Less than ten minutes into Billie Eilish’s new Apple TV+ documentary The World’s a Little Blurry, the camera focuses on a familiar scene: a teenager sitting cross-legged on a bed flipping through a journal, its pages filled with musings and blush-inducing sketches.
Then comes something that reminds you that looks can be deceiving because what’s revealed on the pages is the opposite of ordinary — it’s the visionary blueprints for a career that will soon explode into global superstardom. “This is what I want the album to be called, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” explains Eilish as she points to the words for what becomes the title of her blockbuster debut, recorded in that very room at her parent’s Highland Park home.
She flips to another page showing a song that comes to life with monsters hiding underneath a bed. It will be the inspiration for “Bury a Friend,” a video viewed 396 million times on YouTube. “In the future, I’m going to do stuff with wings,” she continues. Mission accomplished in “All the Good Girls Go to Hell.” “And I also want to do something where I drink black liquid and my eyes turn black and I start bleeding black out of my eyes.”
She does that, too, in the video for “When the Party’s Over,” and the next sequence in the doc shows her blocking the scene with her mother in their backyard while her dad picks up dog poop. “When the Party’s Over” has racked up 669 million views and she wound up performing the track live at the 2020 Grammy Awards where she swept the major categories and walked away with five trophies including record, song and album of the year.
Grammy night is well covered at the tail end of the R.J. Cutler-directed doc and by the time it comes, it’s hard not to think about how Eilish’s early sketches and bold vision helped bring it all to life. Actually, there’s a lot to think about during the two hours and twenty minutes of The World’s a Little Blurry, a film filled with revelations about the now 19-year-old star as she navigates fame and all the complexities that come with it, a romantic relationship that has been, until now, kept private, and even the (gasp!) Los Angeles DMV. Below is a recap of several highlights ahead of the doc’s Feb. 26 bow on Apple TV+ and in select theaters.
A Mystery Love Interest Emerges
In last month’s Vanity Fair, Eilish revealed that the doc included a never-before-seen look at a romantic relationship that she never planned on discussing. “That was a huge part of my life,” she told the magazine. “And nobody knew it. it was this main thing that was taking control of my life.” The relationship doesn’t take control of the documentary but the ups and downs of her mystery boyfriend are revealed in emotional detail.
The first glimpse of her boyfriend, a man she only refers to as Q (Brandon Adams, reports Rolling Stone), comes during her birthday party at a roller rink. The couple is seen holding hands and several scenes later, Eilish tells him that she’s fallen for him. “You’re so fine. I love you,” she says. “I’m in love with you.” Q later supports her at the release party for her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and then as the doc unspools, there is friction as he, at times, doesn’t show up for major events like a party thrown by her label Interscope at Coachella. On another occasion, she finds out that he’s in the emergency room receiving medical care after punching a wall. “Q is so self-destructive, it’s scary,” she says, adding that there are attempts to get him to go to therapy.
Goodbye, My Love
“I just wasn’t happy,” Eilish says much later in explaining why she and Q ultimately called it quits. “I didn’t want the same things he wanted and I don’t think that’s fair to him. I don’t think you should be in a relationship super excited about things the other person couldn’t care less about. I didn’t think that was fair to him.” She went on to say that he didn’t have enough love for himself so he couldn’t give any to her. “I do love him though which is what made it harder,” she continued. Eilish also realized how much of life she was missing because she spent so much time worrying about him. “I don’t want to fix him. I can’t fix him. I’ve tried. I can’t do it anymore. I’m not happy. He’s gone.” And off she went for a performance in New York City during which she cried while singing the lyrics, “I love you but I don’t want to.”
No Time to Belt
Eilish and O’Connell finished a deadline to record the James Bond theme song “No Time to Die” by laying down the track on a tour bus. Fans went wild for the song in part because it features Eilish in a rare moment belting lyrics. “Why do people belt?” she asks. “It sounds awful. I’m going to get made fun of. The internet is going to be mean if I do it…if I belt.” But she did and now the song is nominated for a Grammy Award and it became her first No. 1 single in the U.K.
