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Everything to Know About The Idol Starring The Weeknd & Lily-Rose Depp

The controversial, highly-anticipated HBO series finally has a release date.

The Idol HBO

One of the year’s most highly-anticipated new TV series—which already has its fair share of controversy—is nearly here. The Idol, the brainchild of the artist formerly known as The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) and the “sick and twisted” minds behind Euphoria (Sam Levinson) premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 22nd, and will debut on HBO Max on Sunday, June 4th at 9pm ET.

The show follows pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) who, after a nervous breakdown, is hell bent on making her career comeback as “the biggest touring act ever.” To do so, she partners up with an über sleazy producer played by Tesfaye, who “brainwashes” her as the two descend into a world of sex, drugs and pop music.

The Idol is also co-created with Tesfaye’s longtime creative producer Reza Fahim. The cast includes Troye Sivan, Rachel Sennott, Moses Sumney, Dan Levy, Hari Nef and many more familiar faces. Read on for everything we know about the series so far:

Is there a trailer for The Idol?

There have been four teasers for The Idol. On April 17th, a teaser dropped featuring a clip backed by Britney Spears’ booming “Gimme More,” in a clear reference to the pop star’s career trajectory and symbolism in pop culture. “When was the last truly fucking nasty, nasty bad pop girl?” Troye Sivan’s character asks. The answer to who will be next is clearly Depp’s Jocelyn, who is seduced by Tesfaye’s character into becoming the Trojan horse of pop to deliver whatever murky message he is trying to sell. As Jocelyn gears up for what appears to be a major comeback tour, she falls into typically pop star traps, like a sex tape leak and a debaucherous lifestyle of drugs and sex. “You got the best job in the world. You should be having way more fun,” Tesfaye tells Jocelyn against a backdrop of the pair partying and sexing it up in nightclubs, cars and the studio.

Concerned friends say that Tesfaye’s character has “brainwashed” Jocelyn, who admits, “He’s really, like, unlocked something in me.” Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s character deadpans, “I ain’t seen no shit like this since the ‘90s.”

The final trailer for The Idol dropped on May 30th and picked up right where the first left off. It begins with Tesfaye’s character Tedros saying to Jocelyn (played by Depp) “You’re the American dream. Rags to riches. Trailers to mansions. You are Jocelyn, just be you.” Jocelyn is then seen in various settings—on stage, in boutiques, in the studio—as she navigates her return to pop stardom after a nervous breakdown derailed her last tour. She is being “guided” by Tedros, the cult leader-meets-guru, who to many of her confidants, seems to be brainwashing her.

The trailer is packed with pulsing music, drugs, champagne, and a bit of humor here and there. It is, like much of the series, centered around the often questionable actions of Jocelyn and Tedros as they navigate the next stages of the pop star’s career post-hiatus. Midway through the trailer, Jocelyn says to Tedros “I think I fell in love with you,” hinting at the evolution of their complicated, and seemingly toxic, relationship. The teaser concludes with Tedros eerily saying, “You're not a human being, you're a star,” and with Destiny (played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph) saying, “Never trust a dude with a rat tail.”

Who is in The Idol cast?

In addition to Tesfaye, who made his acting debut in Uncut Gems, and Depp, the cast is rounded out by Troye Sivan Sennott, Dan Levy, Eli Roth, Hari Nef, Jane Adams, Jennie Ruby Jane, Mike Dean, Moses Sumney, Ramsey and Suzanna Son and Hank Azaria.

Blackpink’s Jennie Ruby Jane

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Rachel Sennott

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Troye Sivan

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Dan Levy

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

During a Cannes press conference, Levinson also revealed that Alexa Demie would make a cameo as her Euphoria character, Maddy Perez. Levinson also reportedly confirmed that The Idol takes place in the same universe as Euphoria in general, leaving the door open for future crossovers.

What is the plot of The Idol?

According to a statement from the show about “the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood,” The Idol is “set against the backdrop of the music industry, centers on a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult, who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming pop idol.” This of course begs the question of which one is the titular “idol”: the actual famous pop star or the guy who has a cult devoted to him?

What is Lily-Rose Depp’s background?

Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This will be Depp’s first time on TV, and pretty much her first chance to helm any project. As for her singing ability, well, Depp had a memorable musical moment in one of her earliest films, Yoga Hosers. She took lead vocals on a rendition of Styx’s song “Babe.” Singing is also in her blood. Before her mother Vanessa Paradis became a Chanel model and actress, she actually first found fame at 14 as a teenage pop star in her native France. Paradis has kept up with her music career, most recently releasing a studio album in 2018.

Who is producer Reza Fahim?

Fahim is The Weeknd’s longtime creative producer, though the Iranian native first made his mark in Hollywood as a well-known nightlife guru himself. He’s best known for being the co-owner of former Silverlake hotspot Tenants of the Trees (a favorite among celebrities) but left nightlife with the ultimate goal of screenwriting.

When is the release date?

The Idol will premiere on HBO Max on June 4, 2023 at 9pm ET, with new episodes rolling out every week (notably in Euphoria’s Sunday spot).

Is it anything like The Neon Demon?

Several commenters have noticed some parallels between The Weeknd’s cinematic music videos and Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2016 film The Neon Demon before. Elle Fanning plays a young model who finds fame in Los Angeles who gets entangled with something like a cult (or at least occult-ish). It’s maybe not a surprise that the film’s co-writer Mary Laws has been recruited as a writer and producer for The Idol. We doubt she wants to directly repeat herself, but the two projects are bound to be compared.

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