The Weeknd Defends Viral 'The Idol' Sex Scene

"He's despicable, a psychopath — why sugarcoat it? But he's somehow useful to this girl, and it's unfortunate and we hate to see it."

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jun 14, 2023

When I described the viral sex scene — if you can call it that — between the Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp on The Idol as "porn-y," my colleague jokingly asked if I'd meant "torture porn-y." And you know what? It kind of was torture to watch. But, according to the artist born Abel Tesfaye, that was all intentional.

Warning! The Idol spoilers ahead! If you have not watched the second episode, turn around. Run while you still can.

After the second episode of the HBO series aired on Sunday (June 11), this one scene between Depp's troubled pop star character, Jocelyn, and Tesfaye's rat-tailed sex cult leader, Tedros, quickly got the internet all shaken up. Again, it's not really a sex scene; it's mostly Tesfaye murmuring cringe-inducing instructions like "Fuckin' stretch that tiny little pussy" to a blindfolded Depp while one of his cult members watches from the walk-in closet with her fingers in her mouth.

It caused such a stir that, while on tour in Copenhagen, Tesfaye found a spare moment to give GQ a call and insist that the scene in the latest episode wasn't supposed to be "sexy."

"There's nothing sexy about it," he explained. "When we use Basic Instinct as a reference, we're using Verhoeven. Verhoeven is the king of '90s satire thriller — yes, there's moments of 'sexy' in his films, but there are other moments that are very cheesy and hilarious."

Tesfaye continued, "How ever you're feeling watching that scene, whether it's discomfort, or you feel gross, or you feel embarrassed for the characters. It's all those emotions adding up to: this guy is in way over his head, this situation is one where he is not supposed to be here."

The artist further addressed a key head-scratcher of The Idol: what does Jocelyn see in this creep named Tedros Tedros? "There's nothing really mysterious or hypnotizing about him. And we did that on purpose with his look, his outfits, his hair — the guy's a douchebag," Tesfaye said of his character. "You can tell he cares so much about what he looks like, and he thinks he looks good. But then you see these weird moments of him alone — he rehearses, he's calculated. And he needs to do that, or he has nothing, he's pathetic."

"He's despicable, a psychopath — why sugarcoat it? But he's somehow useful to this girl," the show's co-creator added, "and it's unfortunate and we hate to see it."

Okay, so he understands that this whole thing is being fuelled by hate-watching. Tesfaye also said he was "just happy that there's conversation" surrounding The Idol. While he apparently went to lengths to distance the character of Tedros from himself, it's clear that they're both just happy to be here.

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