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‘The White Lotus’ Star Sabrina Impacciatore Shed Light On The Valentina Scene You Didn’t Get To See In Sunday’s Episode

The White Lotus star Sabrina Impacciatore, who plays the eponymous hotel’s uptight and closeted manager Valentina, finally got what she needed in Sunday night’s episode: the chance to be vulnerable with someone. (Woah, what did you think we were going to say!?)

After weeks of awkwardly pining after perky concierge Isabella (Eleonora Romandini), Valentina shared that it was her birthday and finally worked up the nerve to ask her out for a post-work drink. Isabella agrees, then later shares the heartbreaking news that she is engaged to fellow staffer Rocco (Federico Ferrante), who Valentina had previously banished to the beach club portion of the hotel — after noticing how friendly the two seemed to be with each other.

But the birthday gods were with Valentina, as she instead decided to have a solo drink in the hotel bar, where she was joined by Mia (Beatrice Grannò), the newbie escort who really just wants to sing for a living. When a tipsy Valentina tells Mia that she is gay, but has never been with a woman, Mia suggests they move their conversation to one of the hotel’s empty rooms.

Though plot twists are a common occurrence on The White Lotus, moments of tenderness are few and far between — but that’s exactly what we get when Valentina and Mia adjourn to an empty suite and engage in what might be the most authentic moments of intimacy we’ve yet to see this season (or last).

For Impacciatore, much of the feeling you’re seeing on-screen is authentic, as it marked the first sex scene in the actress’ 25-year career. Though she admitted to being nervous about it, the actor says having an intimacy coordinator was “really helpful and effective and safe.” The more challenging moment was the scene in which she admits she has never been with a woman.

“I remember what I felt,” Impacciatore told Variety. “I was not acting, I was living the conflict of this character in a very deep way. It made me understand, how do people that don’t accept themselves live their lives?”

While, up until this point, Mia and her BFF Lucia (Simona Tabasco) have been nothing but annoyances to Valentina, her feelings were much more complicated than that. “The attitude she has regarding Mia and Lucia is connected to her job, but it’s also connected to something inside her,” Impacciatore told Variety. “These two girls represent freedom. Valentina is repressed and compressed, and she isn’t connected with her feelings.”

In fact, it isn’t until Valentina spends the night with Mia that she finally feels free — and it was by working with White that they finally reached this point, which meant that some scenes were shot but never made it into the series:

Mike White and I didn’t talk much about this character — maybe for 10 minutes before shooting started… It was a real exploration. In the first days, I was just following Mike’s indications without really understanding where he wanted to bring me. But he wanted to explore with me, and some scenes we shot ended up being cut, including one about Valentina’s past where she says she was married once, to a man, but she wasn’t happy. So I invented a backstory about a husband who was abusive to her. I created everything I could to get close to her process. That day, when I shot the scene where I say, “I’ve never been with a woman before,” I remember what I felt. I was not acting, I was living the conflict of this character in a very deep way. It made me understand, “How do people that don’t accept themselves live their lives?” After that scene, I cried for half an hour. I jumped into Mike’s arms and told him, “I love you! Thank you!” And he said, “Sabrina? Why do you say that? It’s you who is doing these things.” And I told him, “I’m doing these things because of you. And I’m understanding more about life because of you.”

In Italy, to be gay is still a big issue. They don’t have rights in Italy. They cannot get married, they cannot have kids. And sometimes they get attacked in the streets just because they love someone of their own sex. So I started to understand the responsibility as an actress. We should accept and respect every different nature. So this scene was a deep experience for me.

(Via Variety)