How Britney Spears' 'serious pain' inspired HBO's 'Idol'

HBO's "Idol" centers on Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), a sexy blonde singer determined to reclaim her throne as pop star after a very public breakdown. If the show's description didn't immediately bring to mind Britney Spears, early trailers for the show more explicitly featured the real-life musician's 2007 hit "Gimme More." According to "Idol" co-creator and Tedros star Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye, the similarities between Britney and Jocelyn It's not entirely a coincidence.

"This has nothing to do with Britney at all, but how can we not draw inspiration from Britney, Madonna, every pop star who has gone through severe pain?" he told the audience ahead of the "Idol" series' June 4 premiere. The New York Times explained. "I've always called Lily one of the show's creators because I couldn't write about her until we knew who was going to play Jocelyn. After Lily got the role, she and [co-creator Sam Levinson] "

Depp told E! News on June 1, "There's a lot of inspiration we can draw from people like Britney Spears, who I admire, and all the other incredible pop icons of our time."

Eddie Chen/HBO

At the 2023 Cannes Film Festival premiere of "Idol," Levinson confirmed that Britney's name was mentioned in the first episode, but similarly downplayed the direct comparison to the "Toxic" singer. "We're not trying to tell you a story about any particular pop star," he said. "I think we're just paying more attention to how the world views pop stars and the pressure it puts on individuals."

However, Britney may have a deeper connection to him than he or "The Weeknd" let on. In May 2022, Britney reportedly revealed on Instagram that she met Levinson, the "Save Your Tears" singer and creator of the HBO series "Euphoria." "Today I met with the directors of ' Euphoria ' and 'The Weeknd,'" she wrote on a since-deleted photo reported by Entertainment Tonight . The Weeknd commented with a red heart emoji, while Britney's husband Sam Asghari wrote: "New character in [ Euphoria ]?"

In November 2021, days after a judge terminated her 13-year conservatorship, Britney announced on Instagram that she would be starring in a new movie called Idol . "I just shot a movie called Idol," the singer said in the caption of a photo of the cat posing next to a glass of wine. "It's sure to be a hit and there are lots of bright photos to put on my beautiful family's faces!!!! I hope you guys had a great time because I certainly did!!!!"

Although it's unclear whether she was referring to the HBO series, this isn't the first time Britney has become The Weeknd's muse. During an August 2021 Memento Mori Apple Music 1 radio show, the four-time Grammy winner cited her 2003 In the Zone tracks "Everytime" and "Toxic" as inspiration for his Dawn FM album.