Milos Pekovic exits HBO series amid controversy – Deadline

Exclusive, Updated with Pekovic's statementHBO has parted ways with actor Miloš Peković, who will no longer be a part of it White lotusSources say the upcoming third season finale will take place in a hotel in Thailand.

The series is not revealing character details but Pekovic is believed to have been cast in the small recurring role of Russian Valentin, a flirtatious yogi and life improvement guru at the hotel. The part will now be recast as production is about to begin in and around Koh Samui, Phuket and Bangkok.

“I was honored to be chosen to be a part of it White lotus“A television series that I value greatly and with colleagues whom I deeply respect,” Pekovic said in a statement you can read in full below. She added: “But my participation is not possible for reasons outside the scope of art, and I will not bow to any narrative that seeks to compromise my integrity.”

This decision comes more than a week after the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry summoned HBO over the selection of Serbian-Russian actor Pekovic.

When the US network was tagged in a video post including Bekovich's public comments, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry asked: “Is it right for you to work with someone who supports genocide and violates international law?”

In audio clips from Pekovic's interviews, they are shown side by side in the video with excerpts from White lotusHe appears to support Russia's occupation of Crimea, which became a prelude to the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The actor has traveled to the peninsula several times, including for work, which led to Ukraine being placed on a no-entry list in 2019. This could have put… Pekovic's name was quickly on the Ukrainian government's radar after his selection. White lotus It was announced on January 12.

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In the statement, in which Pekovic referred to his upbringing during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, he described last week's events as a “targeted campaign.” [that] It was unleashed against me, apparently as an outside maneuver to influence decisions that could create a disturbing precedent that overshadows the essence of artistic freedom.

“The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art,” he said.

The 36-year-old Serbian national has worked in Russia for more than a decade, becoming one of the country's most popular actors and working with prominent directors such as Oscar-winner Nikita Mikhalkov, who was sanctioned by the European Union for supporting the 2022 World Cup in Russia. Invade. In 2021, Pekovic was granted Russian citizenship under a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also awarded Pekovic a medal in 2018.

The video of the awards ceremony was included in the Ukraine video, where the State Department accused Bekovich of supporting the war.

On Twitter (now In a post on Instagram at the time, he wished there would be no wars, adding: “May God protect the lives of all those who are now in danger.”

There is no public record of Pekovic's support for the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine. But he has not condemned her in 2022 and has not done so since the devastating video was released last week.

It is likely that his silence contributed to his exit White lotus Because it put HBO in a difficult position as it tried to navigate geopolitical and artistic landmines.

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Pekovic, who saw the Serbian Foreign Ministry jump to his defense last week, found himself in a more difficult position. Condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine could have protected his chances of working in Hollywood — but at great personal risk.

The actor who became a father for the first time just two days before his birth White lotus The casting was announced, and came into the spotlight amid a major crackdown on dissent over the Ukrainian war in Russia, where ordinary citizens who express dissent face long prison sentences.

Here is Pekovic's full statement:

I grew up in a war-torn country. When I was 11 years old, I endured days and nights in bomb shelters while my country and hometown were bombed. I could not wish such devastation on anyone.

There are more and more active conflicts in the whole world. Every one is different. Every one is heartbreaking. I hope they all stop and that the principles of love prevail.

Today, a targeted campaign has been unleashed against me, apparently as an outside maneuver to influence decisions that could create a disturbing precedent that overshadows the very essence of artistic freedom. The result of such a narrative is the triumph of absurdity and the defeat of art.

I was honored to have been chosen to be a part of White Lotus, a TV series I have great respect for and with my colleagues I greatly respect. But my participation is not possible for reasons outside the scope of art, and I will not bow to any narrative that seeks to compromise my integrity.

I would like to thank everyone who stood by me. I wish my colleagues great success in creating the next season.

Regardless of everything, I strongly believe that art can heal. I believe it can help humanity unite. My beliefs and devotion to art will remain unchanged.

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