The Idol: Is Jocelyn Based on a Real Pop Star?

Image Credit: Eddy Chen/HBO

HBO’s ‘The Idol’ is a drama series revolving around Jocelyn, an up-and-coming young pop idol experiencing emotional issues and struggling to further her career. She is inadvertently drawn to Tedros, a self-help guru and a modern-day cult leader. Jocelyn’s torrid relationship with Tedros allows the narrative to explore the dark realities of the music business and the harmful sides of celebrity culture. As a result, it is natural for viewers to wonder if the character of Jocelyn in ‘The Idol’ is based on a real pop star.

Lily-Rose Depp Plays Jocelyn

In ‘The Idol,’ actress Lily-Rose Depp plays the role of Jocelyn, a chart-busting pop star going through a difficult period in life. Lily-Rose Depp is the daughter of Johnny Depp and French singer and model Vanessa Paradis. She began her acting career with a small role in the 2014 horror comedy film ‘Tusk’ written and directed by Kevin Smith. She plays the lead role of Colleen Collette in the film’s 2016 spin-off horror comedy ‘Yoga Hosers’ also directed by Smith. Depp’s breakthrough performance came as Isadora Duncan in the 2016 French biographical historical drama movie ‘The Dancer.’

Lily-Rose Depp is also known for her role as Catherine of Valois in ‘The King,’ a 2019 epic war film directed by David Michôd. Her other credits include films such as ‘Crisis,’ ‘Voyagers,’ and ‘Silent Night.’ ‘The Idol’ marks Lily-Rose Depp’s scripted television debut in a lead role. Her character, Jocelyn, is the show’s primary protagonist, and the narrative explores the dark world and harsh realities of the music business in Hollywood. The series also explores Jocelyn’s fragile mental health, the effects of her profession on her life, and her tumultuous relationship with Tedros, a self-help guru.

Jocelyn Shares Traits With Real Pop Stars

No, Jocelyn in ‘The Idol’ is not based on a real pop star. The series is not based on true events and tells a fictional story. Hence, it is safe to say that Jocelyn is not based on a real person, especially not one rooted in the music business that the narrative explores in depth. According to co-creator Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, the series is not directly inspired by any particular pop star’s life. However, the writers drew inspiration from several pop stars to craft a compelling story.

Image Credit: Eddy Chen/HBO

Nonetheless, viewers have found similarities between Depp’s character in the series and “Princess of Pop” Britney Spears. Like Spears, the show reveals Jocelyn was a teen pop sensation who is struggling to transition to an adult image. Spears was at the peak of her popularity during the 2000s but went through serious mental health issues between 2006 and 2008 that affected her public image, mirroring Jocelyn’s arc in the show. However, Tesfaye dismissed the notion of Jocelyn being based upon Spears during an interview with The New York Times.

“It’s not about Britney at all, but how could we not pull inspiration from Britney, from Madonna, from every pop star that’s gone through any kind of serious pain?” Tesfaye stated in the interview. Similarly, Lily-Rose Depp also cited several influences for her character in the show during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “Of course, there are so many incredible pop stars of today that I have nothing but admiration and respect for — and of course, you can’t help but thinking of when you think of a character like Jocelyn — but we’re definitely not telling anybody else’s story or trying to base her on any real person,” Depp said.

Depp also cited actresses Sharon Stone, Gene Tierney, and Lauren Bacall as an inspiration for her role as Jocelyn. In the aforementioned New York Times interview, Tesfaye also revealed that Depp worked with co-creator Sam Levinson to shape the character of Jocelyn. All things said, the words of Tesfaye and Depp concretely affirm that Jocelyn is not directly based on any real pop stars. Instead, various pop stars ranging from Madonna, Britney Spears, and arguably even Selena Gomez, along with other influences, helped shape the character of Jocelyn. Thus, Jocelyn is primarily a fictional character despite the similarities with real pop stars.

Read More: Where is HBO’s The Idol Filmed?