The Weeknd's 'The Idol': Lily-Rose Depp transforms into 'nasty, bad' pop star in new trailer for controversial series
More than one month after HBO's new show The Idol stirred controversy, fans are getting a glimpse at the Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp in Sam Levinson's revamped version. A new trailer for the erotic drama was released with the network announcing The Idol will premiere on Sunday, June 4 at 9 p.m. It's the first footage released since production sources alleged to Rolling Stone the series was essentially "torture porn."
Set to Britney Spears's song "Gimme More," the trailer opens with someone musing when the music industry had "the last truly-f****ing-nasty, nasty pop-girl." Enter Depp, who plays singer Jocelyn, and her character gets mixed up with a modern day cult leader.
"After a nervous breakdown derailed Jocelyn's (Lily-Rose Depp) last tour, she's determined to claim her rightful status as the greatest and sexiest pop star in America. Her passions are reignited by Tedros (The Weeknd), a nightclub impresario with a sordid past. Will her romantic awakening take her to glorious new heights or the deepest and darkest depths of her soul?" an official synopsis reads.
The two-minute trailer is packed with lots of steamy scenes, which should come as no surprise to anyone who watches Levinson's wildly successful HBO show Euphoria. The Idol is co-created by Levinson and the Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, and it underwent a creative overhaul last year. A Rolling Stone exposé featured anonymous sources who claimed the show's "gone wildly, disgustingly off the rails." Production insiders alleged the direction shifted with Levinson taking over as director as the provocative content supposedly increased. However, stars Depp and Tesfaye stand by their co-collaborator.
"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," the actress told Yahoo. "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."
A source told Yahoo there is "no conflict" between Tesfaye and Levinson and that the superstar preferred Levinson's vision for the show from his predecessor, director Amy Seimetz. The insider dismissed a report that Tesfaye wanted Seimetz out because she was leaning too much into a "female perspective."
"The show is still very much about [Lily-Rose's] character and she's been an integral part of the creative process," the source added.
In a recent interview in Interview magazine, Tesfaye said he and Depp got to be "free" and "vulnerable" on set because of Levinson.
"We had somebody that made us feel comfortable and safe, like we're all creating something that we could look back on and be proud of. And so big shout-out to Sam and that whole crew," the singer exclaimed. Although he danced around discussing the Rolling Stone report directly, Tesfaye talked about people who've already created a narrative about the show.
"I'm used to it more than someone like Sam, who's probably a little bit used to it now. And I'm sure Lily, definitely—Lily's stronger than both of us. But I've been judged since the beginning. My stuff's always kind of been provocative," he shared.
"But it gets a little complicated for me when there's more people involved. When it affects other people it hurts me a little bit," Tesfaye continued. "That's what I'm learning about the film business, is that when people start rumors, it really does hurt a lot of other people. A lot of people work hard on these projects. When I’m in my world, and you guys are coming at me, it’s like, alright, cool. I'm a big boy. I can figure it out. But you have 200 people working hard on a project like this, that hurts. Especially when what they're saying is far from the truth, but, what can you do?"
HBO issued a statement in support of The Idol last month.
"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," a rep told Yahoo. "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 Idol will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next month in the out of competition selection.