There have been rumors of creative differences and claimed poisonous atmosphere on the set of HBO’s new series The Idol, and now actors Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and Lily-Rose Depp have spoken out.
HBO sent a statement to PEOPLE in which they refuted the latest allegations made in a Rolling Stone article and expressed their enthusiasm for the show’s new creative direction.
That “The Idol” is “one of HBO’s most fascinating and controversial original series” is a direct result of the tireless efforts of the show’s creators and producers. We decided to make a modification since the show’s original concept and the quality of the first few episodes simply couldn’t measure up to HBO’s expectations.
In continuation of the statement, “The creative team has been dedicated to making the set a welcoming place for all members of the cast and crew to work together productively and with mutual respect throughout the entire process, and they implemented some changes to the script last year that they believed would be beneficial to everyone involved. Soon we will be able to introduce The Idol to the public.”
In April, creator Sam Levinson stepped in as director, completely revamping the film’s vision as a drama about the music industry, which centers on a rising pop artist (Depp) who falls in love with a self-help guru and nightclub owner (The Weeknd).
The 38-year-old Levinson is well-known for his boundary-pushing creative works, such as the Emmy Award-winning TV series Euphoria on HBO.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Depp, now 23, complimented Levinson’s series revival and collaborative spirit.”Sam is the best director I’ve ever worked with for so many reasons,” she stated. I’ve never been in an environment where my ideas and feedback were so welcome and encouraged.
“Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every sense — it matters to him, more than anything, not only what his actors think about the work, but how we feel performing it,” she concluded. He employs people whose work he values, and he has always made me feel like I belonged there.
The Weeknd, 33, posted a never-before-seen clip from The Idol on Instagram with the caption, “@rollingstone did we upset you? “, alluding to the rumored drama.
In the clip, both Johnny Depp and The Weeknd’s characters are disappointed when their manager (Dan Levy) advises the pop star to appear on the cover of Rolling Stone.
A source familiar with the production has told PEOPLE that the video was shot sometime last year, despite The Weeknd’s veiled dig, and that neither the public nor Rolling Stone had seen it before Wednesday’s publication.
Unnamed cast and crew personnel spoke out to Rolling Stone earlier on Wednesday about the purported dramatic story alterations that occurred when Levinson replaced Amy Seimetz as director.
According to one member of the cast and crew, Levinson envisioned a scenario where the female character is subjected to rape but then returns for more because she believes it improves her music.
It was reported that the new drafts had “disturbing sexual and physically violent moments between Depp and Tesfaye’s characters.”
The production was impacted not only by the script modifications but also by delays and reshoots. According to the story, Levinson discarded the $54-75 million show and reshot it.
Representatives for Levinson have been contacted by PEOPLE.
With only six episodes planned, HBO announced in April that they were scrapping the whole run of The Idol.
The Idol’s creative team “continues to construct, refine, and evolve their vision for the program and they have unified on a new creative direction,” an HBO representative confirmed to Deadline.
The spokesman went on to say that “the production would be altering its cast and crew accordingly” to accommodate the show’s new direction. Soon, we will be able to provide additional details.