The Weekend wants his fans to know he’s absolutely not mad about the negative reviews his new HBO series The Idol has drawn.
In an interview with Variety released on Tuesday, Abel Tesfaye – better known as The Weeknd – claimed it was “highly anticipated” that the show would be panned by critics and viewers alike.
The series currently holds a shocking 16% rating from top critics polled by rotten tomatoesand viewers lambasted him on social media as well.
Much of the review has been for The Weeknd’s acting chops, including a review for Variety called “non-existent” in a particularly buzzy headline, while other critics and viewers complained that his show was “misogynistic” and amounted to “torture porn” due to its graphic nudity and scenes of sex, many of which feature Tesfaye co-star Lily-Rose Depp.
Depp, 24, leads the series as pop star Jocelyn, while The Weeknd, 33, plays Svengali-type nightclub owner Tedros, who takes control of his career.
Called it: Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye claimed he “highly expected” his HBO series The Idol to receive a lot of negative reviews and fan complaints – which she did – in a new interview with variety; seen on May 23 in Cannes, France
Intended to do this: “We’re playing with genres with this show, we’re doing exactly what we set out to do,” The Weeknd said. And none of this is a surprise. I’m glad everyone is watching the rest of the show’; still for The Idol with co-star Lily-Rose Depp
However, the singer-songwriter has clarified in past interviews that the negative feelings his character arouses in many viewers are completely intentional.
According to the superstar singer, he and co-creator and director Sam Levinson – who has previously faced complaints that he fostered a “toxic workplace” on his other hit HBO series Euphoria – are producing the show exactly as they want it.
“We’re playing with genres with this show, we’re doing exactly what we set out to do,” The Weeknd said. And none of this is a surprise. I’m glad everyone is watching the rest of the show.
The interviewer asked if the tone and pacing of The Idol would change drastically, like in Brian De Palma’s classic thriller movies, including Dressed To Kill and Body Double.
Tesfaye didn’t elaborate on whether they were onto anything, but he did confirm that “Brian De Palma is a huge inspiration for all of this,” while adding that the filmmaker of RoboCop, Basic Instinct and Total Recall, Paul Verhoeven, is also an influence.
He added that he hopes The Idol will give viewers a different perspective on stardom, although the films exposing the less glamorous aspects of the superstar are returning to the silent film era.
“It’s almost educational, that’s what comes with being incredibly famous. You are surrounded by people whose true intentions you do not know, even if they seem good. You never know, he said.
“But of course I’ve been very lucky to have people around me that I’ve known for most of my life, which is important and that’s a gift.”
He added that there’s “nothing worse than a yes-man”, and noted that Depp’s label boss on the show (played by Jane Adams) positively stands out, despite having a negative disposition, because his word means something.
For the future: Tesfaye added that he was influenced by thriller directors Brian De Palms and Paul Verhoeven, suggesting that the tone and pacing of The Idol may change drastically in the future; still from The Idol
Virtually a public service: The Weeknd says his show is “almost educational” and offers a different take on the darker sides of stardom; still from The Idol
Burn out: Elsewhere, he explained that he lost his voice in the first 10 minutes of a September 2022 broadcast because he filmed The Idol for hours the night before; seen on June 10 in Manchester, England
Elsewhere in the interview, Tesfaye explained that a show he had to cancel in September after just a few minutes may have been scuttled by filming for The Idol.
He shared that he spent hours filming the series the day before his performance – the finale of his tour – and that the tension caused him to lose his voice within the first 10 minutes of his performance.
However, he managed to schedule two makeup dates, including another show in Los Angeles and another in Toronto.
The Idol airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET.