The Weeknd Says He Expected Negative Reaction to 'The Idol'

'The Idol': Critics Slam The Weeknd's HBO Max Series After Screening First 2 Episodes

Controversy surrounding the show and its production first surfaced several months before the first episode's premiere.

Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye said this week he "very much" expected a negative reaction to The Idol. 

Controversy surrounding the show and its production first surfaced several months before the first episode's premiere, when sources told Rolling Stone that the project had gone "wildly, disgustingly off the rails." Most recently, Vulture referred to the third episode as "bizarrely edited" and "hackily written." 

Tesfaye said he expected all of this criticism, but was not fazed by it. 

"It's almost educational, that this is what comes with being incredibly famous," Tesfaye told Variety of his show's treatment of fame. "You're surrounded by people who you're not sure what their true intentions are, even if it seems like they're good. You just never know. But of course, I've been very fortunate to have people around me that I've known almost my entire life, which is important, and is a gift." 

The Idol, currently releasing new episodes on Max, stars Tesfaye as Tedros, a charismatic cult leader/self-help guru who discovers Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), an up-and-coming pop singer, and will stop at nothing to make her famous. It is co-created by Euphoria's Sam Levinson. 

Tesfaye continued this week with a defense of his characters' confusing choices. "Nothing is worse than a yes-man, especially when you have a bunch of yes-men around you," he continued. "And when you see a character like Nikki [Jocelyn’s record-label executive], who's not a yes-man, she might seem like a bad person, but then you kind of like her for being honest. So it's a very complicated situation for Jocelyn." 

The quotes are not the first time Tesfaye has defended his show. Last week, he told GQ viewers are supposed to see Tedros as a bad guy, something that he said comes across on-screen and even in the sex scenes.

"You look at him, and this is a score -- Jocelyn might be the biggest score he's ever had. It's very obvious. He's over-indulging, he walks into this house looking around like, 'Goddamn, am I way over my head? This can be the biggest job I've ever done. Whatever it is that he's doing," he explained. "Even the sex, it's so gluttonous. Especially in episode 2. 'Gluttony' is the only word I can think of [to describe it]. He can't believe he’s there. He comes off like such a loser. Those moments are the humanity that you find in a psychopath, the chink in his armor."

Previously, Tesfaye told Vanity Fair he thought the Rolling Stone article "was ridiculous," adding, "I wanted to give a ridiculous response to it."

At the time the allegations were first published, the musician responded by sharing a clip from the show in which his character deems Rolling Stone "irrelevant."

Both Depp and their co-star, Hank Azaria have also defended the HBO drama, with Azaria most recently telling the Today show, "every care was taken" when it came to the nude scenes featured in the series. 

Depp has also praised the show and Levinson's creativity, telling ET, "Sam is, for so many reasons, 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. Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way - it matters to him, more than anything, not only what his 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."