Jake Lacy Studied These Classic Movie Jerks to Prepare for ‘The White Lotus’

In The White Lotus, Jake Lacy plays one of the HBO series’ most unlikeable characters. He does an incredible job in the role; in a cast of morally questionable characters, he stands out as a frontrunner for most blatantly unpleasant. Lacy explained that to prepare for the role, he had to study some of film’s most notable jerks. 

Jake Lacy in a white cardigan and black shirt.
Jake Lacy | Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Jake Lacy starred in ‘The White Lotus’ as an impatient newlywed

Lacy plays Shane Patton in The White Lotus. The character is a wealthy Cornell grad on a honeymoon with his new wife, Rachel (Alexandra Daddario). Rather than paying attention to her, however, Shane focuses on vacationing college students, his mother, and, more than anything else, landing the Pineapple Suite. 

After a booking error leaves Shane and Rachel in the smaller — but equally nice — Palm Suite, Shane dedicates his vacation to obtaining the larger room. When he doesn’t see results, he shifts his attention to getting the hotel manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) fired. This quest mounts in intensity until it hits a disastrous point of no return. 

He studied well-known movie characters to prepare for the role

To develop the privileged character, Lacy studied several well-known movie jerks. In a conversation with Glamour, he laid out the characters who inspired the role. 

“Chevy Chase, this WASP buffoon who looks like he should have it all together and really does not, both in Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers, but [Cooper’s character] wants to be a douche. He likes to flex that power openly on people. Then there’s Jeremy Piven in Old School who’s so unnecessarily petty.”

Shane is likely the closest match to Chase and Piven’s characters. While he terrorizes the staff at the White Lotus for the entirety of his stay, his personal life is crumbling. Based on his behavior, Rachel begins to realize that her marriage was an enormous mistake. Lacy noted the difference between Shane and Cooper’s character, though.

Jake Lacy in a teal shirt speaks to Murray Bartlett in a blue suit in 'The White Lotus.'
Jake Lacy and Murray Bartlett in ‘The White Lotus’ | Mario Perez/HBO

“He’s like, ‘Let me reveal to you my inner pain.’ And the pain is, like, he was good at lacrosse. That’s the deep dark hurt that he has, ‘People don’t like me because of how good I have it.’ But somebody who genuinely believes they’re a victim with those circumstances is so much more fun than someone who’s just a d—,” he said.

Though he disregards Rachel, Shane appears to truly believe that they will have a better vacation if they achieve the Pineapple Suite. His actions, while not great, have some kind of internal justification. 

Jake Lacy typically plays nice guys

For Lacy, Shane is a departure from his typical roles. He often plays the “nice guy,” a phenomenon that is the subject of a Vulture article ranking each of his “nice guy” roles. The effectiveness of his performance as Shane, however, demonstrates his complexity as an actor. It’s clear that the characters he chose to study helped build a formidable TV jerk. 

RELATED: ‘The White Lotus’: Where to Watch Jake Lacy Play a Nice Guy