Skip to main content

How The White Lotus’ Steve Zahn Felt About The Penis Prosthetic For His Character

Steve Zahn as Mark Mossbacher in The White Lotus

The White Lotus on HBO, which recently wrapped its first season with a big finale reveal, treated viewers to a satirical commentary on social issues like white privilege with its ensemble cast. The guests, played by comedy vets including Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton and Molly Shannon, arrived at the White Lotus resort in Maui under myriad circumstances, but what Steve Zahn’s Mark Mossbacher was going through seemingly forced the actor to expose a big part of himself.

Experiencing a testicular-cancer scare in the first episode of The White Lotus, Steve Zahn’s Mark gave his boys a look, and — penis in hand — asked wife Nicole (Connie Britton) if she thought his balls appeared unusually large. I’d imagine it would take some testicular fortitude to go full-frontal for that amount of time (long enough for scrutiny), and while Zahn confessed to The Wrap that it wasn’t actually him and his penis in that scene, he did get to sign off on the prosthetic he used, saying:

No, that was my body double. I remember when I got the script asking [creator Mike White] if I was going to have to do full frontal. And he’s like, ‘No, it’s going to be a prosthetic.’ I asked if I was going to have to wear it and he goes, ‘Well, it’s two hours in the makeup chair and we don’t see your face so we don’t need you to.’ But I did have to approve the prosthetic that they used. He showed it to me first. And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’ll do.’

"That'll do," is the mightiest of responses for that kind of situation, no? But I digress.

Two hours in the makeup chair, though? I’d be interested to hear about that experience from the body double! Steve Zahn might have been more intimidated by the time-consuming process of applying the prosthetic, rather than the nudity itself. The actor has embodied many goofy, often-stoner roles in movies and TV shows like Reality Bites, Treme, Strange Wilderness and Out of Sight, and has partaken in his share of on-screen nudity — at least from behind. When asked why the body double didn’t just shoot the scene au naturel, Zahn said he was the wrong person to ask, given his background.

You’d have to ask the intimacy coordinator that question. I come from the old school where we were actually naked when we were naked. I mean, my ass is in so many movies and shows it’s not even funny.

I’m sure Steve Zahn’s fans over the years would beg to differ. The longtime comedic actor joined the rest of The White Lotus cast in bringing a biting hilarity to the overarching darkness of the series in a way that doesn’t work for every show. Not unlike the way showing prosthetic dongs doesn't work for every show.

The White Lotus’ entire first season is streaming now on HBO Max, and the network has already announced a Season 2 for the anthology series, which will follow a new group of vacationers at a different White Lotus property. If you’re looking for something new after you’ve finished The White Lotus, check out more of HBO Max’s original series, and be sure to stay up to date on all of the upcoming fall premieres with our 2021 Fall TV Schedule.

Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.