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HBO's The Idol - What We Know So Far

The Weeknd has a reputation as a dedicated performer, particularly when it comes to the personas he inhabits. While promoting his 2020 album "After Hours," the singer often sported a bloody face with a nose bandage and hysterically gleeful face reminiscent of his appearance in the music video for his song "Blinding Lights." It's a summation of his chaotic attempts to make light of a rapidly changing world in the aftermath of a breakup.

The "After Hours" character evolved in November 2020, appearing at the American Music Awards with bandages covering his entire face. By the time he debuted his "Save Your Tears" music video in January 2021, he wore prosthetics that depicted extreme plastic surgery.

After all this showmanship in his music, it's unsurprising that The Weeknd is a dedicated cinephile. As he told Vman in 2016, "Before I ever thought of making music, I wanted to make films." Now, The Weeknd is delving into fiction with his new HBO series, "The Idol," which will follow a female pop star who gets involved with a club owner — and secret cult member. Here's what we know about the show so far.

When is the release date of The Idol?

A rough release date for "The Idol" has not been announced yet. The series was announced in late June 2021 as a collaboration between the cable platform HBO and The Weeknd, who will be a star, co-writer, and executive producer, via Deadline. The Weeknd's producing partner Reza Fahim, manager Wassim "SAL" Slaiby, and creative director La Mar C. Taylor will also serve as producers. Joseph Epstein will be the showrunner and co-writer of "The Idol," with Mary Laws as a co-executive producer and writer. 

The Weeknd, Fahim, and "Euphoria" showrunner Sam Levinson are all co-creators of "The Idol." Levinson is currently in the midst of production on "Euphoria" Season 2, which could begin airing on HBO as early as late 2021. Perhaps if the show wraps sometime later this year, the "The Idol" pilot could be cast and filmed in early to mid-2022, and released in late 2022 or early 2023.

Who is in the cast of The Idol?

So far, the only actor attached to the project is The Weeknd (aka Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) himself, whose exact role hasn't been announced yet. While this will be the star's first major role, he's no stranger to the worlds of film and TV. He previously wrote and starred in a 2020 episode of the TBS comedy "American Dad!," and also voiced multiple characters in a 2020 episode of the animated comedy "Robot Chicken." As a film actor, he played himself in the 2019 Adam Sandler vehicle "Uncut Gems," and co-director Josh Safdie referred to him as "a real cinephile" who has "a desire for the silver screen," per Variety.

Co-director Benny Safdie added, "He was very specific about the kind of character he wanted to play. Because he said he was a relentless punk in 2012. So we were like, 'Oh, okay, we'll write that into the movie.'"

Other "The Idol" cast members will be announced at a later date.

What is the plot of The Idol?

According to Deadline, "the series follows a female pop singer who starts a romance with an enigmatic L.A. club owner who is the leader of a secret cult."

While further plot details are still being developed, fans can look toward the singer and his collaborators' past work for clues. The Weeknd is a well-known cinephile, peppering references to films like the Ridley Scott sci-fi film "Blade Runner" (via Nerdist) and David Lynch's mystery thriller "Blue Velvet," per MovieFone. In the past, he's referenced filmmakers like David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese, and Stanley Kubrick as inspirations for his musical career and aesthetic.

With these inspirations in mind (as well as Levinson's involvement and Fahim's past as a nightclub entrepreneur), it sounds like "The Idol" will draw from mysteries and neo-noir thrillers to create a show that taps into The Weeknd's signature flair for character acting and intoxicating, surrealist aesthetic.