HBO’s The Idol first came about in July 2021, and a lot has happened since that first announcement. Anticipation was high since the beginning, considering The Weeknd was starring in it as well as serving as a co-writer and a co-executive produce the series alongside Reza Fahim and Sam Levinson.
Things started getting weird in April of last year, when HBO shared a statement about the show taking on “a new creative direction.”
“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,” HBO said in a statement at the time. “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.”
However, a trailer lifted the spirits of fans in July 2022, and so did a second, more convincing trailer in August. It revealed a star-studded cast: Moses Sumney, Jennie Ruby Jane of Blackpink, Troye Sivan, Ramsey, Mike Dean, Dan Levy, Hank Azaria, Suzanna Son, Jane Adams, Rachel Sennott, and more. Another trailer arrived in October, really capturing the intensity of the series.
Today, March 1, Rolling Stone published a massive report on the alleged “sh*tshow” of The Idol. Anonymous sources say that The Weeknd was unhappy with the focus on the “female perspective,” leading to the departure of director Amy Seimetz. Levinson’s role subsequently intensified. A source says the direction of the show has turned into “any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show.”
Anonymous sources spoke about the disturbing nature of the new material. According to Rolling Stone:
“At various points, Levinson’s scripts contained disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes between [Lily-Rose] Depp and Tesfaye’s characters, three sources familiar with the matter claim. In one draft episode, there allegedly was a scene where Tesfaye bashes in Depp’s face, and her character smiles and asks to be beaten more, giving Tesfaye an erection. (This scene was never shot, the source says.) Another proposed scenario was for Depp to carry an egg in her vagina and if she dropped or cracked the egg, Tesfaye’s character would refuse to ‘rape’ her — which sent Depp’s character into a spiral, begging him to ‘rape’ her because she believed he was the key to her success. (This scene also was not filmed because production couldn’t find a way to realistically shoot the scene without having Depp physically insert the egg, another source explains.)”
The source added, “It was a show about a woman who was finding herself sexually, turned into a show about a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it.”
Apparently, The Weeknd’s busy music schedule didn’t help either. “It was really frustrating because they were working so hard to make it possible to shoot and be released with his concert or whatever his timeline was [and] it all got thrown out the window,” a source said.
Of course, The Weeknd merely responded with a snarky tweet, sharing clip from the show in which a character calls Rolling Stone “irrelevant.”