With a musical career punctuated by endless accolades and critical acclaim—it’s become clear that whatever The Weeknd produces is guaranteed to be a bonafide work of art. With no plans of getting comfortable in the creative space, he sets up his next field of play; the role of co-writer, co-producer and actor for HBO’s upcoming television series The Idol. Perhaps this comes as no surprise to some: the singer-songwriter had always demonstrated his flair for cinematic storytelling via his captivating music videos, most notably in the After Hours era. Yet The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, is but one highly-anticipated playing card in the dark world of The Idol. The series claims screen value for a number of other reasons—such as Tesfaye’s other co-creator on board: Sam Levinson, who helmed HBO’s seminal teen drama series: Euphoria.
Read on for everything we know about the six-episode series so far:
What is the plot of The Idol?
A dangerous peek into the world of the Hollywood music industry: the series follows a rising female pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) who finds herself entangled in a dangerous romance with one enigmatic L.A. club owner and secret cult leader, Tedros, played by Tesfaye himself. Its nuances are those of excess, as our main protagonist throws herself into a hedonistic world of sex, violence, drugs and thrill rides. From the initial seconds of the first trailer alone, The Idol is offered to be a dark tale of perversion and debauchery—coming “from the sick & twisted minds” of Levinson and Tesfaye.
The third and most recent trailer reveals the intoxicating whirlwind that is Jocelyn’s world and how she is sold as the ultimate image of sex to America, aptly phrased by Jane Adams’s character: “Let people enjoy sex, drugs and hot girls, okay?” After meeting Tesfaye’s character, Jocelyn seems to let herself loose; offering herself up to an even more treacherous and cutthroat environment in which Tedros warns her to “Trust no one. Just me.”
When will the series be released?
Whilst the show was first announced back in June 2021, the production and filming of the series have met with its fair share of necessary reworking—possibly due to the multiple changes in both cast and crew earlier this year. Most recently, HBO has confirmed that The Idol will be released in June later this year, presumably after the fourth season of ‘Succession’ is completed.
Who’s behind the series?
First and foremost, the A24 limited series’ key creators are The Weeknd himself, alongside Sam Levinson—who is behind hit teen drama Euphoria, also known for its dark and titillating narrative—and Reza Fahim, the singer’s close confidante cum creative producer. Prior to April 2022 however, Amy Seimetz had also been on board helming from the director’s seat. Seimetz, known for her acting in The Killing and The Girlfriend Experience, and directorial work on Atlanta, was slated to direct all six episodes but has since left the show, leaving Levinson to assert from a more directorial perspective.
Both A24 and Bron Studios are backing the series, which means the six-episode runner shares executive producers with cult film favourites like Licorice Pizza and Joker. As for the score, the trailers have seen both the electronic dance track of Justice’s ‘Planisphere’ and a sensual remix of Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby’ peppered throughout. Considering the narrative is centring itself around the music industry, it’ll be an exciting affair to see how the rest of the original music make-up comes into play.
Who is in the cast?
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After 7 years of making her mark solely in the film world, Lily-Rose Depp is slated to play the main female protagonist of ‘The Idol’. Known for her starring roles in psychological drama ‘Wolf’ and Netflix’s historical tale ‘The King’ alongside Timothée Chalamet, this will be Depp’s foray into the television scene.
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Abel Tesfaye (‘The Weeknd’)
Whilst this may be The Weeknd’s big debut in a leading role, the singer isn’t completely new to the world of screen. Apart from starring as himself in dark comedy ‘Uncut Gems’ in 2019, he had also previously taken part in the writing of an episode of ‘American Dad’ in 2020, which he also guest-starred in.
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Making a segue back into his acting career, the hit-making singer was spotted in the trailer and has been confirmed as one of the main cast members. Apart from his role in ‘The Idol’, he has also recently starred in a Paramount+ film production titled ‘Three Months’ centred around the plight of an individual exposed to HIV.
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Jennie Kim of Blackpink
Possibly the most highly-anticipated name on the list, Jennie of Blackpink is hardly a stranger to the world of stardom. Since the release of the trailer, the K-pop girl group member—who will be putting on her acting hat for the first time—has since amassed social media buzz for the short snippet of her as part of Depp’s character’s rehearsal crew.
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Rising actress Rachel Sennott received praise for her role as a Jewish, bisexual woman in last year’s ‘Shiva Baby’, and has since made her way to headline in the main ensemble cast of A24’s upcoming body horror picture ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’. Whilst her character in ‘The Idol’ is confirmed, the role for her is still up in the air.