How the artist’s new documentary, ‘Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry,’ tells the coming of age story behind one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
Billie Eilish may only be 19, but her first documentary is over two hours long.
The first half focuses on everything before Eilish released her record-smashing debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, while everything post-intermission (yes, there is an intermission) shows how her personal and professional life got even crazier after its release.
The uniting thread through it all is that, despite the lengthy run time that flies by, there’s no agenda-pushing or forced plot — the film rather centers on the drama built into being a teen, superstar or not. From capturing Eilish’s previously private relationship and its end, to watching her mom, Maggie, toss her daughter’s custom Louis Vuitton outfit into their outdoor washing machine the day after Billie’s album came out, the film is packed with the most humanizing moments in what has been a whirlwind few years for the artist and her family.
Perhaps the best part, though, is that instead of glossing over some of the most painful moments — quite literally, like the time Eilish sprained her ankle within seconds of starting a sold-out Milan concert to the time she forgot the words to a song during her Coachella debut — the documentary unpacks them for what they are.
In doing so, The World’s a Little Blurry is a refreshing return to the documentary as a vehicle for unveiling, unlike many celebrity documentaries of late that more so double as concert films or hype-reels. Despite how often Eilish has talked about her family, mental health journey and concerns over cancel culture, the film manages to show, not tell, how these topics have impacted and continue to impact her as both a teenager and public figure.
Ahead of the documentary’s arrival Friday in select theaters and streaming on Apple TV+, here are the nine most surprising things we learned.
At One Point, Billie Didn’t Want to Make a Second Album
While showing the process of making When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, the fun-filled goofy dynamic often seen between her and Finneas momentarily falls to the sidelines, exposing a tenser dynamic as creative collaborators, with Finneas pushing for structure and Eilish feeling consumed by doubt. At one point, Finneas compares managing expectations of his sister and her label, Darkroom/Interscope, to navigating a minefield. Meanwhile, Eilish says she hates the deadline they’ve been given, which happens to be just before her 17th birthday, as it introduces more pressure. She also admits to hating writing songs, which Finneas believes is because she’s “so woke” about her online persona and afraid of anything she says or creates being hated. Much of this conversation casually unfolds in their kitchen, as their mom, Maggie, dries dishes nearby. The chat ends in the definitive (though since disproven) statement from Eilish: “I’m not going to make another album.”
She’s Always Been Meticulous About Her Vision
By now, Eilish’s music video for “When the Party’s Over” has been viewed nearly 670 million times on YouTube. But before the clip, in which black liquid streams from her eyes, became a reality, she directed her mom to act out exactly how it should all go down while seated at a table in their backyard (meanwhile, her dad is seen in the background picking up dog poop). Eilish gets down to such specifics, like telling her mom which hand to pick up the glass from, while capturing it all to send to the video director. But once on set, things don’t run as smoothly as planned, and by the end of the shoot, Eilish tells Darkroom label head Justin Lubliner, “I’m directing all my videos by myself.” And she has, collecting credits on the music videos for “Xanny,” “Everything I Wanted” and “Therefore I Am.”
Maggie Is Her Moral Compass
While workshopping the somber, aching “Listen Before I Go,” Maggie asks, “You’re going that dark? … You’re seriously talking about jumping off the roof?” to which Eilish reasons it’s better to have music and songwriting as her outlet, to say it through this song than to act on it. Later, while discussing the anti-drug track “Xanny,” in which Interscope’s Chelsea Dodson (creative content) points out the potential down-the-road backlash if Eilish ever changes her stance, Maggie replies: “You’ve got a whole army of people helping you not destroy your life like people have done before you.” Elsewhere, Maggie acknowledges, “It’s a hard time for teenagers… There’s a lot to be depressed about right now,” citing everything from having parents who lived through the recession, living in a culture with an opioid and drug epidemic, facing the possible destruction of the planet, and an intense political and racist climate. “People are like, ‘Billie Eilish’s music is depressing,’” she says. “It’s like, no, kids are depressed.”
