"The Idol" stars Lily-Rose Depp as a tormented pop star who is easily lured into a trap laid by a sinister nightclub owner named Tedros (Abel "the Weeknd" Tesfaye). But behind the scenes of the TV series, Depp knew better than to get too close to Tesfaye when he was in "full Tedros mode."
"I don't think anybody went full method — nobody lost their minds," Depp recently told Entertainment Weekly.
"Well, sometimes when Abel would get — I don't want to reveal too much about where Abel's character goes, but when he would be in full Tedros mode sometimes, I would steer clear of him. I'd be like, 'He's in his zone right now.'"
The scandal-ridden HBO drama finally debuted on Sunday after months of anticipation and lore surrounding its allegedly rocky production process and problematic themes. The series has been billed as a follow-up to HBO's "Euphoria" — the gritty teen drama created by Sam Levinson, who co-created "The Idol" with Tesfaye and Reza Fahim.
In March, Rolling Stone reported that "The Idol" was beset with constant filming delays, reshoots, rewrites and other setbacks — including the abrupt departure of original series director Amy Seimetz, who was replaced by Levinson after Tesfaye allegedly felt that the show was leaning too hard into a "female perspective."
According to Depp, however, "the vibe on set was quite lighthearted" for a show that "does ... explore darker themes and has some pretty heavy emotional moments."
"We're all really good friends and we all are similar people and really understand each other," the 24-year-old actor, who's Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis' daughter, told EW.
"We were having a lot of laughs, listening to a lot of music, dancing around, and that kind of energy is what made the heavier moments easier and possible, because whenever you knew that there was a bigger, emotional scene coming up, you felt like you were surrounded by people that you feel comfortable with, people that have your back, and you feel that in the show."
Depp was among multiple "Idol" cast members who brushed off the Rolling Stone exposé, which quoted sources likening the series to "torture porn" and a "rape fantasy." After the article came out, Depp said in a statement that she found it "interesting that people have so much to say about the show already, and they haven't even seen it."
Tesfaye also responded to the controversy by sharing a clip from "The Idol," in which the characters mock the legacy music publication, and writing, "Rolling Stone, did we upset you?"
Last month, the series premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where Levinson didn't seem at all deterred by the negative press coverage. The show received a five-minute standing ovation at the event and dreadful reviews — amounting to a 25% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
"When my wife read me the article, I looked at her and said, 'I think we're about to have the biggest show of the summer,'" Levinson told reporters at the festival.
"We know we're making a show that's provocative. ... What was in [the article] felt completely foreign to me, but I know who I am. There's two jobs in this business, there's the work and there's the managing of the persona, and managing the persona is not interesting to me because it takes away time and energy from the work."