‘The White Lotus’ drops Miloš Biković amid Ukraine-Russia controversy

The third season of HBO’s The White Lotus will no longer feature Miloš Biković, the Serbian-born actor who was recently accused by Ukraine’s foreign ministry of supporting Russia’s invasion of the former Soviet republic.

“We have decided to part ways with Miloš Biković and the role will be recast,” an HBO spokesperson said Friday in a statement provided to EW.

Season 3 of the hit dramedy is slated to begin filming in Thailand this month. Details of the season are being kept under wraps, but according to Deadline, Biković was expected to play the “small recurring role of Russian Valentin, a flirtatious yogi and the hotel’s Life Enhancement Mentor.”

Miloš Biković.

Tristan Fewings/Getty

The news of Biković’s departure comes nine days after Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs slammed HBO for casting the actor on social media, calling him “the Kremlin’s foreign mouthpiece” and “a person who supports genocide & violates international law.” The post tagged HBO and featured video of Biković being awarded a medal for cultural achievement by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biković was granted Russian citizenship in 2021 and said in a 2019 interview that he has been banned from entering Ukraine.

In an Instagram statement addressing his White Lotus departure, Biković claimed Friday that a “targeted campaign 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 added, “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. I would like to thank everyone who stood by me. I wish my colleagues great success in creating the next season.”

The White Lotus season 3 is set to feature Leslie Bibb, Dom Hetrakul, Jason IsaacsMichelle Monaghan, Carrie Coon, Walton Goggins, Parker Posey, and Natasha Rothwell (reprising her role as Belinda from season 1).

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