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The Weeknd defends heavily criticised ‘The Idol’ sex scene – it’s not meant to be ‘sexy’

Abel Tesfaye thinks some viewers have got the wrong end of the stick about the viral ‘The Idol’ scene

By Charlotte Krol

Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfay in ‘The Idol’ sex scene
Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye in episode two of ‘The Idol’. (Picture: HBO)

The Weeknd has defended a viral sex scene in episode two of The Idol, insisting that it’s not meant to be sexy and is instead a reflection of his “loser” character, Tedros.

The musician and actor, real name Abel Tesfaye, said in a new interview that the scene – dubbed by GQ as “the worse sex scene in history” for its “unrefined adolescent horniness” – is supposed to be a turn off.

Hopping on a call to GQ for a quick interview while on tour in Copenhagen, The Weeknd clarified that the scene isn’t supposed to be sexy, suggesting that some viewers have misunderstood the intention.

In the scene Tedros engages in sex play with aspiring pop idol Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a scene that has been criticised for featuring “cringe” explicit language.

“The sex, it’s so gluttonous,” The Weeknd told GQ with a laugh. “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 armour.”

He continued: “There’s nothing sexy about it. When we use Basic Instinct as a reference, we’re using [the film’s director] Verhoeven. Verhoeven is the king of 1990s satire thriller — yes, there’s moments of ‘sexy’ in his films, but there are other moments that are very cheesy and hilarious.

“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 Idol, which follows Jocelyn’s attempts to claim her status as the greatest and sexiest pop star in the US under the guidance of self-help guru Tedros, premiered on HBO and Max earlier this month.

HBO confirmed that viewing for episode one (3.6 million) outpaced the series premieres for both The White Lotus (3 million in 2021) and Euphoria (3.3 million in 2019) in the same time period.

The Weeknd also pressed to GQ that he is nothing like the Tedros character: “I wanted to make sure he looked nothing like me, acted nothing like me, just a totally different person.”

Tesfaye added that the HBO show has “definitely shaken up the culture for sure” and that he’s “just happy that there’s conversation”.

Meanwhile, The Weeknd has reached a settlement in his copyright lawsuit over ‘Call Out My Name’.