Actor Milos Bikovic has been dropped from the cast of popular TV series “The White Lotus,” an HBO spokesperson said, after the Serbian native’s ties to Russia drew a sharp rebuke from Ukraine.
Bikovic, who was cast for the third season of the award-winning dark comedy just weeks ago, protested against the network’s decision as “the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.”
An HBO spokesperson, asked by AFP for comment, said on Saturday only that “we have decided to part ways with Milos Bikovic and the role will be recast.”
When HBO originally announced the casting of Bikovic on January 12, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry made its displeasure clear.
Posting on social media platform X, it said the actor had “been supporting Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.
It added, “HBO, is it all right for you to work with a person who supports genocide & violates international law?”
Bikovic said Saturday on X that he does not support any wars, pointing to his experience growing up during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
“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 a devastation on anyone,” he said.
Bikovic said he wished for all active conflicts everywhere “to stop and for the principles of love to prevail.”
In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin conferred on Bikovic the Pushkin medal for contributions to Russian culture, and he was subsequently given Russian citizenship.
“It is a great honor to say today: Russia is my homeland,” the actor wrote at the time.
In 2019, he said he had been banned from Ukraine “for national security reasons.”
Bikovic has starred in a number of Russian productions and has spoken out regularly about his admiration of Russian culture.
Filming of the third season of Emmy-winner “The White Lotus” will begin this month in Thailand, with the show set to air in 2025, Variety reported.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter