The following story contains minor spoilers for The Idol Episode 4.
THE IDOL is a weird show. Through its first four episodes—
80% of the Season 1 duration—it kind of feels like a lot has happened. Tedros (The Weeknd, aka Abel Tesfaye) and his friends are now living in Jocelyn’s (Lily-Rose Depp) house, for example. But at the same time, nothing has really happened. Characters know people they didn’t know at the start of the show, sure, but, really, just about everything about these characters has stayed stagnant. Nothing on the inside has changed. And so it’s kind of felt like four episodes of a show saying and showing the same thing—toxic character traits and attempts at being provocative to audiences—over and over again.
So something loosely referenced early on in the show almost feels further back in the past than it actually is. But that’s where Episode 4, “Stars Belong to the World,” takes things, bringing “Hearthrob Rob,” a character referred to back in Episode 1 as having cheated on Jocelyn, dumped her, and broken her heart, into the show for the first time in the flesh.
The Idol isn’t shy about it’s real-world parallels. When looking at a story about a pop star who went through a mental break and then has other parties trying to take power and control in her life, it’s easy to think of one person, and situation, in particular: Britney Spears and her conservatorship. Given how involved in the making of the show The Weekend is, most of the music industry/record label stuff is also likely based in truth; his producer/friend Mike Dean even appeared in the most recent episode playing himself.
So, then, when we hear about a famous, A-list actor character in the show, it’s only natural to start thinking about who The Idol could be drawing influence from. Let’s not think too much about this, but Rob mentions a superhero role in “Stars Belong to the World,” and there does happen to be a major hearthrob actor named Rob who plays a superhero in the real world, too.
Who is Rob on The Idol?
Rob is referred to in the very first episode of The Idol as “Hearthrob Rob,” by Leia (Rachel Sennott), who says that he cheated on Jocelyn and dumped her, breaking her heart. Not cool! Jeez, Rob.
But we learn in Episode 4 that this may not have actually been the case. After Jocelyn discovers that Dyanne (Jennie Kim) has seemingly set up her entire situation with Tedros and also been handed her summer banger song “World Class Sinner” by the record label, she texts Rob to come over—and he comes over with the quickness.
When Rob shows up, Tedros at first tries to get him into a shot-taking contest. Rob obliges, and easily outlasts Tedros, who apparently is just as pathetic at drinking as he is at everything else. Tedros tries to use kung-fu moves on Rob for some reason, but Rob gets upstairs to Jocelyn’s room, where they have a sexual encounter—Jocelyn very much using this to get back at Tedros for… something? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest.
We then learn the truth of Rob and Jocelyn’s previous relationship; she’s the one who suggested they be non-monogamous, he regrets leaving her to go film his superhero movie (which he reveals has a costume where his face is hardly visible), and he feels bad for having a relationship with his co-star and breaking Jocelyn’s heart (even though, again, the whole open relationship thing seems to have been her idea). Rob is also nice to Jocelyn about her abusive mother. Rob—good guy.
As the episode closes, Rob tells Jocelyn that he’s got to go do press for his movie, and invites her to join him in his private jet; she declines. On his way out, Xander (Troye Sivan), now for some reason loyal to Tedros after being tortured with a dog shock collar, sets Rob up to take photos with a scantily-dressed fan who poses with him in suggestive poses, much against his will. Clearly Tedros will leak these to try to get Rob bad press/fired. Dumb!
Is Rob on The Idol based on Robert Pattinson?
Who really knows, honestly, but a lot of the pieces seem to be there.
First off: a cool guy/heartthrob actor named Rob who’s playing a superhero? That’s not exactly subtle. Actor Karl Glusman isn’t exactly a RPatz lookalike, but the vibe in this episode is close enough. And the whole co-star thing could be somewhat reminiscent of a famous rumored affair between Pattinson’s girlfriend at the time, Kristen Stewart, and Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders.
Rob is played by actor Karl Glusman
Actor Karl Glusman was probably someone that The Idol writer/director Sam Levinson had on his wish list for a long time. Glusman was the lead in 2015’s Love, a movie said to include sequences of unsimulated sex, from writer/director Gaspar Noé. Noé is known as a provocateur, and seems to be more successful across the board in the kind of erotic/raunchy/button-pushing stories that Levinson wants to make.
In addition to Love, Glusman also starred in The Neon Demon (from director Nicolas Winding Refn), Nocturnal Animals (from Tom Ford), and last year’s excellent horror film Watcher, among others. He also appeared alongside Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup in Netflix’s Gypsy and a key role in Alex Garland’s Devs on the small screen.
Glusman will next be seen in Garland’s upcoming film Civil War (alongside Kirsten Dunst) and Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders (alongside Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, Boyd Holbrook, and Michael Shannon).
He was also married to Zoe Kravitz between 2019 and 2021.
For more on ‘The Idol’…
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