Lukas Gage—beach lover, newlywed, The White Lotus alum—knows paradise when he sees it. “The water is a turquoise food-colored blue that I’ve never seen in my entire life. The sun hits it in this way that you can see these golden flakes go through the water,” the actor says on a June morning over Zoom, conjuring a recent trip to Mallorca as if by incantation. Flat rocks act like a “strong, firm mattress on the beach, with the most insane fine, soft sand.” And at sunset, he continues, the sky blushes pink and orange, so translucent “you can see through every cloud.” If that sounds like pure fantasy, he flashes a photo, still in disbelief: “It literally felt like CGI.”
Raised in seaside Encinitas, a short drive north of San Diego, the actor has an understandable affinity for water, which has played out in different ways onscreen. As Tyler in Euphoria, he slips into a backyard pool, hooking up with Maddy (Alexa Demie) before a house party of onlookers. In The White Lotus, Gage’s Dillon works at the titular Hawaiian resort, his hair salty from morning dips or clandestine exertion. On the latest season of You, the actor donned swim goggles (his comic touch) for an outré kind of shower scene. Now comes a more serene role, by way of a black-and-white campaign for Armani Beauty’s new Acqua di Giò Parfum. Gage and fellow actors Jonathan Daviss, Chase Stokes, and Michael Evans Behling—all part of the brand’s Gen A ambassador group—turn up to a pristine stretch of sand, where the saline air seemingly carries whiffs of bergamot, rosemary, and patchouli.
Gage describes a roundabout way back to fragrance, after a somewhat “triggering” introduction. “The first memory that comes to mind is working at Banana Republic when I was 15 and having to spray a certain section of the store with the most insane-smelling cologne I’ve ever smelled in my life,” he says. (A relatable experience, from the guy who would go viral for posting a director’s unmuted critique of his apartment. Gage has since bought his own place.) He went through a phase making concoctions of his brothers’ scents: “a little bit musky and intense—more Axe,” he jokes. As an actor, he’s come to put his attuned sense of olfaction to good use. “When you’re doing a bunch of takes and it’s starting to get stale and you’re maybe trying to think of different choices to keep it interesting, sometimes you’re like, ‘Get out of your head. Smell something, feel your feet on the ground, and just connect with this character,’” he explains. For him, fragrance “resets my brain and allows me to be in my body and not in my head.”
The actor is readying for work mode as we speak. “I’m starting a movie in an hour and a half, which is very fun,” Gage says from his Manhattan hotel room. Companion, a thriller, is taking him to the Hudson Valley—more countryside than coast—so he will be riding on memories of the week’s Turks and Caicos trip. (Husband Chris Appleton celebrated his 40th.) This water-themed conversation continues the island vibe, with a beach read’s sense of levity and a woody marine spritz as a backdrop.
Vanity Fair: What is your dream bathing setup, if you could play fantasy architect? Is it an outdoor shower; a marble soaking tub?
Lukas Gage: Oh, God. Can I have all of them? I want an outdoor shower because that sounds just hot and fun and amazing. I’m obsessed with baths: Epsom salts, bubble baths. That’s my jam. If I had to choose…No, actually, it’s going to be both. The water’s going to come down on your head like a shower, but you’re laying down in the bath. This is very serious to me. If I ever get the luxury of designing my entire house, the bathroom will be the most important part, for sure.