In AppleTV’s new documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, director R.J. Cutler captures the type of chaotic, thrilling year in the life of a pop star that few filmmakers get to access. The doc follows Eilish from the final weeks of recording her massive debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go to the 2020 Grammys, where she swept the four main categories. Much of the feature flows like home-video footage, with Eilish’s parents and brother-producer Finneas O’Connell taping some of the more intimate moments of her rapid rise to the top of the charts. The World’s a Little Blurry offers a window into the teenage superstar’s private world, even the parts she’s previously kept hidden from the public eye.
Here are eight things we learned about Eilish from the new film.
1. Eilish’s song-inspired drawings became music-video concepts.
Eilish has sketched out the concepts for many of her songs in her journal, and many of those drawings have also become a part of her music videos. In the video for somber single “When the Party’s Over,” her plan had always been to start “bleeding black” out of her eyes. She even screen-tested the idea in her backyard, with her mom sitting at a table and drinking from an empty glass — as her dad picked up dog poop in the background. The video came to life just as she’d imagined: The singer drinks a black liquid only for it to flow from her eyes as the song progresses.
2. Finneas hid the label’s request for the pair to write a hit from his sister.
Eilish had been gaining buzz long before When We All Fall Asleep was released, so as she prepped her debut, there was immense pressure for the album to yield a hit. Her brother Finneas had to hide their label’s requests for a big single from his little sister, even as they were recording in the close quarters of his childhood bedroom. “It feels like kind of a minefield for me,” he tells his mom, who is filming him in their kitchen. “I’ve been told to write a hit but I’ve been told to not tell Billie that we have to write a hit.” As they neared the album’s finish line, Eilish grew more annoyed with the songwriting process, especially due to her own concern with people hating the final product. “You can’t trick her into writing a song,” their mom advises.
3. There was concern that her anti-drug and -alcohol stance would make her seem like a hypocrite later.
In interviews and on songs like “Xanny,” Eilish makes clear that she’s against drug and alcohol use, especially in excessive amounts. When one of Eilish’s associates points out that her teenage opinion on those substances could be turned against her later in life if she ever decides to start drinking, smoking, or using drugs, the star’s mom defends her daughter’s right to change her mind. “Are you not going to let her be authentic to who she is now in case she does grow up to use drugs?” Eilish’s mom states.
4. Justin Bieber has gone from childhood crush to confidante.
Before becoming a teen idol herself, Eilish grew up obsessed with Justin Bieber. He was her hero and her ultimate crush. So when Bieber reached out via Instagram asking to collaborate around the time of her album’s release, she was starstruck. They decided to do a remix of her hit single “Bad Guy,” even though they had yet to meet. When they did finally meet at Coachella while Ariana Grande was on stage, Eilish broke down in tears as he held her. He ended up writing her a lengthy, thoughtful message after their meeting explaining how her reaction reminded him why he does what he does and offering words of solace and support. He even FaceTimed Eilish to offer congratulations after she swept the “big four” Grammy categories in early 2020.
5. She fell in love and got her heart broken all while promoting her debut album.
Eilish has largely kept her dating life private as she’s grown more famous, so the confirmation of her relationship with Brandon Adams — a fellow musician who is known as Q — is one of the doc’s biggest reveals. In the film, Eilish makes it clear that she’s in love with Q but has a hard time getting ahold of him while she’s on the road and, even worse, when she’s home in Los Angeles, where he’s also based. Her parents seem supportive of the relationship, but also cautious. “I heard he broke his hand because he was angry, and he punched the wall,” her dad points out when Eilish decides to pay a visit to her injured boyfriend shortly after getting her driver’s license. “We’ve never known where he’s lived, or any of ’em,” her dad says in conversation with her mom once she’s left. The final straw in the relationship is a conversation that Eilish and Q have before she performs at New York’s Pier 17. Not feeling supported, Eilish breaks it off with him for good.
6. Touring has already taken a toll on her physical health.
The busiest year of the rising star’s life was compounded by numerous physical ailments. While on a heavy touring schedule around the world, she got shin splints and threw her neck out. She continued to perform, but due to life and career stress, as well as her Tourette’s syndrome, Eilish had to begin seeing physical therapists, who advised her to slow down.
7. Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are huge fans.
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom also revealed how much they stan Eilish backstage at Coachella. Perry and Eilish even had a heart-to-heart, with the veteran megastar offering to talk to Eilish whenever the newly famous singer needed to vent or seek advice. When Eilish came back to her trailer, she revealed that she had no idea who Bloom was initially, having to be shown pictures of him from Pirates of the Caribbean. “I thought that was just some dude Katy Perry met,” Eilish says. She rectified this later, meeting and hugging it out with Bloom once more in the VIP area. “Now I know who he is,” she says to the camera.
8. She hated her Coachella performance.
During her highly anticipated Coachella debut, Eilish endured a flurry of difficulties. The massive screens behind her weren’t working properly, causing a delay. Then, while singing “All the Good Girls Go to Hell,” she flubbed the verses and awkwardly tried to play it off with the audience as the song continued. Afterward, she was beside herself, upset at how the performance went and begging her boyfriend to come see her. (As we learn in the film, he didn’t show up.)
From Rolling Stone US