Onscreen, Lily-Rose Depp and the Weeknd couldn't be closer on HBO's The Idol. Their characters, troubled pop star Jocelyn (Depp) and sleazy nightclub owner Tedros (the Weeknd a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye), form an instant attraction in the series premiere, albeit with very dark forces and secrets pushing them together. However, Depp reveals that things were a little different off screen while they were filming the five-episode season.
"I don't think anybody went full method — nobody lost their minds," Depp tells EW. After a pause, she adds, "Well, sometimes when Abel would get — I don't want to reveal too much about where Abel's character goes, but when he would be in full Tedros mode sometimes, I would steer clear of him. I'd be like, 'He's in his zone right now.'"
Eddy Chen/HBO Lily-Rose Depp and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye on 'The Idol'
HBO and A24's drama co-created by Tesfaye, Reza Fahim, and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson centers on Jocelyn, one of the most famous pop stars in the world whose career was derailed after she suffered a very public nervous breakdown triggered by her mother's death. Now she's looking to make her comeback as a seemingly chance encounter-turned-sexual awakening with secretive nightclub owner Tedros promises to either be her creative salvation ... or the ruination of her very soul.
The Idol became the subject of controversy when Rolling Stone published an exposé in March detailing claims that the production had become a "s--- show" under Levinson, who took over directing the series after the departure of original helmer Amy Seimetz. Amid production delays, rewrites, and reshoots, 13 members of the cast and crew called Levinson's new creative direction disturbing, citing certain scenes that allegedly play out like "rape fantasies" and "torture porn." Despite this report, Depp and costar Troye Sivan tell EW that their experience filming the series was "fun."
"For something that does, of course, explore darker themes and has some pretty heavy emotional moments to it and everything, the vibe on set was quite lighthearted," Depp says. "We're all really good friends and we all are similar people and really understand each other. We were having a lot of laughs, listening to a lot of music, dancing around, and that kind of energy is what made the heavier moments easier and possible, because whenever you knew that there was a bigger, emotional scene coming up, you felt like you were surrounded by people that you feel comfortable with, people that have your back, and you feel that in the show."
Sivan points out that Levinson's approach to filming only added to that energy. "Because of the way Sam shot the show, I have this amazing memory of shooting a party scene where literally it's three cameras rolling and it's a real party," he says. "We were just having the best time. And the fact that so many people on the show are musicians, music was a really big part of it — Sam was the DJ, playing music between takes and playing it loud."
"Sam was a great DJ," Depp adds. "We had a lot of Depeche Mode, Smashing Pumpkins, Barry Gibb. It was so fun."
The Idol's five-episode season debuts Sunday, June 4 at 9 p.m. ET/ PT on HBO and will be available to stream on Max.