HBO has dropped Serbian-Russian actor Miloš Biković from “The White Lotus” Season 3 after his alleged ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin went viral on social media.
“We have decided to part ways with Miloš Biković and the role will be recast,” an HBO spokesperson told IndieWire.
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Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called out HBO’s casting of Biković last week, alleging the actor supports Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ social media account wrote on X January 24 that Biković “supports genocide & violates international law.”
“HBO, is it all right for you to work?” the post said, tagging HBO. The ministry included 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 video appears to show Biković supporting Russia’s occupation of Crimea, a driving factor in the invasion of Ukraine.
Biković’s casting in Season 3 of creator Mike White’s Emmy-winning HBO series, which will be set in Thailand, was announced January 12. According to Deadline, Ukraine put Biković on a no-entry list in 2019, which could explain why his casting earned the country’s notices.
Biković did speak out about the war in an Instagram post dated February 25, 2022. “I wish there were no wars… Naive, I know. I was 3 years old when war broke out in my country. I was 5 when the other one got loose. I was 11 when we got bombed. I know how terrible war is,” he wrote as shared by USA Today. “We’ve been through a similar situation, but they can’t be compared. Every conflict has its own circumstances.”
The Serbian national, 36, had not spoken out since controversy erupted over his casting, however. But now Deadline shares a statement from the actor: “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.”
Production is soon set to start on “The White Lotus” Season 3 in Koh Samui, Phuket, and Bangkok. The new installment, which won’t premiere until 2025, stars Parker Posey, Leslie Bibb, Jason Isaacs, and Michelle Monaghan, with Natasha Rothwell reprising her role from the first season. Bikovic’s role was never disclosed, though he was reported to star as a yogi at the titular hotel.
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