The Weeknd has addressed the production troubles on his upcoming HBO series The Idol, describing the show’s overhaul as a “challenge”.
Set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, The Idol follows aspiring pop singer Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) who falls into a complex relationship with self-help guru and cult leader Tedros (Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd).
The series, created by Tesfaye, Reza Fahim and Euphoria’s Sam Levinson, underwent an overhaul in April 2022 after a rough-cut was completed. This led to various changes in the cast and crew, including the departure of director Amy Seimetz.
According to an interview with Tesfaye and Levinson with W Magazine, the singer was concerned the dynamic between his cult figure character and Jocelyn in the original cut was “not as complex” as they had envisioned, which led to a “pivot”.
“Film and TV is a new creative muscle for me,” Tesfaye told the outlet. “I don’t release my music until I think it is great. Why would this be any different?”
He added: “My secret skill is that I don’t panic. When everyone around me is worried, I get very still. But I did panic when I lost my voice. I had to rest and reflect and think about The Weeknd and Tedros and all that had happened with the show.
“I realised that I need to know that I’ve made the best version of whatever I’m making. It was a challenge to redo The Idol, and, in truth, I sacrificed my health and home to make it work. So, let’s say it comes out and it’s fucking horrible. I still know I did my absolute best. From what I’ve seen, the show is great. Everything is a risk: When you’ve done the best you can, I would call that a happy ending. And I got my voice back.”
In a report on Rolling Stone earlier this year, various anonymous sources alleged that Levinson’s rewrites and reshoots added more nudity and disturbing sexual content which changed the show’s message.
HBO issued a statement in response to the report, which read: “The initial approach on the show and production of the early episodes, unfortunately, did not meet HBO standards so we chose to make a change.
“Throughout the process, 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.”
The Idol is scheduled to premiere on June 4, 2023.
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