. But maybe there was other stuff. I don’t think anybody sealed the deal, because I don’t really think that’s what it was about.

From Daphne’s perspective, taking him to the island was a strangely compassionate moment. She saw how ill-equipped he was to deal with the situation he’d found himself in, and she’s got this whole toolbox. She knows exactly how to navigate that. I think she wanted to empower him in some way so that he felt like he could move through it. I think she succeeded in that.

Will Cameron and Daphne’s marriage last?

James: That line when she says that it’s kind of sexy, not knowing everything — she kind of gets off on that. They have this no- questions-asked policy. It goes into the ether. And it’s quite mysterious, but it also feeds his own jealousy and insecurity. But then it also keeps feeding this cyclical thing.

Fahy: Yeah, I think they just keep doing this forever. The scene in Noto when she’s in the pool, literally giggling about triggering his abandonment wound — she’s enjoying it. I really do think that they’re cut from the same cloth in that way. She’s playing with him as much as he’s playing with her. And they both know it.

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