After months of whispers about just how raunchy The Idol is, HBO’s highly-anticipated drama premiered on Monday night at the Cannes Film Festival. The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp and director Sam Levinson proudly debuted the show that was dubbed “torture porn” in a Rolling Stone, a claim the actors have denied. The press finally got to watch the first two episodes of the scandalous series and early reviews honed in on similar themes, particularly regarding Depp’s nudity.
“The Weeknd and Sam Levinson’s The Idol, Starring Lily-Rose Depp, Plays Like a Sordid Male Fantasy,” read Variety‘s headline. “Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd in an HBO Series That’s More Regressive Than Transgressive,” said The Hollywood Reporter. The Idol’s Jane Adams dismissed early criticism while promoting the show on Tuesday.
“Blah, blah, blah,” the veteran actress quipped to Yahoo Entertainment.
When asked how she felt nudity was approached on set and in the script, Adams replied: “I would say… with Lily-Rose, like why would nudity be a bad thing? What are people talking about? I don’t understand. I don’t even believe that mindset is real. That whole mindset seems fake to me, this outrage and pearl clutching that’s going on about a nude actress who’s beautiful. When did that become outrageous?”
Adams added, “When I was young, I wish I had done more of it. I did films where I’m running around half naked. I don’t care. I don’t understand, you know? It’s film, for God’s sakes.”
Depp plays pop star Jocelyn who is determined to get her career back on track following a nervous breakdown. She gets mixed up with Tedros, portrayed by co-creator Abel “the Weeknd” Tesfaye, a charming nightclub owner who also leads a NXIVM-like cult. Adams has a big supporting role as Nikki, a cutthroat record label executive that works with Jocelyn. In the first two episodes, many of Adams’s scenes are with Depp, whom the Tony-award winner called a “genius.”
“She’s one of the best actresses I’ve ever worked with,” Adams stated, calling Johnny Depp’s daughter “quite a force of nature” who can “do anything.” (Nearly all early reviews agreed Depp, 23, is fantastic.)
Although Depp has not done a lot of press for The Idol, she’s issued statements refuting the narrative that Levinson created a chaotic set, with last-minute script rewrites that featured gratuitous nudity. Adams said her experience working Levinson, who faced similar allegations on his hit show Euphoria, was not what was depicted in the March Rolling Stone exposé.
“It [was] a wonderful working experience,” Adams declared, calling Levinson “one of the funniest, smartest” directors she’s worked with.
“I love working with Sam. Sam, you know, is a visionary genius film director. This is a beautiful film he’s made, it just happens to be chopped up into different episodes,” she explained. “It’s thrilling working with Sam because you just don’t know what to expect in the best sense. It’s not boring. It’s not safe… it is the opposite of snoozy… For someone like me that likes kind of like an adrenaline rush it that there’s plenty of those to be had.”
Tesfaye recently called Hollywood “a dark place, which makes for great art” and The Idol certainly touches on that — particularly highlighting the ruthless music industry that exploits young, female artists. Adams told Yahoo the show isn’t just about the dark side of Hollywood.
“I think it’s just the dark side of human beings. And I don’t know what is going on in society today, but there’s all these people pretending they don’t have a dark side. I find that more frightening than anything in The Idol,” she added. “This whole pretending that everybody is Goody Two-shoes is terrifying.”
Adams said the energy at Monday’s gala was “great” and called watching the first two episodes with an audience “a thrill.”
“If I wasn’t in the show and I saw what I saw last night, I would call a friend and say, ‘Oh my God, you have to see The Idol. Lily-Rose Depp is incredible. Her chemistry with Able Tesfaye is insanely great and Sam Levinson’s a genius. It’s gorgeous to watch.”
Viewers can finally judge for themselves when The Idol premieres on Sunday, June 4 at 9 p.m. on HBO. It will also be available to stream on Max.