U White Lotus In the second season, Mike White sends the privileged characters of his wildly funny HBO series to a luxury resort in Sicily. Here we find F. Murray Abraham as Bert DiGrasse, a widowed patriarch who travels with his son Dominic (Michael Imperioli) and grandson Albie (Adam DiMarco) on an extraordinary journey to discover their ancestral roots.
Burt, who at first comes across as a sweet and kind grandfather, flirts with every young woman he meets, farts audibly at inappropriate times, and generally says whatever is on his mind. (The first episode also features a family dinner conversation between the three men about the mechanics of onanism in the eighties.) Because this is F. Murray Abraham, known for his booming voice and legendary roles as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus and Omar Suarez A face with a scarthe performance is still quite charming and imbued with unusual importance.
Here Abraham is talking to GQ about working with Mike White in Sicily, his memories of the shoot Amadeus and A face with a scar at the same time in the early 1980s, and what he finds connected to Burt.
GQ: How did you get the role of Bert Di Grasso?
F. Murray Abraham: It’s one of those lucky coincidences that happen. Mike White – I can’t say enough about him. It’s not often that you have a whole atmosphere of positivity, creativity and fun. Wes Anderson, the same thing happens on his set. And the Coen brothers. It’s like a little gift from heaven. I’m not kidding.
Mike is one of the most idiosyncratic people working in Hollywood right now. What is he like when he controls you?
It’s perfect because it insists you try to find it yourself. Or he’ll say it’s not disgusting enough. He kept pushing me to be … well, you know how I feel about my son in this matter.
It really always attacks and attacks. And he said, “Go on. Go on. Don’t let it bother you, because it doesn’t bother you.” And after a while it became fun. The irony is that Michael and I became very good friends. He and his wife and I were a trio. We spent a lot of time together. By the way, until now.
So what attracted you to Bert?
Well, he really is a relic. He is completely out of step with today. One of the reasons I think he gets away with some of the outrageous things he says is because he’s innocent. And he is not ashamed. He does not censor himself.
I have to tell you that these days, especially in our business, you have to be censorious in your thoughts. About how you express yourself. I come from the Burt era. I’m certainly not proud of that whole era. I’m actually a feminist. And that’s the last thing Bert is.
But he also makes me laugh, this character. He is charming. He’s so outrageous that when I played him and said some of those horrible things, I made myself laugh. And I hope that happens with the audience. They forgive him these things because it is so outrageous.