The Weeknd’s breakout role in the HBO series The Idol, might not have been quite the creative environment parties were looking for. The “Die For You” singer may have broken several streaming records, including becoming the first artist to cross the 100 million monthly listeners metric; however, according to reports, his television and film career could be off to a rocky start.
The recording artist, real name Abel Makkonen Tesfaye joined forces with Reza Fahim and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson to bring, in the network’s words, the “sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood” to light. While the show, slated to be released later this year, has recently undergone a “new creative direction,” Rolling Stone reports that the pivot wasn’t received well by cast and crew members.
According to Rolling Stone, the Oscar-nominated singer was not pleased that his co-star Lily-Rose Depp’s character received a bulk of the plot’s attention. As a result, allegedly, Tesfaye championed a major behind-the-scenes narrative shift to drop the story’s “feminist lens.”
A source told RS, “It was like the Weeknd wanted one show that was all about him — Sam was on board with that.” This could have supposedly played a part in director Amy Seimetz’s exit from the series back in April 2022. Another source shared, “What I signed up for was a dark satire of fame and the fame model in the 21st century,” but since the changes, “It went from satire to the thing it was satirizing.”
“It was like, ‘What is this? What am I reading here,’” said the source adding, “It was like sexual torture porn.”
The source shared that although Seimetz’s version would have contained sex scenes and nudity, production sources claim Levinson dramatically ramped up the explicit content with Tesfaye’s full support after taking over as director.
The outlet reached out to both Levinson and Tesfaye for comment. However, neither answered the request. On the other hand, Depp did provide a statement to Rolling Stone, in which she specifically sings the praises of Levinson. “[Levinson is] the best director,” said Depp before adding that she “felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input, and opinions more valued.”
Despite the anonymous reports shared with RS, HBO shared in a statement, “the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew.”