Murray Bartlett Running The White Lotus As Armond Is A Real Treat

Australian actor Murrary Bartlett is a revelation in HBO's new comedy series The White Lotus.
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Murray Bartlett as Armond in The White Lotus
Image Source: The Advocate

Mike White's new HBO series, The White Lotus has received rave reviews from critics and viewers alike. The brightest spot on the show has got to be Australian actor Murray Bartlett's turn as resort manager, Armond. Capturing the humor of the character with deft precision, Bartlett takes over the show and the titular Hawaiian resort. 

Murray Bartlett stars as Armond in Mike White's The White Lotus. He plays the resort manager of the titular Hawaiin resort and has received critical acclaim for his breakout role in the show.

For those familiar with HBO, Bartlett will not be a new face. For those who have seen Looking, the comedy-drama series which centers on three young gay men in New York, you will remember Murray Bartlett. He played Dom for 16 episodes from 2014 to 2015. In 2016, he returned for the film adaptation of the popular series and reprised his role as Dom. 

I was a big fan of Looking, as there was plenty of power around the central roles. Jonathan Groff, of Mindhunters, Frozen, and Hamilton fame, was the show-stealer. However, Bartlett was a bright spot in that show as well, playing the hardworking Dom.

Armond From The White Lotus
Image Source: GQ

The White Lotus and Critical Acclaim

Mike White is a well-known comedy filmmaker renown for his screenplays, which he wrote for School of Rock and Nacho Libre. Both were very popular. He has now dipped his toes into the comedy-drama genre and released his new series via HBO. Centered around a lavish resort in Hawaii, The White Lotus talks about issues such as addiction, race, sexuality, and classism.

The character who struggles the most and undergoes the greatest change throughout the first season of The White Lotus is Armond. He has been sober for many years, but his job catering to the rich folks at this resort leaves him stressed and upset. He battles against the temptation to return to substance abuse while also taking on various trouble-making guests at the hotel. 

After viewing the show, Indiewire.com declared that "Under Bartlett’s inspired performance, Armond slowly devolves from a duck paddling vigorously to maintain an utterly placid surface into a vengeful bully as obstinate and narcissistic as the ones he’s been wrangling." 

Indeed, Bartlett's hilarious encounters with the hotel's guests, especially Jake Lacy's Shane Patton. This particular guest is a wealthy real estate agent who is unbelievably entitled and clashes with Armond in his quest to get the room he was initially promised, the "Pineapple Suite". Watch Bartlett discuss his role as Armond below.

Murray Bartlett, an LGBTQ Icon

Bartlett has long been a fixture in shows with LGBTQ characters. His role as Dom in Looking cemented him as a major representative of the on-screen community. He has never been shy about his own sexuality and explained his choice not to lie about himself in an interview with GQ.

“As a younger actor I thought about being out or not,” Bartlett concedes, “but I just never felt like lying about myself was an option.” Bartlett cites his upbringing as the main reason why he felt comfortable being honest about himself.

Murray Bartlett as Armond
Image Source: Vanity Fair

Although he was understandably nervous to put himself out there, especially in an era where homophobia is still very much alive, he described his feelings in the same interview. "I was fortunate to have an amazing mother who had gay friends and was incredibly supportive of who I was going to be. Unlike so many other [LGBTs], the people closest to me never told me I was bad or called me an abomination. I always had unconditional love and incredible support."

Indeed, Murray Bartlett first got some practice with these roles in the very popular HBO series Sex and the City. His role as Australian shoe importer Oliver Spencer made him a well-known actor in the historic city. 

"SATC was my first acting job in the States, so it was amazing and fantastic, but also totally surreal.", Bartlett said. "Especially in New York, I was always made aware of the fact that I had been on the show; it was sort of this fantasy come true. But it was also an odd time because we shot the episode just before 9/11 and then the world just sort of fell apart."

Of course, Armond is a gay character as well, and his way of coping with the difficult guests is to seduce some of the younger waiters at the resort. This devolves into a massive party in the manager's office, which makes for one of the funniest scenes in the show.

Armond White Lotus
Image Source: Tumgir

Armond and Addiction

Armond's arc in the show is one that is particularly entertaining, but also extremely realistic and relatable, especially for those who suffer from substance abuse. The season is full of crazy debauchery, and many of these moments are instigated by the guests themselves. 

However, Armond's personal struggle and descent into relapse is a direct result of his interaction with these crazy guests. It is funny to see how Armond chooses to respond to these people, but falling off the wagon shows just how much stress he is under. 

Indeed, Bartlett's character shows us that the service industry can often be thankless. He is not paid well, and all he does is try to make the resort's wealthy patrons feel welcome. He tends to their every need and answers constant questions, even when he knows they are stupid.

This revelation, the fact that he is extremely unhappy with his career, is what gives Bartlett the backstory he needs to portray an addict with efficiency.  Armond is actually a very multifaceted character and this is one of the main reasons Bartlett was so excited to play him.

“One of the things that appealed so much to me about Armond is that it’s not really about how he looks; he has this rich inner life,” Bartlett said. “And at my age, these are the kinds of roles I want to be playing—fully-fledged, three-dimensional characters that people can relate to.”

Armond in The White Lotus
Image Source: Music 2021

What's Next For The White Lotus?

Creator Mike White has had a real career revival with the success of HBO's The White Lotus. Murray Bartlett's turn as Armond is a big reason why, but what is next for the relevant comedy-drama series?

After the amazing success of the show, HBO has decided to go all-in on another season of the show. Their press release reads: “The next chapter of The White Lotus leaves Hawaii behind and follows a different group of vacationers as they jet to another White Lotus property and settle in temporarily amongst its inhabitants.”

Unfortunately, this will likely be an anthology series and will not feature Murray Bartlett. With that being said, Bartlett was an absolutely inspiring actor this season and will be remembered for his epic portrayal of Armond in The White Lotus.

Joseph Poulos is a freelance writer from Michigan.

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