Lily Rose Depp And The Weeknd Clap Back At Controversy Over Sam Levinson’s Series The Idol

Lily-Rose Depp, The Weeknd, The Idol Controversy

By now, if you haven’t stumbled across The Idol controversy, I envy you. Yes, you probably live without strong wifi connection, but after being bombarded with TikTok after TikTok on this spicy little story, the three functioning braincells that I have left after the first WorldPride weekend are all busy digesting what the fuck is going on.

To fill you all in, Euphoria creator Sam Levinson’s latest series, The Idol, is creating a lot of buzz right now, and not just because of its star-studded cast.

The delayed HBO drama, which was written by Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, his producing partner Reza Fahim and Levinson, is the subject of some explosive claims from insider sources alleging that extensive production troubles and controversial creative decisions have completely derailed the series. 

The Idol follows a beautiful yet damaged pop star named Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) as she makes a name for herself in the music industry. But when she becomes captivated by Tedros (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye), an enigmatic nightclub owner and secret cult leader (think Scientology and NXIVM vibes), her world goes batshit crazy. 

Starring alongside Depp and The Weeknd are Dan Levy, Eli Roth, Troye Sivan and Blackpink’s Jennie, just to name a few. So naturally, the anticipation for the show has been bubbling along since it was first announced in November 2021.

But here’s where it starts to get dicey.

In a lengthy report by Rolling Stone, 13 sources involved in production have claimed that the series has gone completely off the rails, turning into the antithesis of what it was originally envisioned to be.

Lily-Rose Depp as Jocelyn in The Idols


When the series went into development in June 2021, it was set to be directed by The Girlfriend Experience director Amy Seimetz.

Her vision was to portray the series through a feminist lens, positioning Jocelyn as another victim of predatory behaviour within the entertainment industry who eventually reclaims her own agency. 

But after numerous production issues, including unfinished scrips and constant reshoots, Seimetz left the project in April 2021. She was replaced by Levinson, resulting in a complete overhaul in the direction of the series.

When production resumed in May 2022, sources claimed that Seimetz’s series was completely scrapped, despite HBO spending approximately $75 million on the initial project.

With The Weeknd’s support, Levinson’s new vision was embraced, the feminist nature of the project reportedly went out the window. 

“It was a show about a woman who was finding herself sexually, turned into a show about a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it,” an anonymous production member told Rolling Stone

“What I signed up for was a dark satire of fame and the fame model in the 21st century…It went from satire to the thing it was satirising.”

The Weeknd, The Idol
The Weeknd flexing his acting muscles, I guess. Credit: Instagram / The Idols @theidols 

Sources claimed that Levinson’s new scripts involved incredibly graphic scenes and sexual violence between Jocelyn and Tedros, with one source describing it as “sexual torture porn.”

“It was like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show – and then the woman comes back for more because it makes her music better,” a production member commented.

This is not the first time Levinson has been in the hot seat for his ethically questionable creative choices, with Euphoria stars Minka Kelly, Martha Kelly and Sydney Sweeney expressing their discomfort with excessive nude scenes written into the script.

Plus, there were claims that he created a toxic work environment on the set of Euphoria

Sam Levinson The Idols
Credit: Getty Images / Jeff Kravitz 


While Levinson is yet to comment on the developing drama, The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp have weighed in on Rolling Stone’s damning report.

Taking to Instagram, The Weeknd posted a clip from the upcoming series where his character says “Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little irrelevant?”

And look, you’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty good clap back. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Weeknd (@theweeknd)

Depp has also spoken out in support of Levinson’s creative direction, calling him the “best director I have ever worked with.”

“Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued,” she said to Vanity Fair.

“Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way—it matters to him, more than anything, not only what actors think about the work, but how we feel performing it. He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.”

Meanwhile, HBO has also made a statement to Vanity Fair, denying the allegations that the project was toxic.

“The creators and producers of The Idol have been working hard to create one of HBO’s most exciting and provocative original programs. 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. We look forward to sharing The Idol with audiences soon.”


A journalist who works as the contributing editor for NYLON France claimed Lily-Rose Depp is avoiding the promo stage of her job to avoid questions about being a nepo baby, her father Johnny Depp and her new relationship with female rapper 070 Shake.

Apparently, Lily-Rose Depp doesn’t like being called a nepo baby, but we already knew this from previous comments she’s made about how much she hates that title.

“She wants a career but not any of the backlash that can come from opening her mouth,” wrote one commenter on Tumblr.

“She wants all the privileges of being a nepo baby but none of the downsides.

“This is what happens when you live in a bubble where everyone tells you how amazing you are and you are never actually challenged or have to deal with the difficulties of real life.”

While it is an immense privilege to just skip out on doing promotion for a show you probably got because of who you are, I can see why she’d want to skip the press.

Lily-Rose Depp would undoubtedly be swarmed with questions about what she thinks about her father, her sexuality, claims made against Sam Levinson and other things that have nothing to do with her and her work. In this case, it probably is best for her to opt out of all the journalistic chaos.


Originally, The Idol was due to be released in November 2022, with the first teaser trailer released in July 2022. But with so many rewrites and reshoots, HBO is yet to confirm when we can expect the controversial series to hit our screens, simply stating that we can expect it “later this year.”