HBO’s The White Lotus has one of the most enviable TV ensembles out there right now; if the onscreen chemistry weren’t enough, the dreamy behind-the-scenes photo of the cast’s adventures filming in Sicily confirms it. But in a large cast of intersecting characters, not everyone gets to perform together, and the would’ve-could’ve-should’ves start to pile up.
For Michael Imperioli, who plays sex-addicted father Dominic di Grasso, the “would’ve” is an easy question: Imperioli says that he “would’ve loved to have done a scene” with Jennifer Coolidge. Although the pair share a brief moment together during an ensemble dinner scene, Dominic and Tanya never quite go toe to toe. But unlike his character, who meets Tanya for the first time at the resort, Imperioli was a fan of Coolidge’s season 1 portrayal of the childlike and glamorous icon. Long story short, Imperioli is more than familiar with—and fond of—that unforgettable “wee-hee! ”
“Watching the first season, I just really fell for that character,” Imperioli tells The A.V. Club’s Saloni Gajjar of Tanya in a new interview. “I thought it was such a full-blown portrayal of this, you know—it’s just so real and big. Big meaning like just, it’s just so juicy and fun.”
Another scene-stealer Imperioli wishes he could have had more face-time with? Laura Dern, who (via a disembodied voice over the phone) plays Dominic’s more-than-disgruntled ex-wife. Imperioli says he didn’t know it would be Dern on the other end of the line until “much later” in the production process—during filming, his friend and assistant to the producer Ilia Bronktine stepped in to do the chastising. (Per Imperioli: “she let me have it from the other side.”)
“I’ve never met Laura Dern, but I think she’s phenomenal and I loved what she did in that,” Imperioli says. Perhaps he should get in touch with Stephen Spielberg on that front: we hear Spielberg owes Dern a favorable introduction.