Who is Leo Woodall? Interview with Jack from The White Lotus 2


Leo Woodall plays the controversial Jack in The White Lotus 2.

“Would you rather live in the Middle Ages? When did people go to war?” asks Jack (Leo Woodall) to Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) in the sixth episode of the second season of The White Lotusthe HBO series (available on Sky and Now TV in Italy) which has just won the 2023 SAG Awards for best cast in a drama series. «In short, we are lucky. We live in the best historical moment there is, on the best planet. If you are not satisfied with living here now, you will never be satisfied.’

«All bullshit» comments with a bitter smile Woodall, the 26-year-old English actor who plays one of the most controversial characters in the dark comedy also awarded at the last Golden Globe for best miniseries. “Sounds like caveman reasoning to me, from an incredibly closed-minded guy. Just look at what’s going on around us to find a lot of things to be concerned about. From the war in Ukraine to the shootings in the United States: we read bad news every day. There is a lot of evil in the world.’

While I envy Jack’s light-hearted optimism (not forgetting that The White Lotus represents a fierce critique of contemporary society, against which the creator Mike White points the finger, bringing out its superficiality, laziness, excesses) and appreciating her witty lines (“it’s so funny you don’t have to invent anything from what’s already in the script”), Woodall admits he shares practically nothing with his character. And to say that on paper (and from the photos he shares on social media) he would seem to be a full part of that generation of young people who, as he himself admits, are “living the best possible life”. Actors who passed suddenly, without too much effort and almost no apprenticeship, from perfect strangers to international prominence.

Leo Woodall photographed by Zeb Daemen, styled by Fabio Immediato (jacket and shirt, Gucci).

Thus, if Sicily has enjoyed the last two months of what the New York Times he defined the “White Lotus effect”seeing requests for overnight stays double and searches on Google soar at the end of 2022, the series had the effect of making Woodall’s number of followers on Instagram skyrocket to 128,000 «and for the first time people started to recognize me and to stop on the street».

Certainly one would say that for him to stand out among the myriad of young people engulfed every month by the gigantic production machines that have become streaming platforms, media grinders always looking for new faces to raise to the stars or, in the event of a flop, quickly forget could have been simpler.

Leo Woodall’s career

After all, it still is son and grandson of art: his parents met in a theater school and his great-great-grandmother Maxine Elliott was the first woman, in the early twentieth century, to open an off-Broadway theater in New York. And instead with the typical British understatement, Woodall admits that “the first day I arrive on the set, even before filming begins, I’m always nervous”, and candidly recounts that he has never been an enfant prodige, on the contrary it seems that as a kid he dreamed of being a teacher or a stuntman.

To make him change his mind, at 19, an episode of Peaky Blinders. And from there it seems that his future was already written: «In December 2021 I had just finished watching the first season of The White Lotus in one breath and I was thinking “It would be great to work on a project like this” when I opened the email and found that I had already received an invitation to audition for the second season». That from Maui, in Hawaii, she would have moved to Italy, another sign of destiny: «Since I was little I have spent practically every summer with my family in Umbria in a remote village in the Apennines, where the house still stands where my grandmother was born.’

And although he had never been to Taormina and Sicily in general, he says he has settled in so well that he even indulges some improvisation from the script (“but always asking the director’s permission first”) in the wake of the emotion of the moment, such as when “we were shooting a scene in which Jack was walking down the street drunk and so out of nowhere it occurred to me to start singing, it must have been midnight or one o’clock, and the people in the houses instead of getting angry started singing back.’

Leo Woodall wears suit, shirt and tie, Dolce & Gabbana Re-Edition.

Upcoming projects: One Day and Citadel

Whether he actually deserved the mention in the list of ten «Brits to Watch» (British actors to watch) magazine variety it will be the time and the curriculum

to tell. Even if we bet hordes of young fans are just waiting to fall in love with him like they did with Jim Sturgess in the romantic One Day: Woodall will in fact inherit the part of Dexter in the rserial production made by Netflix (Sturgess starred with Anne Hathaway in the film version) based on the book by David Nicholls.

And who knows if the romantic story of the two guys who meet just one day every year, isn’t also the occasion for some gossip between him and Ambika Mod (another emerging from the world of series, in his case This is going to hurt of the BBC) which could definitively consecrate him to a teen idol. However, he puts his hands forward: «I didn’t want to imitate anyone. I tried not to be influenced by anything other than the original text or the script. And putting myself in Dex’s shoes was easy for me from the very first reading.” As a model, he rather took the romantic comedies that he watched as a boy with his mother and sister, amid his brother’s giggles: «I’m not afraid to say that they really amused me. And now I know that I also like them as a protagonist ».

What kind of actor he wants to become, however, he has not yet clear in mind, the leap from independent films such as Nomad and from marginal roles like the one in the teen series Vampire Academy and in the thriller Cherry to global success. Perhaps it will be better understood by seeing it in Citadelanother ambitious project that risks becoming the second most expensive ever produced by Amazon Prime Video. A sort of international franchise made up of four connected series on the set of which Woodall met one of his myths: Stanley Tucci. Waiting to earn a place on stage with him…

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