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Courtesy of HBO

Some performances take your breath away. The Weeknd‘s, in HBO’s forthcoming The Idol, snatched his voice.

The singer — whose real name is Abel Tesfaye — plays nightclub owner/cult leader Tedros in the drama from Euphoria‘s Sam Levinson. The character becomes deeply enmeshed with a rising pop star (played by Lily-Rose Depp) but is not, himself, a singer… a difference that Tesfaye reportedly took on right down to his vocal chords.

After filming an Idol scene as Tedros during one of The Weeknd’s own concerts at California’s SoFi Stadium, “It was tough to go from one head to another,” Tesfaye says in a new interview in magazine. “Then, after the concert, I lost my voice. No voice came out at all. That’s never happened before. My theory is that I forgot how to sing because I was playing Tedros, a character who doesn’t know how to sing.”

He adds: “I may be looking too deeply into this, but it was terrifying” and “There was something very complicated going on with my mind at that moment.”

The series, described in its logline as the “sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood,” follows Depp’s starlet Jocelyn as she navigates the music industry and ultimately falls under Tedros’ control. Our sister site Rolling Stone recently reported on the near-total creative overhaul that led to a reshoot of the entire first season and turned the show into “sexual torture porn.” Tesfaye was not quoted in the piece but responded via Twitter with a clip from the show in which Tedros calls the magazine “irrelevant.” “@RollingStone did we upset you?” Tesfaye added.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, HBO defended both The Idol and the production process, adding that “the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew.”

The Idol will premiere on Sunday, June 4, at 9/8c on HBO. It will stream on Max.

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