'Salad-Tossing' on 'The White Lotus' Explained by Actors Murray Bartlett & Lucas Gage

Sunday August 15, 2021
Originally published on August 5, 2021

One TV show that is trending this week is "The White Lotus," out writer Mike White's acerbic, HBO satire of entitled Americans vacationing at the titular luxe Hawaiian resort. Driving the attention is is a sexy scene between Armond, the resort manager played by Murray Bartlett, and one of his employees, the surfer boy-type Dillon (Lucas Gage) when they are interrupted in flagrante delicto with Bartlett's head deep within Gage's butt cheeks.

The moment is one of the few times rimming has been shown on television.

"In the context of this scene, we wanted to be shocking, and, you know, it is shocking," Bartlett told Digital Spy.

"But I also love that it's not something that we see very often. In terms of the function of the scene, I think the shock value of that for people who are not used to that kind of... configuration of intimacy [laughs], is really brilliant."

He continued: "It felt right in terms of the shock value. And it felt great in terms of: 'Let's show something that is a natural part of sex for a lot of queer people.' "

"I can't wait for my ass to get retweeted all over the Internet," Gage told the AV Club prior to show being aired. He also expressed the same thought on Instagram, saying in a post, "watch my ass on @thewhitelotus tonight."

White, who wrote and directed the mini-series (which continues on HBO through August 15), came up with the idea of Bartlett and Gage having sex, but the actors determined the specifics when they filmed the scene.

"Me and Murray actually came up with idea of the ass eating because we've seen sex so many times, but how many times have we seen someone getting their salad tossed?" Gage told Bustle.

"The scene was filmed with an intimacy coordinator on set," wrote Men's Health, "and Gage had nothing but positive things to say about the experience and Bartlett as a scene partner, calling him 'one of the most talented, sweetest, kindest humans and actors in the world.' "

While the out Bartlett is known to audience for his role on HBO's "Looking," Gage has yet to have his breakout role.

He recalled to V Magazine how he first appeared before the camera as a teenager in a wart removal commercial. But during his high school years, he put acting on the back burner. "Gage spent adolescence at arm's length from the acting bug, until a life-changing trauma," V Magazine wrote.

"I was at a party, and my friend got beat up for being gay. I jumped in to protect him, and I got beat up, [too]. I broke my orbitals, my nose, my jaw... Eight of my teeth got knocked out. I [had to get] my face put back together," Gage recalls. "I had this moment in the hospital where I thought, If I die, will I have done everything I wanted to do? I wasn't happy in school and I always wanted to go back to acting, so I was, like, 'Fuck it. I am going to do it.' "

Once he started pursuing acting, he began getting roles on such shows as "Supergirl," "Veronica Mars," "Euphoria," and "Love, Victor," where he played the boyfriend of the title character's crush.

Gage is also a writer who recently sold a screenplay that is scheduled to be filmed this summer.

"It's a crazy, out-there dark comedy about a deeply repressed gay man who invites an uninhibited young man to give him a happy ending," he told Bustle. "Then they have a crazy, wild night, and it all takes place mostly in one night."

"As for whether or not anyone's salad will get tossed this time around," Bustle teased, " — you'll just have to wait and see."

Gage attracted media attention earlier this year when he was slammed by a television director slammed him in a Zoom audition for having a "tiny apartment." The casting director had forgot to hit the mute button and was heard saying "These poor people live in these tiny apartments. Like, I'm looking at his background and he's got his TV and —." At that point Gage told him he wasn't muted. "I know it's a shitty apartment. That's why, give me this job so I can get a better one," he quickly responded. Gage wasn't actually in his apartment, but in a hotel room while on a shoot.

Gage posted the video and it went viral, but he didn't name the director. Instead 20-year-veteran Tristram Shapeero called out himself in an apology published on Deadline. In expressing how "mortified" he was by the video, he explained how he sympathized with Gage's plight and wasn't being critical of it.

"I was using the word 'poor' in the sense of deserving sympathy, as opposed to any economic judgment," he said. "My words were being spoken from a genuine place of appreciation for what the actors were having to endure, stuck in confined spaces, finding it within themselves to give a role-winning performance under these conditions."

Gage didn't get the role, but did get the part of Dillon, which was even better since it got him to shoot in Hawaii.

"I wanted any reason to get out of LA, and get out of my apartment, and to get to do that with these comedic geniuses that I've looked up to for so long, in such a stunning place; it was the biggest blessing in the world," he told AV Club.

As for his personal life, the website TVOM (TV Over Mind) writes, "He's got a lot going on, and he shares some travel shots, but he's not sharing too much of his personal life. He doesn't share much about his love life, his personal life, or what he's up to otherwise."