As they say in Hollywood, all publicity is good publicity, and The idol is about to put that old adage to the test. HBO’s new show starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd premieres on Sunday, so people will finally see for themselves if it really is as outrageous as reports suggest.
The show follows Depp’s character, Jocelyn, a sexy pop star who tries to reclaim her crown after a nervous breakdown. As she tries to make a comeback, Jocelyn tangles with nightclub owner Tedros (played by Abel “the Weeknd” Tesfaye), who leads an NXIVM-like cult. “Will her romantic awakening take her to glorious new heights or to the deepest, darkest depths of her soul?” the connection line reads.
here’s why The idolhas sparked controversy in recent months.
Director Amy Seimetz leaves the series
In April 2022, it was revealed that The idol was undergoing a major creative overhaul. Seimetz, who has nearly completed the entire project, is gone, as is rising actress Suzanna Son. According to Deadline, “the crux of the matter” was that Tesfaye – who co-created the series with Euphoria‘s Sam Levinson – felt the show leaned too much towards a “female perspective”. (He later denied this in interviews.)
The idol tagged “torture porn” in rolling stone expose
Thirteen cast and crew members spoke anonymously to the outlet and claimed the show had been “wildly and disgustingly derailed”. Levinson essentially scrapped the entire first draft of the show, which caused costly and grueling delays while he allegedly rewrote the series, according to the March report. The alleged unrest on set coincided with a change in tone as the series was described as “sex torture porn”.
“It was, let’s just say, like a *** show,” one person claimed.
Seimetz’s version was more “about a troubled starlet victimized by a predatory industry figure and struggling to reclaim her own agency.” But The idol 2.0, according to a production worker, became “like any rape fantasy any toxic man would have on the show – and then the woman comes back for more because it enhances her music”.
Depp and HBO released statements defending the show and Levinson.
“Sam is, for many reasons, the best director I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued,” Depp told Yahoo in a statement. “Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way – which matters to him, more than anything, not just what his actors think of the job, but how we feel about playing it. He hires people he values work and always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard and appreciated.”
The network added to Yahoo, “The creators and producers of The idol have worked hard to create one of HBO’s most exciting and provocative original programs. The initial approach to the series and the production of the first episodes, unfortunately, did not meet HBO standards, so we chose to make a change. Throughout the process, the creative team was committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and mutually respectful work environment, and in the past year the team made some creative changes that they felt were in the best interest. both from the production, cast and crew. We look forward to sharing The idol with the public soon.”
rolling stone stuck to his report.
Tesfaye sacrificed his “health and his home” to resume the show and called the rolling stone “ridiculous” article
In order to reduce some of the reshoot costs, the superstar allowed the series to be filmed at his mega mansion in Bel Air, California. Levinson even moved his family into Tesfaye’s house as he reworked the scripts.
“Film and TV are a new creative muscle for me,” said Tesfaye O. “I don’t release my music until I think it’s great. Why would it be any different?… I realized I needed to know that I had done the best version of everything. that I do. It was a challenge to do again idol, and, in truth, I sacrificed my health and my home to make it work. So let’s say it comes out and it’s horrible. I always know that I did my best. From what I’ve seen, the show is awesome. Everything is a risk: when you have done your best, I would call it a happy ending.”
In a separate interview with vanity loungeTesfaye called the rolling stone “ridiculous” presentation. He was offended by what he saw as the report’s subtext – “These are rapists trying to act out a rape fantasy” – and found it to be an attack on his character. Tesfaye said he considered Depp the show’s third creator and dismissed the rumor that he thought the show revolved too much around his character. (“I know it’s easy for people to be like, ‘Oh, he wanted to be the star.’)
Depp added to vanity lounge“I think it’s interesting that people already have so much to say about the show and they haven’t even seen it.”
Tesfaye said that scheduling conflicts prevented Seimetz from working on reshoots. “I actually really loved working with Amy,” the musician explained, “and I’m sure she reads the whole thing like, ‘Why am I thrown into this?'” (She didn’t commented publicly amid the drama.)
The idol finally premieres in Cannes – and is exhausted
Early reviews of the show are not positive. “The idol is more toxic and far worse than you’ve heard,” read rolling stonethe title. Variety said the series “plays like a sordid male fantasy”. Time said the series “pretends to expose exploitation while reveling in it”. The envelope called it “dirty luxury”.
Depp’s nudity is also a hot topic
Although the actress has been widely praised for her acting, many articles out of Cannes have revolved around her “gratuitous” nudity. It’s a criticism that Levinson has faced Euphoria, Also. Johnny Depp’s daughter has defended her character’s “nakedness”.
“I think something about Jocelyn is just that she’s a born and bred artist,” she said at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival, according to People. “I think it extends to all aspects of her life, not just her professional life. I think the way she dresses, for example, is trying to tell you something all the time or say something. thing to the people she meets or express herself in one way or another.”
The 24-year-old added, “And I also think the character’s occasional nudity physically reflects the nudity we see emotionally in her.”
The idol Actress defends Depp’s on-screen nudity
During an interview with Yahoo, Jane Adams responded to criticism from Cannes.
“With Lily-Rose, why would nudity be a bad thing? What are people talking about? I don’t understand,” she explained. “I don’t even believe this mindset is real. This whole mindset feels fake to me, this outrage and pearl-taking that’s going on about a naked actress who’s beautiful. When is it become outrageous?”
Adams called Depp “one of the best actresses I’ve ever worked with” and defended Levinson.
“It’s exciting working with Sam because you just don’t know what to expect in the best sense of the word. It’s not boring. It’s not sure…it’s the opposite of snoozy,” she said. “For someone like me who likes adrenaline rushes, there are a lot of them.”
The veteran actress added, “I don’t know what’s going on in society today, but there are all these people who claim they don’t have a dark side. I find that scarier than anything. In The idol. It’s terrifying to pretend everyone is Goody Two-shoes.”
The idol premieres Sunday, June 4 at 9 p.m. on HBO. It will also be available to stream on Max.