The White Lotus drops Miloš Biković after Ukraine backlash

The White Lotus has parted ways with Serbian actor Miloš Biković after Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused him of supporting the Russian invasion.

“We have decided to part ways with Miloš Biković and the role will be recast,” a HBO spokesperson told The Independent on Friday (2 February). Details of his role in the series were not disclosed.

In a statement of his own, Biković said he was the victim of a “targeted campaign”. You can read his statement in full below.

On 24 January, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared a montage of clips appearing to show Biković receiving an award from Putin. In 2018, the actor received the Pushkin Medal for his contributions to Russian culture and in 2021 received Russian citizenship by presidential decree.

The actor and producer revealed in 2019 that he had been banned from Ukraine for national security reasons.

“Miloš Biković, Serbian actor who has been supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion, is now set to star in HBO’s The White Lotus Season 3,” the ministry tweeted.

“@HBO, is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?”

Biković has acted in several Russian productions, including the 2017 TV drama Krylya Imperii.

Season three of Mike White’s hit drama about wealthy hotel guests will be set in Thailand, with production scheduled to begin this month in and around Koh Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok.

“We are honoured to have Amazing Thailand featured as the filming location for the highly anticipated upcoming season of The White Lotus,” Thapanee Kiatphaibool, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said in a statement.

White has previously teased a “supersized” season three. “It’s going to be longer, bigger, crazier. I don’t know what people will think, but I am super excited, so at least for my own barometer, that’s a good thing... I’m super excited about the content of the season,” he told Entertainment Weekly in November.

Here is Biković’s full statement:

“I grew up in a war-torn country. At the age of 11 I endured days and nights in shelters while my homeland and my hometown were bombed. And could never wish such devastation on anyone.

“There are more and more active conflicts in the entire world. Each one is different. Each one is heartbreaking. I wish all of them to stop and principles of love to prevail.

“Today, a targeted campaign has been unleashed against me, seemingly as an external maneuver to influence decisions that can create a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom. The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.

“I was honored to be chosen to be a part of White Lotus, a TV series that I hold in high regard and with colleagues whom I deeply respect. However, my participation is not possible due to reasons beyond the realm of art and I will not bow to any narrative that seeks to compromise my integrity.

“I would like to thank everyone who stood by me. I wish my colleagues great success in creating the next season. Regardless of everything, I strongly believe that art can heal. I believe it can help humanity unite. My beliefs and my dedication to art will remain unchanged.”