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The Weeknd opens up about 'The Idol' and the controversy surrounding the highly-anticipated HBO series. Get all the latest updates on the series, including the most recent trailer.
HBO has been on a roll creating hit TV shows like The White Lotus, House of the Dragon, and The Last Of Us, and the network hopes to keep that trend going with the upcoming drama series The Idol. There’s certainly a lot of buzz around this show Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and The Weeknd (yes, the singer!) are the masterminds behind the Lily-Rose Depp-starring show, which will premiere on June 4.
A new trailer was released on April 17 that teased the chaos and drama to come. The show follows Lily-Rose’s Jocelyn, an aspiring pop star, falling in love with The Weeknd’s Tedros, a self-help guru/modern-day cult leader. Their relationship becomes extremely complicated and toxic as their professional lives bleed into their personal ones. There’s already been major controversy surrounding the show involving alleged behind-the-scenes drama, which The Weeknd addressed in new interviews with W Magazine and Vanity Fair. HollywoodLife has rounded up everything you need to know about The Idol, including the release date, the cast, and the behind-the-scenes drama.
The first teaser trailer for The Idol was released by The Weeknd in July 2022, as he kicked off his ‘After Hours Til Dawn’ tour in New Jersey. The footage shows Jocelyn striking up a romance with Tedros, which quickly turns tense. Jocelyn tells Tedros that she doesn’t trust him.
The second teaser trailer was released by The Weeknd in August 2022. It features other characters saying that they’re using Jocelyn to “sell sex,” after she struts into a record company barely wearing clothes.
The third teaser trailer dropped in October 2022, courtesy of HBO. It shows Tedro warning Jocelyn to “trust no one” but him. Tedro blindfolds Jocelyn in the music studio and seduces her. The full trailer for The Idol has yet to be released.
A fourth teaser was released on April 17. “You got the best job in the world. You should be having way more fun,” Tedros tells Jocelyn in the trailer. Jocelyn and Tedros begin dating and working together on her music. At one point, people start believing that Tedros has brainwashed Jocelyn. “I promise you, there’s a new Jocelyn coming,” the tearful pop star says in the final moments of the teaser.
HBO has announced that The Idol will premiere on June 4. The show was expected to premiere in 2022 but got delayed to 2023. A Rolling Stone article published in March 2023 revealed behind-the-scenes drama. At the time, production was “in the dark on when the show will make it to air, and have little idea about what the final version will look like.”
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Allegedly, the show’s been delayed because of rewrites that took place once Sam Levinson replaced Amy Seimetz as director after she departed the six-episode show before they filmed the final episode. Per Rolling Stone‘s sources, the show was rewritten and reshot under Sam’s leadership, which has affected the show’s delayed release.
Lily-Rose Depp stars as Jocelyn in The Idol. Lily-Rose, 23, is the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. Her past acting jobs include the movies The King, Voyagers, and Silent Night. The Idol is Lily-Rose’s first television show. Back in March 2022, Lily-Rose told Wonderland that “the more I learn about the story and the character, the more I have a special feeling about this. The team around me are so great and I’m in really great hands. I’ve never done a show before and I’ve never held on to a character for this long before so I’m ready for that challenge as well.”
Lily-Rose told W Magazine that she knows her character will be compared to Britney Spears. “Of course I’m a Britney fan!” she said. “Who doesn’t love Britney? But I was also thinking about Beyoncé, Mariah, and every huge pop star of our time. I wanted Jocelyn to be the kind of woman who can dominate a room, someone who doesn’t ever shy away from their sparkle.”
The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, plays Tedros in The Idol. He co-created the show with Sam Levinson and Reza Fahim and he’s also one of the executive producers. This is The Weeknd’s official acting debut. He’s known for his theatrical music videos and appeared as himself in the 2019 Adam Sandler movie Uncut Gems.
The Idol cast also includes Jennie Kim, Suzanna Son, Troye Sivan, Jane Adams, Dan Levy, Eli Roth, Hank Azaria, Rachel Sennott, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.
