"We can all pretend that everyone is looking out for someone's best interests, but I think fame really corrupts," Euphoria creator Sam Levinson said of the new TV drama at Cannes.
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Let's hear it for pop stars honoring the struggles of other pop stars.

In attendance at a Cannes Film Festival press conference on Tuesday, the team behind recording artist The Weeknd's new HBO series The Idol discussed the significance of a reference to Britney Spears in the upcoming pilot episode, which follows Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) as a singer attempting to recover from a nervous breakdown.

"Look, I was a kid of the '90s, and she's one of the greatest pop stars of all time," co-creator Sam Levinson (Euphoria) said when asked about the show's references to Spears' public struggles in relation to Jocelyn's. "And, no, we're not trying to tell a story about any particular pop star. I think we're looking more at how the world perceives pop stars, and the pressure that it puts on that individual. It's a lot of pressure to constantly have to be on, and to have to be what everyone wishes you to be. I also think that it's a lonely life."

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye HBO The Idol Season 1 - Episode 3; NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 28: Recording artist Britney Spears attends the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
The Weeknd on 'The Idol'; Britney Spears
| Credit: Eddy Chen/HBO; Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Levinson clarified that episode 1's reference to Spears was "more of a publicist [character]'s spinning, and trying to draw connections and correlations so that the press will write about it kindly" in the world of the show.

"We can all pretend that everyone is looking out for someone's best interests, but I think fame really corrupts," he continued, "and I think it's very easy to surround yourself with myth-makers who just continue to prop up all of these... they continue to say, 'No, that was great. No, things are wonderful. Don't worry. Don't pay attention to that.' And there's something that can become very, very scary about that."

Depp echoed Levinson's sentiment, reiterating that the show is "not telling anybody else's story." She went on to praise the resilience of Spears and other "incredible pop stars of our day" after diving into the "psyche of somebody who lives a lifestyle that I personally haven't lived."

"But I think something that we also wanted to do with the character is make her feel simultaneously like a pop star of our time, but also she existed kind of in her own plane in a way. And we talked about a lot of other influences that are not pop star," Depp said. "We talked about Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. We talked about Gene Tierney. All of these other incredible powerful women that had a lot of influence on Jocelyn as well."

The Idol generated significant controversy months before its release, when Rolling Stone published a story alleging that the production had become a "s--- show" under Levinson.

"I thought the article was ridiculous. I wanted to give a ridiculous response to it," The Weeknd recently told Vanity Fair of his reaction to the piece, which saw him publish a clip from the show that featured characters calling the outlet "irrelevant."

The Idol premieres June 4 on HBO.

With additional reporting by Carita Rizzo.

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