The Weeknd Talks About Troubled Past, Friendship With Jim Carrey
In a rare interview – his first in nearly five years – The Weeknd reflected on his troubled past and revealed his full-circle friendship with fellow Toronto native Jim Carrey.
The singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, told Variety was heading down the wrong path growing up. He was briefly homeless and messed up on ketamine, cocaine, ecstasy and cough syrup.
“It was tough growing up where I was from,” the singer said of the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. “I got into a lot of trouble, got kicked out of school, moved to different schools and finally dropped out.
“I really thought film was gonna be my way out, but I couldn’t really make a movie to feel better, you know? Music was very direct therapy; it was immediate and people liked it. It definitely saved my life.”
But, the attention that came from his music was hard to deal with. The Weeknd said the song “Faith” from his new album After Hours is about “the darkest time of my entire life, around 2013, 2014 – when debut studio album Kiss Land was out.
“I was getting really, really tossed up and going through a lot of personal stuff,” he recalled. “I got arrested in Vegas. It was a real rock-star era, which I’m not really proud of. You hear sirens at the end the song — that’s me in the back of the cop car, that moment.” (The Weeknd was charged with assaulting a police officer in January 2015. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 50 hours of community service.)
“I always wanted to make that song but I never did, and this album felt like the perfect time. I wanted to be that guy again — the ‘Heartless’ guy who hates God and is losing his f**king religion and hating what he looks like in the mirror so he keeps getting high. That’s who this song is.”
The Weeknd added: “I’m growing and wiser, and I’m gonna have children someday, and I’m going to tell them they don’t have to be that person.”
Elsewhere in the interview, The Weeknd recalled feeling like Usher had ripped off his sound for his 2012 track "Climax." He said: "It was very flattering, and I knew I was doing something right, but I also got angry."
The Weeknd also recalled being four years old when his mother took him to see The Mask, the 1994 movie starring Jim Carrey. He was blown away.
Fast forward to 2019 and he was introduced by text to Carrey, whom he invited to listen to some of his new music.
“I texted him the address of my condo in L.A., and he said, ‘I can literally see your place from my balcony,’ and we got out telescopes and were waving to each other,” The Weeknd said. “And when I told him about my mom taking me to see The Mask, he knew the theatre! Anyway, on my [30th] birthday, he called and told me to look out my window, and on his balcony he had these giant red balloons, and he picked me up and we went to breakfast.
“It was surreal. Jim Carrey was my first inspiration to be any kind of performer, and I went to breakfast with him on my first day of being 30.”
Listen to music from The Weeknd