Sam Levinson has been involved in controversy since the premiere of HBO’s hit show Euphoria — and with his new show, The Idol, he has once again managed to create an environment where actors are afraid to defend their own character’s storylines.
In January 2022, when actor Barbie Ferreira did not attend the season two premiere of Euphoria, speculation started to circulate. This also fueled already existing rumors of tension on set. Reports soon came out that Ferreira had walked off set at least twice, and her disagreement with Levinson over her character’s storyline led to a screen time reduction in the second season.
Now, Levinson is producing The Idol, and criticisms are beginning to mirror the ones seen earlier: The producer has apparently declined actors’ requests or suggestions for storylines in favor of his own. This could potentially lead to character development that lacks depth and personal perspective.
Levinson joined the project late but managed to put model-turned-actor Lily-Rose Depp in a similar situation.
The show was originally centered on a young starlet navigating a predatory industry, but Levinson decided to throw away most of that. Levinson and co-creator The Weeknd, who also stars alongside Depp, were unhappy with the direction of the show, originally directed by Amy Seimetz. The Weeknd reportedly thought it leaned too much into the “female perspective.”
Levinson’s pursuit of total creative control has once again led to a major character reduction and has caused the show to lose its original message.
Making entertainment is a collaborative effort, and what helps bring unique perspectives to film — and actors should have some creative autonomy over their characters’ direction as part of that collaborative process.
Many fans were rightfully angry when the first instance with Ferreira happened. It was clear as the second season went on that very little attention was paid to her character or storyline. The drama could have potentially been avoided if Levinson had listened to Ferreira’s concerns.
Women such as Ferreira or Depp might be able to offer a different perspective on their characters. With Ferreira’s own input and understanding of the character, a new season should’ve offered opportunities for even more depth among the cast.
The actors agreed to do these shows because they wanted to play the characters. Producers and directors should trust they are also capable of bringing their own creative vision to set. Viewers can only hope production higher-ups will value the opinions of their actors, as well as other creatives, to produce entertainment that explores more than one person’s idea.
No actor should be punished or have their career path threatened because they simply want their opinions to be heard.