The Weeknd Will Star in an HBO Scripted Series, The Idol

The singer is also the co-creator of the series, which follows a club owner who leads a secret cult.

Words by Erica Gonzales and Quinci Legardye

The Weeknd’s visuals and music videos have always been somewhat of a cinematic experience, especially during his conceptual After Hours era. Now, he’s taking his onscreen storytelling to the next level.

The musician, born Abel Tesfaye, is developing, co-writing, and starring in The Idol, a series for HBO. Created with Euphoria helmer Sam Levinson and Tesfaye’s creative producer, Reza Fahim, the drama will follow a female pop singer who “starts a romance with an enigmatic L.A. club owner who is the leader of a secret cult,” according to the log line. Consider us intrigued.

HBO just announced that it has green-lit the show for a six-episode season, to be filmed in and around L.A. “When the multi-talented Abel ‘The Weeknd’ Tesfaye, Reza Fahim and Sam Levinson brought us The Idol, it was clear their subversive, revelatory take on the cult of the music industry was unlike anything HBO had ever done before,” Francesca Orsi, executive vice president of HBO drama programming, said in a statement.

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Here’s what we know about the series so far.

The Idol follows a young star who falls for a mysterious cult leader.

Tesfaye revealed an exclusive first look at the upcoming show during New Jersey stop on his “After Hours Til Dawn” tour. The clip (seen below) teases the story from the “twisted minds” of Levinson and Tesfaye, following a pop star (played by Lily-Rose Depp) who gets sucked into an Tesfaye’s character’s orbit.

During a montage of parties, rehearsals, and studio sessions, we get a peek into the young star’s psyche, as she says that “nothing about her is relatable.” Later, when asked if she trusts the cult leader, her answer is, “Not really.”

HBO has yet to announce a premiere date for the six-episode season.

The Weeknd also shared a closer look at himself in character for the series following the teaser trailer’s release.

The cast includes The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, and Troye Sivan.

The Idol has tapped a roster of rising actors and a real-life musician for the series. Along with Tesfaye, Depp (The King) will play an up-and-coming pop idol who gets ensnared in a “complicated relationship” with the cult leader. Singer-songwriter Troye Sivan will also join as a series regular.

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A new teaser (seen above) reveals the rest of the truly stacked cast, which includes Suzanna Son (Red Rocket), singer Moses Sumney, Jane Adams (Hacks), Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), Eli Roth (Inglorious Basterds), Rachel Sennot (Bodies Bodies Bodies), Hari Nef (Transparent), Da’Vine Joy Randolph (High Fidelity), star producer Mike Dean, Ramsey, Hank Azaria, and BLACKPINK member Jennie, going by Jennie Ruby Jane.

The series has a heavy-hitter production team.

Some of the producers involved in the series include Ashley Levinson (Malcolm & MarieBombshell), Kevin Turen (Those Who Wish Me Dead), Aaron L. Gilbert (Joker), and Reza Fahim (The Weeknd’s producing partner and co-creator of the series). Co-executive producers are Wassim “SAL” Slaiby, La Mar C. Taylor (Tesfaye’s creative director and XO Records cofounder), and Mary Laws (Succession), who’s also writing.

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Tesfaye isn’t exactly a stranger to the big screen. He appeared in the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems in 2019 as a 2012 version of himself. As for TV, he wrote and guest-starred in an episode of American Dad in 2020.

The Idol news arrives after a big year for Tesfaye, who headlined at the 2021 Super Bowl Halftime Show, broke records on the Billboard charts, and famously called out the Grammy Awards for “corruption” after he and other artists were snubbed from the latest ceremony. Last March, he announced he will no longer submit his music for Grammys consideration. With his new show in the works, might he be gunning for an Emmy instead?


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