As we mentioned before, Rolling Stone released intel on how production on The Idol changed once Sam Levinson took control. Allegedly, Sam decided to “weaken the show’s overarching message,” by focusing more on the sexual content, rather than the story of an up-and-coming pop star falling in love with a cult leader.
Sources claimed to Rolling Stone that director Amy Seimetz “seemed set up to fail from the start” by HBO. Amy reportedly “was given half-finished scripts, a tight schedule, and near-impossible expectations from HBO” while she was working on the show, Rolling Stone reported. Also, HBO reportedly only gave the show a $54 million budget, much less than the $97 million it cost to create the second season of Euphoria. The Rolling Stone report also claimed that The Weeknd and Sam had limited availability to work on the show, because they were busy with touring and Euphoria, respectively.
After Sam replaced Amy as director of the rest of the series in April 2022, a report from Deadline came out that claimed The Weeknd was “unhappy” that the show focused more on Lily-Rose Depp with a “female perspective.” Regarding this situation, a source told Rolling Stone, “It was like the Weeknd wanted one show that was all about him — Sam was on board with that.”
Following the release of Rolling Stone‘s report, The Weeknd took to Twitter on March 1 and jabbed at the allegations by sharing a scene from the show, in which his character bashes the news outlet. He also cheekily asked, “Did we upset you?”
.@RollingStone did we upset you? pic.twitter.com/Uyx06lyRgx
— Abel Tesfaye (@theweeknd) March 1, 2023
In a statement given to PEOPLE, HBO denied the accusations and shared how the network is excited about the new show. “The creators and producers of The Idol have been working hard to create one of HBO’s most exciting and provocative original programs. The initial approach on the show and production of the early episodes, unfortunately, did not meet HBO standards so we chose to make a change. Throughout the process, the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew. We look forward to sharing The Idol with audiences soon,” the statement read.
Lily-Rose also gave her own statement to PEOPLE and praised Sam Levinson, saying, “Sam is, for so many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with. Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued. Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way – it matters to him, more than anything, not only what his actors think about the work, but how we feel performing it. He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.”
The Weeknd addressed the alleged drama in a May 2023 interview with W Magazine. He confirmed that he changed the direction of the show when Sam was working on Euphoria because he felt that the relationship between Tedros and Jocelyn wasn’t complex enough. “Film and TV is a new creative muscle for me,” The Weeknd said. “I don’t release my music until I think it is great. Why would this be any different?” The Weeknd also said that “it was a challenge” to redo the show. “In truth, I sacrificed my health and home to make it work. So, let’s say it comes out and it’s f****** horrible. I still know I did my absolute best,” he said. “From what I’ve seen, the show is great. Everything is a risk: When you’ve done the best you can, I would call that a happy ending.”
Sam told W Magazine that “quitting the show wasn’t an option” for him or The Weeknd. “It was a dream that we had together, and we had to see it through,” he explained. “If we were going to reshoot from the beginning, I knew it had to be for less money. Sitting in Abel’s house, looking around at the 40,000 square feet, I said, ‘It’s stunning here—you can’t buy production design like this. What if we shoot it here?’ Abel put down his drink and said, ‘Do you have insurance?’ I said yes. And he said, ‘I’m okay with it.’”
In his May 2023 Vanity Fair cover story, The Weeknd called the Rolling Stone story “ridiculous.” He added, “I wanted to give a ridiculous response to it.” The singer noted that he “really loved” working with Amy. He also describes Lily-Rose as the show’s third creator alongside him and Sam. “I want to leave people the opportunity to be surprised,” Lily-Rose told the outlet. “I think it’s interesting that people have so much to say about the show already and they haven’t even seen it.” HollywoodLife will continue to share updates on The Idol right here.
'The Idol': Photos Of The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp & The Rest Of The Cast
‘The Idol’ Updates: The Cast, Premiere Date, Behind-The-Scenes Drama & More You Need To Know – HollywoodLife