HBO has parted ways with actor Miloš Biković who will no longer be part of The White Lotus‘ upcoming third season set at a Thailand hotel.
The change comes after Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized Biković’s casting over the Serbian-born actor’s seeming support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in a January 24 social media post, the ministry wrote, “HBO, is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?” over a video clip of statements Biković has made about Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Biković has worked in Russia for the past decade; he received an award from Vladimir Putin in 2018 and became a Russian citizen in 2021.
“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,” Biković said in a statement. “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.”
Biković called the events of the last week “a targeted campaign [that] has been unleashed against me, seemingly as an external manoeuvre to influence decisions that can create a disturbing precedent shadowing the essence of artistic freedom.”
The White Lotus is about the dynamics between the guests and employees of a fictional resort chain, called The White Lotus. The first season premiered on HBO in 2021 and was set in Hawaii, while the second season was shot in Sicily and released in 2022.
Natasha Rothwell, who featured as spa manager Belinda Lindsey in the first season, will reprise the character in the third season as well.
Apart from Natasha, the series will feature Leslie Bibb, Dom Hetrakul, Jason Isaacs, Parker Posey, Michelle Monaghan, Tayme Thapthimthong, Carrie Coon, Christian Friedel, Morgana O’Reilly, Lek Patravadi, Shalini Peiris, Walton Goggins, Sarah Catherine Hook, Sam Nivola, Patrick Schwarzenegger and Aimee Lou Wood.
The dark comedy series comes from creator Mike White.
(This story originally appeared on Cinema Express)