‘The White Lotus’ Star Jon Gries Quit Acting Before Landing His Most Famous Role to Date

Jon Gries returns as Greg Hunt in HBO‘s The White Lotus Season 2. The actor has been in dozens of popular projects over the years. But recalling his career trajectory, Gries revealed that he actually quit acting before landing his most famous role. 

Jon Gries started acting at a young age

jon gries white lotus
Actor Jon Gries attends the Los Angeles Season 2 Premiere of the HBO Original Series “The White Lotus” at Goya Studios on October 20, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Jon Gries is the son of Tom Gries, the screenwriter/filmmaker known for projects like The Man from UNCLE (1965) and Batman (1966). He made his acting debut at age 11, opposite Charleston Heston in his father’s 1968 film, Will Penny

Jon went on to appear in dozens of popular projects. He was featured on episodes of The Jeffersons, Quantum Leap, Beverly Hills 90210, ER, The X-Files, Seinfeld, 24, and Sons of Anarchy. And he had recurring roles in Martin, The Pretender, Carnivale, and Lost

The 65-year-old’s movie credits include Napoleon Dynamite and the Taken series. He was most recently seen in Dream Corp LLC and The White Lotus

Jon Gries quit acting before landing his ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ role

Napoleon Dynamite is a 2004 comedy that stars Jon Heder as Napoleon, a nerdy high school student, and Gries as his Uncle Rico. The film was a massive commercial success, grossing over $44 million on a budget of $400,000. And it has since become a cult classic. 

Uncle Rico is one of Gries’ most famous roles to date. But as the actor revealed in an interview with the Legends and Masters podcast, he actually quit acting to focus on the filmmaking side of things just before getting the movie. 

Gries recalled how he was blown away by the hilarious script. And he noted that he took the movie on despite its low budget. 

“Nobody, I think, even read it because it was such a really independent movie, very hard to get people to read scripts,” Gries recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I’m going to read it because I like the underdog.’ I like people that are struggling to get by.” The actor note he “made most of my bread and butter in independent films.” 

“I read it, and by page 16 or 15, I was laughing out loud,” he continued. “And that was it.”

Jon Gries says he gets projects like ‘The White Lotus’ because of ‘dumb luck’ 

In The White Lotus, Gries has a recurring role as Greg Hunt, the love interest of Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuoid. When talking about his longevity and how he landed the role, the talented actor humbly suggested it was due to luck. 


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“My brand of stubbornness is what’s kept me around,” Gries told Newsweek. “It’s like, OK, bad year, maybe next year will be a good year. White Lotus came along. I auditioned for that show.” at the time Gries notes he “was suffering from the ‘OG’ COVID” when he went read for the part.

“I had a friend come over and read from about 40 feet away, and I got the job,” he recalled. “What a phenomenon that turned out to be! What an incredible stroke of dumb luck.”