‘The White Lotus’ Star Adam DiMarco on Why Albie Isn’t an Incel and a Future With Portia: ‘He’s Definitely Going to Text Her’

Adam DiMarco
Courtesy Independent PR

SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for Season 2 of “The White Lotus,” now streaming on HBO Max.

When the highly anticipated Season 2 finale of HBO’s “The White Lotus” aired on Sunday night, even breakout star Adam DiMarco was surprised by what he saw.

“I knew what was coming, but it still had me screaming and yelling,” DiMarco tells Variety over the phone on Monday morning.

In a jaw-dropping twist on the Mike White-created series, Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) shoots the gays (as she calls them) who have been conspiring to kill her aboard a yacht, and then falls off the boat to her own death. Meanwhile, DiMarco’s Albie Di Grasso negotiates with his father Dom (Michael Imperioli) to give him 50,000€ to help sex worker Lucia (Simona Tabasco). In return, he promises to put in a good word for Dom with his mother. However, after spending one last night together, Lucia dashes away the next morning, effectively scamming Albie and his family.

There’s been much discussion on Twitter this season about Albie’s nice-guy persona, leading some viewers (and journalists) to deem him an incel who secretly resents women, despite his attempts to make his father and grandfather (F. Murray Abraham) aware of their own misogyny. For example, while on a date with Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) in Episode 2, she asks him if he’s a nice guy, to which he responds: “Girls always complain that guys aren’t nice, but then if they find a nice guy, they’re not always interested.”

This scenario is exactly what happens between Albie and Portia, who soon ditches him for Essex bad boy Jack (Leo Woodall). But in the finale, after Portia discovers Jack isn’t who she thought he was — because he’s fucking his maybe-uncle Quentin (Tom Hollander), and is also trying to kill her boss — the two have a surprise reunion at the airport and exchange numbers.

So, do nice guys really finish last, after all? We’ll see!

Below, DiMarco teases a future between Albie and Portia, explains why Albie isn’t an incel (after Googling the definition of the word) and shares how the show led him to meeting Nathan Fielder.

That finale was insane. When did you find out how Albie’s story was ending and what was your initial reaction?   

We got the first six scripts, and then we had to wait a bit to get seven. Even watching the finale, I knew what was going to happen but I was still surprised by everything I was seeing. That’s just like Mike’s storytelling ability. In regards to Albie, I mean, I had a bad feeling when I was reading it with the Lucia thing and the 50,000€. Then Alessio, this pimp, came out of nowhere who wasn’t there for the first three episodes. As a reader, I was kind of hesitant for Albie. I was kind of protective of him. But as an actor, all of that was really fun to play. I really didn’t see that reunion with Portia coming. I was kind of hoping that it would happen, but I was like, I don’t see how this is ever going to happen. So that was a really fun surprise. And it was in an airport, like a romantic comedy moment or something. 

What do you think happens when they get back to L.A. — do they get together, or go on one date and never talk again?

Anything is possible, right? I think when you’re on vacation it’s really different from when you’re back in the real world, so maybe things would be a lot better in the context of real life. Maybe Portia would be looking for something a little more stable and less volatile because it becomes real. Maybe Jack is what she wanted at that moment, a little excitement, and got that out of her system. All I know is that Albie is definitely going to reach out, he’s definitely going to text her. Maybe she’ll lose her phone again or drop it in the toilet, I don’t know — I feel like Portia is very unpredictable.

I feel like she needs a few weeks to recover from what she went through.

There’s going to be some trauma bonding going on between them, for sure. 

Albie presents himself as this “nice guy” who is very nervous and innocent around girls. How did you tap into that mindset?

Albie’s a lot younger than I am, so I tried to connect my past experience and more naive — and maybe even more romantic — side. He seems like he’s experiencing a lot of this stuff for the first time. I’m hoping he’s learned that trust is something that’s not assumed, it has to be earned, going forward. In terms of playing up the nerves or anxiety, I think just working on a project of this kind of scope with these amazing actors, initially walking into it, I was feeling both of those things organically. So I just tried to keep a little bit of that throughout filming because I found it useful for the character.

