Over the previous few months, The Weeknd — a.okay.a. Abel Tesfaye — has discovered a number of methods to broaden his persona. He’s dropped his smash “After Hours” album, which introduced forth a brand new vulnerability in its lyrics, and made a cameo look (as himself) in Adam Sandler’s movie “Uncut Gems.” However on the different finish of the spectrum, he made comedian turns on each “Saturday Night time Dwell,” and in a visitor spot on TBS’ long-running animated collection “American Dad,” which noticed him not solely writing a track and voicing his character (a actually virginal model of himself) but in addition serving to to jot down the episode, which was known as, naturally, “A Starboy Is Born.”
“I’m a longtime fan of the present,” he tells Variety. “I’ve been watching since highschool however I actually appreciated it about seven years in the past. It’s been operating for thus lengthy, and I really feel prefer it has an actual cult following. To essentially benefit from the present in its entirety you must actually know the characters.”
The present presents a comic book twist on The Weeknd picture — as did his look in a traditional “SNL” song-skit with Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd known as “On the Sofa,” a mock R&B ballad about being banished by the spouse.
The Weeknd spoke with Variety about “American Dad” when the episode first aired in Might — however as Emmy season will get rolling, we related with him once more, together with the present’s writer-producer Joel Hurwitz. (And in case you haven’t already, try Variety‘s unique cowl story on The Weeknd, and our track-by-track interview with him about “After Hours.”)
How did the script come collectively? Have been you sending it again and forth or was it extra brainstorming over the cellphone?
Hurwitz: I’ve by no means written a script with a mega-celebrity singer earlier than, so we mainly invented our course of on the fly. Early on, Abel was in New York recording a No. 1 album or one thing. So we talked on the cellphone and texted so much.
Movie star cameos are inherently corny, however we needed “A Starboy Is Born” to be completely different. The Weeknd and “American Dad” are weirdly aligned within the zeitgeist, so this had the potential to be particular. After we wrote the script, I stored Abel within the loop at each boring animation stage. “American Dad” is a workforce effort and Abel’s involvement fired everybody up.
Abel, “American Dad” confirmed a humorous facet of your character and persona that hadn’t actually been seen earlier than. Was that one thing you needed extra individuals to concentrate on?
The Weeknd: Sure, as a result of I’ve been doing this for a decade now and everybody thinks I’ve this darkish, shadowy aura. I needed to point out those that I don’t take myself too severely.
What’s one other side of your character or persona that possibly isn’t well-known?
The Weeknd: I’m very approachable and individuals don’t actually know that about me. It could be stunning to some to learn the way inquisitive I’m and how a lot I like speaking to individuals and going deep into dialog.
Did the thought for the track come when you have been working on the script?
Hurwitz: We thought the unique track ought to play in opposition to The Weeknd’s model. The writers room pitched so many hilarious track concepts. Sooner or later within the room, I wrote “Weeknd is Virgin” on the board. I immediately regretted it. I used to be crying from laughing so arduous, however I nonetheless didn’t know Abel that effectively. I assumed it might offend him. Like, asking The Weeknd to name himself a virgin isn’t quirky — it might straight up harm The Weeknd’s picture if the episode sucks. So I didn’t pitch the virgin concept. Then that night time, Abel known as me and stated “Hey, what if I used to be a virgin?”
The Weeknd: If you hear the track you perceive that it’s particularly for the present. Additionally an enormous shout out to Asa [Taccone, who co-wrote the song and also co-wrote and co-produced Portugal. The Man’s smash “Feel It, Still”], who’s a f—ing genius producer/author. Positively can be collaborating with him extra sooner or later.
Joel, was this your songwriting debut?
Hurwitz: Technically, my songwriting debut was somewhat quantity known as “White Pubes” for “Robotic Rooster.” The track is about pubic hair and I contemplate it to be my “Blinding Lights.”
Have been you shocked that Abel is such an enormous fan of the present?
Hurwitz: Nothing in regards to the “American Dad” fan base will ever shock me. Our fan base is a passionate, working class skewing, Gen Z skewing, high-AF-skewing crew of stone chilly killers. “American Dad” has change into a cultural drive, and the Boomers who management Hollywood actually don’t know. The “American Dad” opening sequence is iconic within the meme neighborhood. However sure, Abel is manner too well-known to be watching our dumb cartoon.
What was it prefer to work with him?
Hurwitz: Unbelievable. I nonetheless can’t imagine it occurred. This venture wasn’t some Massive three agency-sanctioned collaboration. It had humble beginnings: I received The Weeknd’s cellphone quantity from a man named Money [Weeknd comanager Amir “Cash” Esmailian] at a celebration in Marshmello’s suite on the Wynn.
Abel, what’s your dream episode of a cartoon you’d make, each as a author and voicing a personality?
The Weeknd: Working with [legendary Warner Bros. voice actor] Mel Blanc would have been a dream — attending to play alongside him as Bugs Bunny would have been surreal.
Are there any cartoons you’re feeling ought to change into a movie however haven’t but?
The Weeknd: “ReBoot,” from Canada — I’ve at all times needed to see a full-length movement image of that.
Which cartoon character within the identified universe can be your spirit animal?
The Weeknd: It’s a three-way tie between Mickey Mouse and Beavis and Butthead.