For better or worse, “The Idol” is shaping up to become one of the most talked-about TV shows of the summer when it premieres on HBO next month. The buzzy drama, which hails from creators Sam Levinson and The Weeknd (working under his real name Abel Tesfaye), tells the story of a pop star (Lily-Rose Depp) who falls under the influence of a guru-turned-cult-leader (Tesfaye). The show made headlines for its reportedly troubled production process, but the pedigree of talent involved and its coveted slot at Cannes have ensured that expectations are still high.
If nothing else, many viewers will likely be tuning in out of curiosity about Tesfaye’s abilities. In a new interview with W Magazine, Tesfaye opened up about the process of transitioning from music to acting and the challenge of going back and forth.
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“It was tough to go from one head to another,” Tesfaye said of returning to music after filming. “Then, after the concert, I lost my voice. No voice came out at all. That’s never happened before. My theory is that I forgot how to sing because I was playing Tedros, a character who doesn’t know how to sing. I may be looking too deeply into this, but it was terrifying. As The Weeknd, I’ve never skipped a concert. I’ve performed with the flu. I’ll die on that stage. But there was something very complicated going on with my mind at that moment.”
While Tesfaye was eventually able to get back into a musical headspace and return to performing as The Weeknd, he said that he sees “The Idol” as an opportunity to shed the persona that made him a pop star. While he still wants to pursue a variety of film and music projects in the future, he hopes that the show will allow him to expand his creative horizons beyond being The Weeknd.
“I’m going through a cathartic path right now,” he said. “It’s getting to a place and a time where I’m getting ready to close the Weeknd chapter. I’ll still make music, maybe as Abel, maybe as The Weeknd. But I still want to kill The Weeknd. And I will. Eventually. I’m definitely trying to shed that skin and be reborn.”
“The Idol” is set to screen at the Cannes Film Festival before premiering on HBO on Sunday, June 4.
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