Although the new series does tell the story of a pop star attempting to make a comeback and gives several nods to the 41-year-old “Hold Me Closer” singer, Levinson claims he is not trying to tell her story in the new series, which stars Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd.
Sam Levinson Says HBO’s ‘The Idol’ Is Not Inspired By Britney Spears
At a Cannes press conference (via Deadline), the “Euphoria” creator said that, although there are multiple nods to the pop star and her career in the series, that he is “not trying to tell a story about any particular pop star.”
“It’s a lot of pressure — to have to constantly be on, and to be what everyone wishes you to be,” he said of the character, adding, “It’s a lonely life.”
“We can all pretend that everyone is looking out for someone’s best interest, but I think fame really corrupts, it’s really easy to surround yourself with myth makers who continue to prop us up,” he added.
What Is ‘The Idol’ About?
“The Idol” stars Lily-Rose Depp as a pop star named Jocelyn who made a major career breakthrough and became an international success. However, the fame soon becomes too overwhelming for her to deal with, and she ultimately suffers a nervous breakdown that completely derails her tour.
Determined to make a career comeback, she meets Abel Tesfaye (better known as The Weeknd) and his character Tedros. The nightclub manager and producer has a sordid past unbeknownst to Jocelyn.
In the middle of an intense hook-up, her album suddenly gets a remix when her panting makes it onto the recording. Fans have immediately made parallels to that scene and Britney’s hit single, “Gimme More.”
Putting that aside, Jocelyn’s team and manager, played by Hank Azaria, are extremely suspicious of Tedros and what they believe to be his nefarious intentions.
Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd Reveal The Influences Behind Their ‘The Idol’ Characters
Sam Levinson went on to say that the Britney reference in the series was an example of how a pop star can put a spin on what first appears to be a bad situation.
Lily-Rose Depp also said that they are “not telling anyone else’s story” and revealed that her character was actually influenced by Sharon Stone after “Basic Instinct” and Jeanne Moreau.
“I think something we wanted to do is make her feel simultaneously like a pop star of our time, but one that is in her own plane,” Depp added.
The Weeknd also shared his thoughts on the concept for the series, saying, “We initially wanted to make a dark, twisted fairy tale with the music industry and everything I know about it and heighten it, and take inspirations from films that both me and Sam love — it was really our love for music.”
“When I found out how much Sam is involved in the music in Euphoria and getting to work with him on the music on the show, that’s when it unlocked it for us,” he continued. “Can we create our own popstar? Can we create somebody who is trying to find themselves, using my experiences, using his experiences, using Lily’s experiences on creating something special, daring and exciting and fun that will make people laugh, p— some people off.”
Britney Spears met with The Weeknd and ‘Euphoria’ creator Sam Levinson today. pic.twitter.com/VAneW5bZHn
— Pop Base (@PopBase) May 25, 2022
The Weeknd said he didn’t know anyone in real life to base his character on, and instead named Dracula as the inspiration behind the character.
Instead of Britney Spears, Sam Levinson revealed that The Weeknd’s own career was a major inspiration for the series.
“If he can do this, if he can go from being this shy kid behind a microphone to this superstar onstage — He has something in him that’s one in 100 billion,” Levinson said. “There’s something about that drive, that ambition to win people over, to get them to stop thinking about all the s— of life, the trials, the tribulations, the work; and to give themselves over to the music.”
“Right there is when it clicked for me as to what this show is about,” he added. “It’s about the ambition and the drive to be a better artist.”