It promised to be the series of controversy, and it is. Sex, drugs and pop instead of rock & roll is what keeps alive, before its premiere this Sunday, June 4, in conversations, social networks and portals to The Idol, in addition, of course, the presence of The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, in front of the cast.
Depp is Jocelyn, a pop star, who rose to fame Britney Spears-style, and who was devastated and in crisis after the death of her mother. On the day she is rehearsing to record a video clip, in her mansion, an ex-lover posted online a close-up of her, with semen on her face.
To say that he is vulnerable is an understatement, and so he meets Tedros, the character of The Weeknd, a charismatic leader of a cult, and owner of a music club, which marks the acting debut of Canadian Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye.
The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp, when they arrived at the premiere of "The Idol" at the Cannes Film Festival. AFP Photo
The rumor was that the showrunner of the series, Sam Levinson, had misled HBO executives, and taken the original story to one of misogyny and violence.
Depp and The Weeknd, along with Levinson, who is the creator of Euphoria, also HBO, had their meeting with the international press -among them, Clarín-, at the Cannes Film Festival.
There is an abusive relationship between The Weeknd's characters and Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp's daughter. Photos HBO
It was the day after the screening of the first two episodes of the series, in a Lumière Room where no one entered, with seats reserved and sold out for days, and after the party of the series in an exclusive club, the Palm Club, in Palm Beach, on the other side of Cannes. At the party, we already told from Cannes that we were present, that The Weeknd was put as a DJ, with many songs from the '70s and '80s, while Lily-Rose and the rest of the cast danced wildly on the track.
The Weeknd, as DJ
From the Late Night Party, as promoted, they withdrew shortly before 5 a.m. It's noon and they will have rested somewhat. They are seen, if not radiant, effusive to explore, talk – and, it will be seen, defend themselves – of the series, which speaks to the dark side of celebrities in the world of music.
When and at what time "The Idol" premieres
There was an article in Rolling Stone about the series, which will occupy the day and time that Succession vacated on Sunday, and before that The Last of Us, which talked about last-minute changes, chaotic work environment and the fact that the original director, Amy Seimetz, was replaced by Levinson. It seems to have changed more than the direction, and from satire to a certain predatory misogyny of the music business.
Lily-Rose Depp is Jocelyn, a Britney Spears-style pop star. "But we don't rely on anyone," the French actress said.
Something Depp and The Weeknd denied. "It's always a sad and disheartening thing when these bad and false things circulate, about someone you really care about that you know isn't," the actress said.
"We know we're doing a show that's provocative, but still, it's weird," said Levinson, son of Barry, the Oscar winner Rain Man, with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Because when my wife read me the article, I said, 'I think we're about to have the biggest show of the summer.'
The Weeknd explained that the idea for "The Idol" came from "wanting to make a dark and twisted fantasy about the music industry."
In terms of the details of what I read in it, it just felt completely foreign to me. But I know who I am... People can write whatever they want. If I have one small objection, it is that they intentionally omitted everything that did not conform to the truth. But I think we've seen a lot of this lately," the director said.
The Weeknd explained that the idea for The Idol came from "wanting to make a dark, twisted fantasy about the music industry, and elevate it," although he did admit that "he's never met anyone like my character, really. Sam and I wanted to see if it was possible to create our own pop star, using my experiences, his and Lily's. Lest there be any doubt, he added that The Idol wants to be "a funny satire that makes people angry."
"Variety" was harsh: saying the series is "not outrageous but degrading."
And boy has he done it.
But is it not, perhaps, in one of those, too explicit? Variety called it "a sick male fantasy", and hitting Levinson, arguing that the product is not scandalous but degrading, and The Hollywood Reporter went further: he said it is more regressive than transgressive.
While Jocelyn rehearses a video at her mansion, an ex-lover posted a compromising photo of her online...
There is an explicit reference, not to sex but to Britney Spears in the opening episode of the series. Lily-Rose Depp clarified that the series is "not telling anyone else's story" than her character's. There are stars like Britney and other incredible stars who deal daily with the psychological weight of a life I haven't lived."
Levinson said that it is "because she is one of the greatest pop stars of all time," but that it has nothing to do with Jocelyn, nor that the main character is inspired by the princess of pop.
The Weeknd said "The Idol" wants to be "a funny satire that makes people angry."
"We didn't base this story on any particular star. We want to show in general how the world perceives pop stars and the pressure they have on them. It's constant pressure, you have to be what everyone wants you to be," he added.
The Weeknd, who was already in Argentina at Lollapalooza 2017, and will perform this year on October 18 and 19 at the River Plate stadium, did not stop throwing phrases as headlines. "Fame corrupts. It's very easy to surround yourself with people who look like myths, but it's also a very scary thing."
The Weeknd has already sold out the two shows he will do in October at River Plate. It will be his second visit to Argentina.
The director was the one who seemed to be most upset with the critical comments, and said that, if The Idol has a goal, it is to "emphasize the way in which the world perceives pop stars and the pressure that is on them", something that on the screen is seen not only in the relationship-abuse of Tedros and Jocelyn, but how they treat her from her closest entourage, read her producers. When Jocelyn wants to change to improve her next album, days before the release, you will see the criticism that is thrown at her.
On a certain "excess of explicit sexual scenes", Levinson defended himself, arguing that "we live in a hyper-sexualized world, and this series is the reflection of the way we have prostituted the pop culture of the United States. There, the influence of pornography on young people is very strong, on a psychic level. It's something that also happens in the music industry, and in the idealization of people on the Internet."