After episode two of the musician’s new HBO show (available in the UK on Sky and NOW), which he created alongside Sam Levinson and Reza Fahim, aired on Sunday (11 June), fans have accused The Weeknd’s character (Tedros) of exhibiting an exploitative and misogynist attitude towards women.
One particular scene in episode two left viewers cringing. It shows a fully-clothed Tedros ordering a blindfolded Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) to fulfil his sexual fantasies. At one stage, he instructs her to ”f***in’ stretch that tiny, little p***y”. Viewers condemned the scene on social media, branding it “nasty”.
In a new interview with GQ, The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, has spoken about the controversial scene and revealed details about his character Tedros.
“There’s nothing sexy about it,” he said. “However 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 sex, it’s so gluttonous,” the “Binding Lights” singer added. “Especially in Episode two. ‘Gluttony’ is the only word I can think of [to describe it].
“[Tedros] 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.”
In the series, Tedros is a self-help guru and cult leader with a dark and enigmatic past. Jocelyn, meanwhile, is an aspiring pop idol.
Speaking of his character, The Weeknd said: “You look at [Tedros], 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.’
“He’s despicable, a psychopath – why sugar coat it? There’s nothing really mysterious or hypnotising about him. And we did that on purpose with his look, his outfits, his hair – the guy’s a douchebag.”
He went on to add that his character “cares so much about what he looks like” and “thinks he looks good”.
“But then you see these weird moments of him alone – he rehearses, he’s calculated,” he added. “And he needs to do that, or he has nothing, he’s pathetic. Which is true of a lot of people who are a fish out of water, put into these scenarios.”
Earlier this month, Depp spoke with Entertainment Weekly about how she and The Weeknd prepared for their roles.
Depp admitted she would sometimes “steer clear” of her co-star on the set of The Idol.
“I don’t think anybody went full method – nobody lost their minds,” the 24-year-old actor and model said.
“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,” she admitted.
“I’d be like, ‘He’s in his zone right now.’”
The Idol is available to watch in the UK on Sky and NOW.
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