We’ve all been there: a hotel or restaurant has messed up your booking. “Our deepest apologies,” mouths the manager with a thin smile. They’re sorry, or are they? It’s not their fault, or is it? Do you seethe, or slink away? It’s a social etiquette minefield. It’s not a big deal… but maybe it is a medium-sized deal?
Taking this concept: a person's capacity to lose their mind when confronted with mild humiliation, and running with it to dark and delicious effect, HBO’s new flagship mini series, The White Lotus, sees a group of pampered tourists descend on a dream resort in Hawaii for what is supposed to be the holiday of a lifetime. At the centre of the mayhem that lingers just below the starched bedsheets, seafood buffets and sandy beaches is Shane Patton, played to loathsome perfection by Jake Lacy, an obnoxious newlywed who wages war with the hotel’s supercilious manager over a room booking gone wrong. A perceived slight that quickly spirals out of control.
In previous roles, as Lena Dunham’s exasperated boyfriend Fran in Girls; bored cubicle drone Pete in The Office; and Clyde, the patient and responsible foil to Zoë Kravitz’s chaotic Rob in the High Fidelity TV reboot, Lacy has often operated as the beleaguered Nice Guy, his frustrations only occasionally breaking the surface of a near perma-smiling face. New York magazine even did a power ranking of all of the nice guys played by Lacy over the years. So what did it feel like to embody - so says Vanity Fair anyway - an “asshole” for once?
“That’s tough,” says Lacy of his new-found antagonist status. “All the pieces add up to a person who certainly appears to be an asshole, but I’m playing this guy. I have to be on his side. So, as much of an asshole as he may be, I often find myself coming to his defense. They gave him the wrong room! They fucked up! Just give him what he paid for!” Luckily, holidays from hell have been the sole preserve of his on-screen characters. "I have been very fortunate in my travels! Although I was put up in a hotel in London once where the lobby doubled as a nightclub after 9pm…"
"It was an absolute blessing to have the work considering the majority of productions had shut down starting in April," says Lacy of shooting in Maui in the midst of the pandemic. "There were strict protocols for testing and social distancing to maintain our bubble, but the actual filming was fantastic, the whole cast is a good hang. Lots of good people on that one."
Now back in the US, Lacy recently left Brooklyn after more than a decade in the borough. “When I got to Williamsburg there were still a lot of mom and pop shops. A lot of little places doing their own thing. No Whole Foods. No Apple store. No high rises. Don’t get me wrong, I shop at Whole Foods and I’ve written to you on an iPad. I’m not guiltless in this, but I do miss the way it was 10 years ago. A little simpler. A little wilder."
An ideal Jake Lacy day in New York circa 2021 consists of a walk with a friend. Maybe a coffee, maybe some pizza. Hellboy at Paulie Gee’s for a slice, or Lucali in Brooklyn for a whole pie. Then a museum and a late movie at the Metrograph. "Finally, a great dinner at some place I’ve never been.”
When it comes to style that catches his eye in the city, "I think it really comes down to whether the clothes are an extension of the person or a costume. Clothes can be an expression of how we see ourselves and what we see as our place in the world, but I don’t think that has to be static. I think that perspective can change from day-to-day or week-to-week. Of course there is proportion and colour and that sort of thing. But really, I get excited seeing someone embrace who they are through and through, whether that’s a linen suit or a cut-off tee.”
“I get pulled in one direction for a week or a month and then pulled back another way,” he adds of his own taste for clothes. “I so badly want to have a defined style, but it never seems to go that way. As I’m getting older I’m figuring out how to edit myself and understand the difference between something I like and something that actually works for me.”
Most importantly of all, how about the perfect sweatshirt?
“I want the length to hit right above my belt," he says, "and I want some room to move through the back and shoulders. I guess I’m looking for something similar to vintage proportions: a little shorter, a little boxier. One hundred percent cotton. Gets better with age.”
Words to dress by. Words to live by.