On the heels of Harry Styles’ highly publicized pivot to acting and Taylor Swift’s already-infamous cameo in David O. Russell’s latest flop “Amsterdam,” another major pop star is throwing their hat in the acting ring. Abel Tesfaye, better known to his fans as The Weeknd, broke into the music scene in the early 2010s with a distinctive persona built around moody, atmospheric soul and R&B. Now, he’s translated his signature aesthetic into an upcoming HBO drama called “The Idol,” which Tesfaye co-created and in which he’ll play a key role.
According to press materials, the series is “set against the backdrop of the music industry” and “centers on a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming pop idol.” That Trilby-like premise may sound familiar to anyone who’s listened to Tesfaye’s music, which frequently contains mysterious warnings to prospective lovers about the singer’s dark and promiscuous nature.
Tesfaye will portray the cult leader, of course, with Lily-Rose Depp starring as the young pop star who gets caught in his web. The supporting cast, meanwhile, is stuffed with an array of cult favorites from the world of music and film, including director Eli Roth, Dan Levy of “Schitt’s Creek” fame, alt-comedian Rachel Sennott, music producer Mike Dean, and South Korean singer/rapper Jennie Ruby Jane (a.k.a. Jennie Kim).
The series was co-created with Tesfaye’s producing partner Reza Fahim and “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson, in the midst of a banner year having also co-written Adrian Lyne’s “Deep Water” and co-executive produced Ti West’s “X” and “Pearl.” Levinson has also signed on to direct, and the trailer reveals more than a few parallels with the lurid tone and neon-drenched color palette of “Euphoria.”
“The Idol” debuts on HBO on June 4. Until then, you can watch the trailer below: