The directors of Uncut Gems have revealed that The Weeknd wasn’t originally intended to star in the film as a pop star who gets into a fight with protagonist Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler).
In a video interview with NME, Josh and Benny Safdie ran through the other artists they were considering for the role before they established an “awesome” friendship with the Canadian singer and changed tack.
“We became friends after he saw Good Time, he really liked that film a lot,” said Josh. “But before we met him, I remember we did a table where ASAP Ferg and it was a character named Privilege.”
He continued: “Before it was Ferg, it was going to be an unknown [artist], like a local aspiring rapper – actually we were talking about Troy Ave for a little bit.”
Josh went on to explain that once the decision was made to set Uncut Gems around the year 2012, things aligned for The Weeknd to play a fictionalised version of himself in the movie.
“When we ended up landing on the right period because of Kevin Garnett [former NBA player], and it was with The Weeknd, we realised it was going to take place right around the trilogy [The Weeknd’s 2011 trio of mixtapes], and then we were able to use ‘The Morning’, which is one of my favourite songs of his.”
Elsewhere in the interview Josh said that Sandler would regularly play The Weeknd’s music on set “just to remind people” of the pop star in their ranks.
He added that The Weeknd’s latest singles, ‘Heartless’ and ‘Blinding Lights’, feel like “a nice cousin to the film”.
Watch the full interview above.
The critically-acclaimed thriller now features in the Top 10 with 408 mentions, which equates to three per minute.
Uncut Gems is out now in the US and is released in UK cinemas this Friday, 10 January. It arrives on Netflix worldwide, excluding the US, on January 31.