Serbian actor Miloš Biković has been ousted from the cast of HBO’s critically acclaimed series, The White Lotus, just weeks after his announcement for the upcoming third season. The decision comes in the wake of allegations from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accusing Biković of supporting the Russian invasion.
A spokesperson for HBO confirmed the decision, stating, “We have decided to part ways with Miloš Biković, and the role will be recast.” The move follows a video released by the Ukrainian foreign ministry last month, branding Biković as “the Kremlin’s foreign mouthpiece” and linking him to the justification of Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry took to social media to express their concern, questioning HBO’s association with an individual allegedly supporting actions deemed violating international law. The tweet posed a direct question to the network, asking, “Is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide and violates international law?”
Miloš Biković, Serbian actor who has been supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion, is now set to star in HBO's The White Lotus Season 3@HBO, is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?
— MFA of Ukraine 🇺🇦 (@MFA_Ukraine) January 24, 2024
Biković, born in Belgrade, has appeared in several Russian films, including those shot in Crimea post-2014 annexation. He has consistently admired Russian culture and was honored with the prestigious Pushkin Medal by Vladimir Putin in 2018 for his contributions to promoting Russian culture. This recognition led to Biković obtaining Russian citizenship.
In response to the controversy, Biković posted a statement on Instagram, emphasizing his upbringing in a war-torn country. He stated, “I grew up in a war-torn country. At the age of 11, I endured days and nights in shelters while my homeland and my hometown were bombed. I could never wish such devastation on anyone.” He portrayed the allegations as a targeted campaign against him, possibly aimed at influencing decisions that could set a precedent affecting artistic freedom.
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The Ukrainian accusations come amidst active conflicts and geopolitical tensions, with Biković expressing a desire for all disputes to cease and for love to prevail. However, the actor has a complex history, banned from Ukraine in 2019 for national security reasons.
The third season of The White Lotus, an Emmy-winning series, is set to commence filming in Thailand later this month. Despite the controversy, the show’s new cast includes Parker Posey, Jason Isaacs, Leslie Bibb, and Michelle Monaghan, with the season expected to air in 2025, according to Variety reports. The decision to recast Biković’s role raises questions about the intersection of art, politics, and international relations in entertainment.
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