The Weeknd Dismisses Scathing Rolling Stone Piece About ‘The Idol’ as ‘Ridiculous’

“I’m not playing myself,” says the singer and actor of his role as a sinister music mentor in the upcoming HBO series

The Weeknd
The Weeknd (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

The Weeknd dismissed the March Rolling Stone article about the “chaos” on the set of his upcoming HBO series “The Idol” as “ridiculous” in a Vanity Fair interview published Tuesday.

“I thought the article was ridiculous,” says the singer and actor, who now goes by his given name, Abel Tesfaye. He said he resented the magazine’s implication that “these are rapists trying to make a rape fantasy.”

The Rolling Stone article relied on anonymous sources who described the Sam Levinson-directed series as  “sexual torture porn,” and as “any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show.”

Vanity Fair’s Dan Adler has seen the first episode of the series which features Jocelyn, the singer played by Lily-Rose Depp, responding to a comment by her assistant Leia (Rachel Sennott) that Tedros (Tesfaye) is “so rape-y,” with, “Yeah, I kind of like that about him.” Leia then says, “Joc, no, gross. So disturbing.”

Tesfaye told Vanity Fair that he has more in common with Depp’s character than his own: “Tedros is that superego that we as men wanna stay away from as much as possible. That’s inside of us and we just gotta kill that.”

He added, “There were things in that description that have nothing to do with my persona at all. I don’t do anything. I’m at home with my dog and my close friends and my family. I get myself out of trouble as much as I can. I try not to stay at the party too long, I’m not that guy…. I’m not playing myself [in ‘The Idol’]. But those characters can live in The Weeknd’s universe.”

He insisted that the show, which went through extensive reshoots after the exit of original director Amy Seimetz, is still centered around Depp’s character. “I actually really loved working with Amy,” Tesfaye said, “and I’m sure she’s reading all this being like, ‘Why am I being thrown into this?’”

He said that Seimetz’s departure was not due to a conflicting vision, but to conflicting schedules, and noted “shows get reshot every day.”

Depp, who Tesfaye describes as “the show’s third creator,” told Vanity Fair, “I think it’s interesting that people have so much to say about the show already and they haven’t even seen it.”

“The Idol” will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, which runs May 16-27 and debut on HBO in June.