HBO has split with actor Miloš Biković, who will not be appearing in the soon-to-be-released third season of The White Lotus, which is set in an inn in Thailand. Character specifics are not disclosed in the television series, although Biković is thought to have been assigned to the small frequent part of Russian Valentin, the hotel’s Life Enrichment Consultant and flirting yogi. Now that production is set to begin in and around Koh Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok, the role will be replaced.
Biković said, “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.” The choice was made over a week after HBO was criticised by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for selecting Biković.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine questioned, “Is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?” in a video upload that featured public remarks by Biković and tagged the U.S. broadcaster. Highlights from White Lotus and audio clips from Biković conversations appear to support Russia’s seizure of Crimea, which served as a pretext for the Russian occupation of Ukraine in 2022. Due to the actor’s repeated trips to the peninsula—including business trips—Ukraine placed him on a no-entry list for 2019. That might have swiftly brought Biković’s name to the attention of the Ukrainian government after it was revealed on January 12 that he had been featured in The White Lotus.
The previous week’s occurrences, according to Biković, “a targeted campaign [that] 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,” he said in his response. “The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art,” he added. The Serbian actor has been employed in Russia for more than ten years, growing to become one of the most well-known performers there and collaborating with renowned filmmakers like Oscar winner Nikita Mikhalkov, who faced sanctions from the EU for endorsing the Russian takeover in 2022. Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, conferred Bikovic Russian citizenship in 2021 and also gave him a medal in 2018.
Biković has never been known to have publicly backed the military occupation of Ukraine by the Kremlin. However, he refrained from denouncing it in 2022, and he hasn’t done so since the disastrous footage that was released last week. His quiet probably had a part in his departure from The White Lotus, as it left HBO attempting to negotiate artistic and geopolitical minefields. Biković found himself in an even more precarious situation after the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs jumped to his rescue last week. At considerable personal risk, criticising Russia’s activities in Ukraine might have preserved his chance at a Hollywood vocation.