Sam Levinson, Lily-Rose Depp and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye at the "The Idol" Screening & Red Carpet at the 76th Cannes Film Festival held at the Palais des Festivals on May 22, 2023 in Cannes, France.

The plot details of ‘The Idol’ are as wild as everyone expected, and even more

After months of speculation and rumors of on-set malfunctions, Sam Levinson and Abel Tesfaye’s long-awaited HBO series “The Idol” made its triumphant Cannes premiere on Monday night. The first two installments of the music industry drama debuted in a special screening that was essentially the length of a feature film.

The first two episodes didn’t try to avoid controversy, with many attendees commenting on the shocking amount of sexual content. The first episode opens with Lily Rose-Depp’s character doing a semi-naked photo shoot as her agent (played by Jane Adams) tells a viewer that “Mental health is sexy … stop trying to block America”.

The first episode focuses primarily on Depp’s Jocelyn, a world-famous pop star struggling with mourning the death of her mother. She’s seen dealing with extreme behaviors like masturbating while she chokes, before turning to Tedros of Tesfaye, a sleazy self-help guru who begins to infiltrate her life.

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At one point Tedros smothers her with her own dress in an attempt to spark creative inspiration in her — she’s actually inspired to remix her new single. In an exchange that will soon go viral, Jocelyn’s assistant (Rachel Sennott) says “he’s so abusive” after being regaled with a story about Tedros’ behavior. Jocelyn replies, “I like that about him.”

There’s even a plot point involving a photo of Jocelyn with sperm on her face leaking online.

Hari Nef plays a Vanity Fair reporter. And Hank Azaria adopts an Israeli accent to play Chaim, a member of Jocelyn’s team.

While online reactions were divided, the crowd in the room had an overwhelmingly positive response to the provocative premiere. The crowd cheered at the end of the screening and started clapping for Tesfaye’s new song which played over the end credits. Levinson was visibly moved by the response and took the stage to deliver a tearful speech when the applause died down.

“I’m incredibly proud of the show and the way we made it. And I’m proud of this cast,” Levinson said. “I feel like I’ve gained a family. I know it’s a bit cult, but that’s how I feel. I love you guys.”

He had particular praise for Depp, saying that he and Tesfaye are “thanking our lucky stars every day” that the actress is on the show. He also expressed gratitude to HBO head Casey Bloys and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav before thanking his wife for accepting the idea for “The Idol” so soon after giving birth to their son.

“One last thing,” he said. “My wife, my production partner Ashley Levinson, we had our second child on a Sunday and Abel called on Monday. I know it wasn’t easy.

Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.