'The White Lotus' Season 2: Theo James on Why His Nude Scene Was Toned Down in the Premiere (Exclusive)

The actor opens up to ET about stripping down for the HBO series.

The Emmy-winning HBO social satire, The White Lotus, is back with season 2 and among the new cast members joining the Sicily-based installment is Theo James. The actor, who has garnered attention for his very naked performances in the HBO adaptation of The Time Traveler's Wife and Sanditon on PBS, once again strips down as creator Mike White delivers what James' co-stars dub as a "sexy" new season complete with "a lot of sexuality." 

"It is in my contract that I'm not allowed to do anything without being completely naked," James jokes with ET's Denny Directo about his onscreen history of being clothing-free, explaining that getting naked in front of the camera "felt natural."

In season 2, which is set at another luxury White Lotus resort on the Mediterranean island, James plays Cameron Babcock, a well-endowed, wealthy and successful businessman on vacation with his wife, Daphne (Meghann Fahy), and two distant friends who are also married, Ethan and Harper Spiller (Will Sharpe and Aubrey Plaza). And it's not long before James' character strips down, revealing everything in a surprising moment that will leave viewers wondering, "Wait, did that just really happen?"

During the premiere, after Harper offers Cameron one of Ethan's swim trunks to wear to the pool, he follows her to her room, where he changes in the main bedroom as she watches from the bathroom mirror. Even in the moment, Harper is unsure what to do, and tries to look away. 

James goes on to explain that "it's interesting, [because] at first… we don't know whether it's deliberate or [if] it's accidental. But it reveals itself." The actor then teases that much later, in episode 5, audiences will realize "there's a purpose to it." In fact, "it's never arbitrary," his co-star, Fahy, says of those scenes. "It's always character-driven. It's always, you know, moving the [story] forward." 

While viewers will have some time to debate Cameron's intentions, James says what ended up onscreen in the final cut of the premiere is very different from what they shot originally. "The initial version we shot was way too much. So, we did a more subtle version," he reveals. "They toned it [down]." 

Although what didn't make it into the episode sounds intriguing, there's no way it can top the rimming scene in season 1, which also featured some unexpected nudity throughout. But season 2 does have its fair share of naked bodies, with many of the male stars stripping down in some fashion. 

"It's funny 'cause we're all kind of naked," James says, explaining, "It's a holiday show, really."


Cameron and his companions aren't the only ones visiting the White Lotus, with F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli, Adam DiMarco, Tom Hollander, Haley Lu Richardson and Jennifer Coolidge, who is reprising her Emmy-winning role from season 1, all sharing the screen as the various guests at the same resort. 

"We lucked out," James says of joining The White Lotus family, adding that it all feels "surreal."

And like season 1, there was no shortage of memories made while being on location. "It was all pretty great," James says, revealing that during "the first half [of filming] we were all in the same hotel together, which was very useful because we got to know each other very quickly."

The White Lotus season 2 premieres Sunday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.