OPINION: Berlin high grad makes flirty cameo in Emmy winning Lotus series 

By Olivia Lawrence

A binge-worthy show, The White Lotus, is an HBO series that received 20 Emmy nominations and ultimately bagged 10. The show features breathtaking scenery and an equally breathtaking cameo by Austin Stowell. He’s a Berlin boy who went to Hollywood and made good.

HBO describes its six episode series as “sharp social satire following the exploits of various employees and guests at an exclusive Hawaiian resort over the span of one highly transformative week.”

I’d call The White Lotus an entertaining dissection of class warfare with the lush backdrop of Hawaii adding visual delight. Eight actors, as well writing and directing staff, were recognized with nominations.

Stowell adds a dollop of delight, too, although not at Emmy level as far as demands on his acting skills. His press promos say this about his brief but memorable appearance in this season’s final episode: “Austin Stowell goes shirtless!”

He plays a guy who catches the eye of Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuoid. Coolidge did win an Emmy for her Lotus character who does indeed have a look at Stowell. He sidles up next to her at the pool, playing a “resort-based sex worker” as a reviewer for Slash Film put it. Alas, she’s not interested and tells him, “Sorry, that chaise is taken. But you’re a very pretty man.”

Stowell, somewhere in his mid-30s, offers a scruffy-sexy look, with long hair, a week-old beard and a chiseled physique he unabashedly displays to Coolidge.

This heartthrob stuff could put him in league with stars such as Aiden Turner who turned the BBC series, Poldark, into something steamier than the network’s usual fare. Turner is another guy not shy about taking his shirt off.

This “local kid makes good story” is a fun one to follow. A Berlin High School grad, he grew up in Kensington, the youngest of three boys. His dad was a steelworker and his mom taught school. He got into the drama department at UConn, Storrs and received a bachelor of fine arts in 2007. He spent some time on stage with the Connecticut Repertory Theater.

I interviewed him years ago when he was getting some of his first breaks for big screen work. He came back home in 2011 for the premiere of Dolphin Tale at the Rave Berlin12 Theater. As I recall, it was a phone interview and a difficult one to secure. He had people who had to talk to other people in order for me to talk to him. I did go to the premiere but our paths didn’t cross. The movie was entertaining.

Since then, Stowell has gone on to many more film adventures: the sequel, Dolphin Tale 2; Love and Honor; and Whiplash. He had a starring role in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, a 2015 thriller.

Stowell told IMDB that he locked himself in a prison cell to get into his spy character, Francis Gary Powers. Definitely more than a pretty face.

My brief conversation, now more than a decade ago, left me the with impression Stowell was an alright guy. As for Emmys, maybe next time.

 Reach Olivia Lawrence at olawrence@record-journal.com. 


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