I find it kind of interesting that that happened — not really method acting, but a lazy version of it. When I wrapped, I called Haley Lu, and she was like, “You sound different.” She felt like I had let a lot of Albie’s stuff go pretty much immediately after we wrapped, so that was kind of cool. 

Many people on the internet have been calling Albie an incel. What was your reaction to that discourse, and do you agree?

Well, hmm. So incel means… involuntary celibate? 

Yeah, so kind of like a guy who has resentment toward women because they don’t view him as desirable in a sexual way.

Oh, wow. Wait, I’m Googling it now. “Incels are heterosexual men who blame women and society for their lack of romantic success; A subset of the online misogynist ‘manosphere.'” I would not classify him as that, personally. I don’t think he’s celibate. 

I mean, he’s not: He literally has sex.

I mean, they can call him that if they want, I don’t know. 

I think it’s mainly because of the comments he made about being a “nice guy.”

Yeah, I think other people have to call you a nice guy, I don’t think you can call yourself a “nice guy.” That’s the trap right there. I think the “wounded bird” comment also rubbed people the wrong way, when he said [he’s attracted to] “pretty, wounded birds.” But then I was thinking about a literal bird flying up to your window — wouldn’t you, like, want to nurse it? I think maybe he doesn’t have the best selection of words to describe it, but I think he’s an empathetic guy who is just figuring it out. 

Obviously, he doesn’t have the best examples in his life, right? He hasn’t grown up with the best view of women — he’s trying to change it.

Yeah. There’s a lot of people who were also like “Albie’s the killer” or “he can’t just be a nice guy” — sorry to disappoint those people. 

When Albie asks his father for 50,000€ for Lucia, he doesn’t really ask — he demands. What was your take on his demeanor in that scene?

We just tried it a bunch of different ways. Some a little more aggressive, some more asking. That was my favorite scene to film. Working with Michael Imperioli, he’s just the easiest actor to work with. Just so present and fun to play with and watch. I would just kind of get caught up watching him work and then I would be like, “Oh right, I’m in this scene.” Same with Murray. I tried to show a different side to him in that scene.

Albie doesn’t seem that hurt or surprised about being played by Lucia. Do you think he knew in the back of his mind that could happen?

I felt like he knew that was a possibility. But I think that him and Lucia did have genuine feelings for each other and, like Albie said, 50,000€ for his father is basically nothing, but it could change this person’s entire life around. So I think, either way: He felt like it was the right thing to do for this person who he had fallen for on some level. 

Do Albie and Lucia ever see each other again?

I don’t think so. I think they’re just ghosts in each other’s lives now. And, like, a fun vacation memory. Something to laugh about with the grandkids one day. 

One of the last scenes in the finale, we see Bert, Dom and Albie all check out the same girl at the airport. How did this trip change Albie — did he become more like his father and grandfather in a negative way?

I think he grew up, he became more of a man. I think he’s like his grandfather and father, and he saw these things in them that he saw in himself, which is why he’s actively trying to change that part of himself. I think after spending so much time around them in that Sicilian heat, I think he’s probably like, why can’t I respectfully look at this beautiful woman? I think he’s more like them in that way. He is looking respectfully. His father and grandfather might not be, but you know. 

This has really been your breakout role. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened since the show has come out? Has anyone slid in your DMs?  

There’s been a lot of pretty crazy DM slides, but I don’t wanna put anyone on blast. It’s been cool to meet a couple people that I’m fans of. I met Nathan Fielder at the GQ Men of the Year party. He’s from Vancouver and I lived there for 12 years, and I’m just obsessed with all of his work. So that was definitely a big highlight for me.

What is he like in person?

A very nice, normal guy. 

Who do you want to see on Season 3?

I would bring Coolidge back and make a prequel to Season 1. And then, I’ll throw Nathan Fielder in there.

What’s next for you? 

I’m just kind of being patient right now. I’m reading scripts and auditioning. I work on music sometimes as a fun side hobby, so I’ll hopefully be putting out a couple of tracks next year.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

For more coverage of “The White Lotus,” read our interviews with Jennifer Coolidge (Tanya)Will Sharpe (Ethan)Haley Lu Richardson (Portia), Meghann Fahy (Daphne). Read a recap of the season finale here, and its series-high ratings here!