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The Weeknd’s HBO Show The Idol Hits Giant Snag

The Weeknd
Pari Dukovic

The Weeknd is getting into series television with a project titled The Idol for HBO, and he’s recruited Euphoria creator Sam Levinson to help him. Which tracks. The man, also known as Abel Tesfaye, is famous for creating elaborate mythologies and storylines around his music. So much so that he recently convinced a good chunk of people that he really did get extensive plastic surgery (he did not, it was all just part of a story he was telling around his album After Hours).

He’s also spoken of trying his hand at screenwriting before but has refused to elaborate on any of the details. You can tell from his music videos alone, the man definitely watches a lot of movies.

According to Deadline, The Weeknd will co-create the project with Levinson and his own longtime creative producer Reza Fahim. Lily-Rose Depp has signed on to co-star with Troye Sivan joining the cast as a series regular.

Here’s everything we know about the series so far.


Will The Weeknd star in The Idol?

In addition to his behind-the-scenes work, Tesfaye will also co-star in the series. He’s previously tried his hand at acting in Uncut Gems, and he certainly seems to give his dramatic all in his music videos. Mary Laws, a playwright who also penned the script for the film The Neon Demon and episodes of Succession, has joined as a writer and co-producer.

What is The Idol about?

According to a statement from the show, The Idol, “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?

Who Will Lily-Rose Depp Play?

Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Officially, her character is unofficial. HBO isn’t saying a word. Though, Deadline reports that Depp will likely play the troubled pop star. Which tracks. At 22-years-old, she’s certainly around the right age to play a pop star in her prime. 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.

Who is in the cast of The Idol?

Along with The Weeknd and Depp, The Idol just released a slate of new actors who will be joining the cast. Australian singer Troye Sivan has been announced as a series regular, as has Suzanna Son and Steve Zissis. In addition, Melanie Liburd, Tunde Adebimpe, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, Nico Hiraga, and Anna Heche are joining the cast in recurring roles.

When is the release date?

According to Deadline, while pre-production had already begun the show has hit a major creative snag is now undergoing a complete creative shift. “The Idol’s creative team continues to build, refine, and evolve their vision for the show and they have aligned on a new creative direction. The production will be adjusting its cast and crew accordingly to best serve this new approach to the series. We look forward to sharing more information soon,” an HBO spokeswoman told Deadline.

What channel is it on?

HBO, which means it would also likely stream on HBO Max.

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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