After years in US soaps, he landed the part of Armond in The White Lotus – a ‘dreamy’ role that involved defecating in a suitcase. He discusses making it in middle age, coming out to his parents and losing his front teeth
It was in the middle of the pandemic that Murray Bartlett began wondering if he would ever work as an actor again. “I thought: ‘What do I do? Do I teach drama?’” He and his partner had left New York for Provincetown, Massachusetts, not long before, unsure of whether the move would jeopardise his potential roles. The virus added another note of uncertainty.
In the grip of this career crisis came the call that led to the most compelling role he has had. If any television scene can sum up the mood of our times, it is Bartlett, as the harried luxury hotel manager Armond, pooing in the suitcase of an obscenely privileged, obnoxious guest. Armond begins the six‑part series, The White Lotus, determined to do his job well, to please all the necessary people. But, as catastrophe spreads, his eyes glitter, his mood changes and it is clear propriety is about to be set aside. His descent from assured, capable, sober hotelier to rogue manager, high on drugs stolen from two teenage guests, set on sabotaging a deeply unpleasant honeymooner, is spectacular – and probably the TV moment of the year.