HBO Ousts Pro-Kremlin Actor Milos Bikovic from 'The White Lotus'

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.03 - 2024 5:53 PM CET

Photo: Olga Sushkova / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Olga Sushkova / Shutterstock.com
HBO Ousts Pro-Kremlin Actor Milos Bikovic from 'The White Lotus.

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In response to Ukraine's criticism, HBO has decided to cut ties with Serbian-Russian actor Milos Bikovic, removing him from the cast of the upcoming season of "The White Lotus," as confirmed by Deadline on February 2.

Bikovic, who has spent over a decade working in Russia and was awarded Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin, has publicly supported Russia's actions in Crimea and has not spoken out against the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Initially announced on January 12, Bikovic was set to portray Valentin, a charming yoga instructor, in the series' third season set in Thailand. However, this casting decision was questioned after Ukraine's Foreign Ministry highlighted Bikovic's pro-Kremlin stance on January 24, sharing videos of the actor's supportive comments towards Russia and his receipt of an award from Putin for his contributions to Russian culture.

Questioning HBO's decision, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry asked on X (formerly Twitter) whether collaboration with someone who endorses genocide and violates international law was acceptable.

Bikovic, who has visited Russian-occupied Crimea for work and is on Kyiv's no-entry list, confirmed on February 3 his exit from "The White Lotus." He described the situation as "a targeted campaign" that threatens artistic freedom. Bikovic expressed his respect for the series and his regret over his departure due to non-artistic reasons, stating he would not succumb to narratives compromising his integrity.

As HBO plans to begin production in Thailand, the network is now tasked with finding a replacement for Bikovic's role.

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