Sabrina Impacciatore: ‘I love Soho House Rome’

Sabrina Impacciatore: ‘I love Soho House Rome’ | Soho House

The Italian actress (and arguably the breakout star of ‘The White Lotus’ season two) on her favourite House, her bitchy alter-ego and her NBF Jennifer Coolidge

Monday 14 October 2022   By Martha Hayes

There aren’t many unknown actresses who could walk onto the set of one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television, call iconic Hollywood star Jennifer Coolidge ‘Peppa Pig’, and then become her BFF. And that’s precisely why Sabrina Impacciatore, the Italian comedian cast as the hotel manager in season two of Emmy Award-winning TV series, The White Lotus, won’t be unknown for much longer. 

It was only Impacciatore’s second day filming the social satire – which acutely observes the disgruntled staff and grotesquely wealthy guests of an exclusive resort – when she was tasked with improvising a scene with Coolidge, who (despite a move from Hawaii to Sicily and the introduction of an entirely new cast) reprises her role as the famously unhinged hotel guest, Tanya. 

Hotel manager Valentina (Impacciatore) is hiring Tanya (dressed top to toe in pink) a Vespa for the day, when she tells her she looks like Peppa Pig. 

‘It just came out, I couldn’t stop it. But then I was like, “Oh my god, what have I done?”’ recalls Impacciatore, 54. ‘But Jennifer was laughing so much. And at the end, she just said, “You are a very brave actress.”’ 

Joining a star-studded cast – which also boasts Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza and Theo James – as a character as integral as the hotel manager (the first season won Murray Bartlett an Emmy for the same role, after all) would be intimidating for any actor, let alone an Italian-speaking actress with no experience in Hollywood. 

‘Mike White [the show’s creator and writer] wanted Valentina to be really bitchy,’ explains Impacciatore, who studied at the Actors Studio in New York and started out impersonating Lara Croft in Italian. ‘Imagine the pressure already with playing this role, and then being bitchy – I thought, “Oh my god, people are going to hate me.”’ 

‘I was so scared. Mike said, “Remember, you have no empathy at all for your customers.” And I was like, “Really, not even for Jennifer?” He said, “The bitchier you are, the more it’s going to work.”’

Knowing Mike was big on improvisation and few rehearsals, Impacciatore recalls being so nervous on her first day that she had a panic attack. It happened when she was running lines in a room with two fellow Italian actresses and The Sopranos star Michael Imperioli.

‘I will never forget it,’ she says. ‘Michael took me in his arms and told me, “Sabrina, it’s OK, you’re feeling like this because I feel the same, you can count on me.” I felt protected and safe, and it was so touching. We are still friends.’

It wasn’t long, of course, before Impacciatore was counting Coolidge as a close friend, too. ‘We had the best time together, shopping and having romantic dinners, just me and her. And there’s more to come,’ she laughs.

Filming and staying at the Four Seasons, San Domenico Palace in Taormina over a three-month period allowed the whole cast plenty of bonding time. ‘Inside it was just us,’ smiles Impacciatore. ‘The nicest thing was meeting in the bar for an aperitif after a day of filming. We spent a lot of time together, celebrated birthdays, had dinners and did karaoke with Este Haim [the show’s music consultant] who was, of course, the best singer.’ 

Currently based in Rome where she was born, but having lived everywhere from Paris to Spain, Impacciatore is no stranger to Soho House. ‘We were so excited when we heard that Soho House Rome was opening,’ she says, listing enthusiastically the number of times she’s visited our Italian outpost, which recently celebrated its first birthday.

And if her breakthrough in The White Lotus is anything to go by, she’ll be able to visit other Houses, as she’ll soon be in demand for jobs much further afield. Her most diva request? A bowl of ice for her face when she has a particularly early morning call time. On the set of The White Lotus, that was 3.30am. 

‘I opened my hotel room door and there was a waiter with… it wasn’t a bowl, it was more like a bath. They brought me something so big, I could have swum in it and I couldn’t stop laughing. I said, “Thank you for making me laugh so much at three o’clock in the morning.”’ 

No doubt the feeling was mutual. 

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