The Weeknd has always been a provocateur. Whether he’s headlining the Super Bowl LV Halftime Show in bloodied-up gauze or crooning about cocaine at the 2016 Kid’s Choice Awards, Abel Tesfaye is no stranger to the dark underbelly of LA. In the third trailer for his HBO Max series, The Idol, premiering in 2023, The Weeknd shines a light on the glamour and intoxication of showbiz, reintroducing the modern rockstar’s trifecta: sex, money, and drugs.
Created alongside nightlife entrepreneur Reza Fahim and Euphoria’s Sam Levinson, the Weeknd has created “the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood.” After serenading his listeners with the Beauty Behind the Madness, Tesfaye is starring alongside Lily-Rose Depp, portraying a nihilistic master of the industry, guiding a young pop star towards her dreams of stardom.
With Tesfaye as the self-help guru and Depp as a struggling dancer wanting to make it big, the latest trailer for The Idol hints at the price of fame, from dealings with paparazzi to toxic hedonism to plain violence. After years of performing his lyrics onstage, the Weeknd has finally found his calling as an auteur, ready to translate his musical worldview to the screen.
Abel’s been secretively working on The Idol since 2021, and following the official announcement in 2021, he’s ready to step away from his onstage persona. The Weeknd has been on the run of his life.
In 2020, his single “Blinding Lights” topped the Billboard Top 100 for four weeks, spending the most weeks of any song in history in both the Top 5 and the Top 5; After Hours later became the Top R&B album of 2020; and his latest project, DAWN FM, had 24 songs from the Toronto artist make Billboard’s Global 200 chart, the most of any solo male artist. It’s safe to say that if anyone is qualified to make a show about fame (and its pitfalls), the Weeknd is the obvious choice.