Her Relationship Unraveled as Her Career Was Skyrocketing
Throughout the doc, fans are given the most up-close-and-personal look into Eilish’s past relationship with Q, who is shown at such major life moments as Eilish’s 17th birthday and Coachella debut. Before she hits the stage, he’s seen helping select an outfit and suggest hairstyles while she sings to him in her trailer (meanwhile, a tense Maggie watches from the doorway, stressing about time). Elsewhere, Eilish and Q are heard saying “I love you” on phone calls and making semi-firm plans, most of which seem to leave Eilish wanting more from him. He’s nowhere to be found after her Coachella set (during which she was hooked up to oxygen after her weekend one gig, feeling less than thrilled with how the show went) and she reveals later on she’s tried to get him to go to therapy. Later, while discussing their breakup — citing that they wanted different things and saying she can’t fault him for that — she sings along with her best friend to Tove Lo’s “Glad He’s Gone.”
She Didn’t Realize Who Orlando Bloom Was When She First Met Him
Prior to her Coachella set, Eilish is visited by Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. Perry is heard telling the young superstar: “This is going to be wild for 10 years if you ever want to talk… It’s a weird ride.” Later, Eilish is seen sitting with her brother and his girlfriend, Claudia, as they pull up a Google image search of Orlando Bloom. Eilish then realizes who he is and what films he has starred in, much to her surprise. Fortunately, she and Bloom have a second encounter just before she’s about to perform when he runs backstage to use the restroom and kindly asks her to hold the show so he doesn’t miss a thing.
Justin Bieber Wanted to Be on Her Debut
Eilish’s die-hard fandom for Bieber is no secret. And while his feature on the “Bad Guy” remix fulfilled her wildest childhood hopes and dreams, it turns out Bieber first suggested he guest on her debut album. During a call with Lubliner, the label head tells Eilish, “Justin is fanboying over you right now.” She asks how she should reply to a DM from the pop star that read, “I want to be on your album,” which at that point was coming out in just three days. Lubliner asks if she would want to do a new song with him post-album release, and she says with a nervous smile she doesn’t want to work with him (due to nerves). Instead, they suggest a remix of “Bad Guy” — and Eilish says she’ll be thrilled if all he sings is the word “poop.” Not long after, she and Bieber met for the first time during the second weekend of Coachella. While back at the hotel, Eilish read a new message from him aloud to her family (her dad can be seen rocking a Phoebe Bridgers shirt). “You carry a heavy calling,” it said.
He Also FaceTimed Her on Grammys Night
Sure enough, that’s not the last we hear of Bieber. He also FaceTimed Eilish following her historic Grammys Big Four sweep (she became the youngest artist and first woman to win all four general field categories in one night). “Answer it,” someone instructed as Eilish squeals at the call. As Bieber’s face appears on her phone screen, he says, “I’m proud of you.” He then asks to speak to Finneas, who yells out that he doesn’t have pants on, to which his sister replies, “But it’s Justin Bieber!”
She’s Prioritizing Physical and Mental Well Being — And Keeping Family Close
After Eilish sprains her ankle during her Milan show, her mom reinforces the idea that she has to strengthen her body every day to keep up with the demands of such high-energy performances night after night. “We’re trying to heal your body,” she says, to which Eilish replies: “My body’s always going to be broke, even if we heal it. When something breaks a bunch of times, it’s broken.” She’s soon after shown flipping through an old journal, in which she wrote: “This blade can do so much… so much power in my hands… but how deep do I go?” Eilish says that page was the peak of her depression, when she was 14 or 15, recalling how she had razors and band-aids hidden in her room. Earlier in the film, days after Eilish and Bieber met at Coachella, Maggie recalled how obsessed Eilish was with him growing up. “He’s just been through so much,” she says. “I honestly don’t know how any artist of any age with this kind of trajectory is doing it without a parent, without someone who loves you more than life itself and would do anything for you. You can’t pay someone to do that.”
This Color May Usher In Her Next Era
The opening credits of the film are, shockingly, not lime-green-colored. Instead, they’re a light blue that fades into a deeper, purplish hue. Eilish already owned a grayish-blue hue just a few years ago, and she’s also teased to give fans a “new era” with this next project. And though fans online are speculating the color red may dominate, the color of the credits begs the question: Could we be getting a purple look in the near future?