How ‘The White Lotus’ Editor John Valerio Crafted Key Scenes for Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya
May 11, 2023

Written by Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

Following months of guessing who met their demise when a body is discovered in the opening scene of The White Lotus’ second season, all was revealed in a climatic confrontation on a yacht in the final episode, titled “Arrivederci.” 

Editor John M. Valerio talks about cutting that pivotal scene — as well as crafting the performances of fan favorite Jennifer Coolidge, who plays the zany and wealthy Tanya; and Tom Hollander, whose vacationer Quentin is revealed to be a villain — in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Behind the Screen.

Describing Coolidge as brilliant, Valerio says one challenge was figuring out what to keep in the episode and what to cut. “She would just come up with her hilarious ad-lib lines, and between her ad-lib lines and [creator Mike White] throwing out ad-lib lines, I would say — I mean this in the best possible way, it’s a compliment — her scenes were the most difficult to cut because of how great she was, because there was so much great stuff.”

Valerio — who won an Emmy a year ago for the final episode of season one, and earlier this year collected an American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Award for the finale of season two — says Hollander also provided a range of excellent performances with which to reveal Quentin’s nefarious intentions. “There was more of a villainous take, more of a friendly take. We sort of struck a balance of, at what point do we wanna get a sense that there’s something wrong with this guy.

“There was a lot more conversation on the yacht between Tanya and Quentin,” he adds of the dailies. “It didn’t need it, and Mike [White], he’s not precious at all about anything. He’s the first one to just be like, ‘Lose that.’”

For the scene on the yacht, the decision was made to tell the story from Tanya’s point of view as she realizes that she’s in danger.

“We see her running in the bedroom, she’s in the bedroom, closes the door. … We do not see anything other than what she sees,” Valerio explains, noting that they never used coverage of Quentin and the other men banging on the door trying to enter. “I think it was very strong to keep it on her point of view and as almost one take. And then when she comes out and she just starts blasting [the gun she found]. You just hear the gunshots, hear the bodies falling, and you’re just totally with her.”

Valerio’s credits also include The Old Man and Parks and Recreation. The full episode of Behind the Screen follows.

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