Do No Self-Harm
Eilish has been open about her history of cutting and how she used it to cope during rough patches in her life. She reads a portion of her journal to illustrate her state of mind around a time when she was in a really bad place. “This blade can do so much, but how deep do I go? Do I go until the pain is too much until my skin won’t stop bleeding and I’m too hurt to touch?” she reads, before adding that at 14 or 15 she had razors hidden around the house and Band-aids covering her wrists. “I was making myself bleed because I thought I deserved it.”
A List of Injuries
The singer opens up more about the many injuries she’s faced as her career has taken off. Because she was a dancer — the footage of her taking dance classes and performing is awe-inspiring — she ruptured a growth plate on her hip and has since dealt with shin splints and multiple sprained ankles. The documentary also shines a spotlight on how she’s managed Tourette Syndrome, something she has previously discussed. To stay in good health, Eilish talks about self-care and is seen receiving massage therapy in one scene.
Off She Goes With a Driver’s License
While the scene of Eilish sitting on her bed examining her journal will be a familiar one for so many, so will the scene that features her father standing in the driveway as Eilish drives off in her matte black Dodge Challenger (a gift from her label) for the first time alone with a new driver’s license. Patrick O’Connell dishes out a few driving lessons and then pauses after she’s gone to take stock in the cycle. It is one of the documentary’s most touching and quietly profound moments. “Her childhood went somewhere a long time ago,” he says. “Everybody feels that way when you get a license. You’re off to see what your life turns into. Then, we live in denial, as always … because you can’t think about it too hard or you won’t let her do anything. I mean, I had a drink of something and completely choked on it. It’s remarkable that we stay alive at all. We’re this delicate system. It’s remarkable and you have to have faith, live your best life and then you have to live in denial. Because, what else?”
Coachella, the Nightmare
Ahead of her 2019 debut performance at Coachella, Eilish says she had a dream — but not like the one that inspired the hit song “Everything I wanted.” Quite the opposite, really. “I had a dream that Coachella was horrible and the worst thing ever and it ruined my career.” Quite the opposite, really.
Starry Night With Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom
Also, during Coachella weekend, she bumps into Katy Perry who introduces her fiancé. The world knows him as Orlando Bloom but Eilish doesn’t instantly place his face. Meanwhile, Perry, a veteran of the global stage, offers an ear to Eilish on how to navigate fame. “I wanted to say this is going to be wild for 10 years. If you ever wanna talk…cause it’s a weird ride.”
Moments later, it is explained to Eilish that Perry’s fiancé is the movie star who played Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. “No way, bring him back,” Eilish says. “I want to meet him again. He kissed me on the cheek! I did not know that was him. I thought it was some dude that Katy Perry met.”
It’s an amusing scene that also includes a cheeky reference to Bloom’s nude paddle boarding pics as her brother Finneas O’Connell jokes about the 2016 incident. Eilish gets her wish moments later when she bumps into Bloom and he gives her a big hug. “This is the universe hugging you. I’m giving you so much love right now,” he says to Eilish as she says her 9-year-old self would be freaking out. “Oh my lord, I love you.”
Post-Coachella Praise From the Parents
Eilish felt she “bombed the shit out of” her performance of the track “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” during her Coachella outing. She admits this to her family after the show but her mother reassures her that was not the way the audience embraced it. “I wish you could feel what we felt. People were just like, ‘She’s a superstar,'” her mother says as she hugs her. “People loved it so much and that’s what you can do with everything going down around you.”
Technical difficulties delayed the start of the show and it wasn’t clear if the screens were even going to work. “Who cares,” says her father, joining her mother in providing another dose of reassurance that the show was a hit. But while she was praised for her performance, things in her personal life weren’t perfect. “Where are you? Can you come here?” Eilish asks Q when he calls her after not showing up to meet her. “What do you mean, try?” Hello?” The conversation ends with Eilish throwing the phone and breaking down in tears.
Incoming Text From Justin Bieber
After the hug seen around the world at Coachella, Bieber sent a text to Eilish that she reads to her family. “Your love for me touched my heart. You are so special, not for what you can do but for who you are — remember that. I’m so impressed by your aura and presence. You carry a heavy calling. You are an idol to so many and I’m excited to watch you flourish. Thank you for tonight. It meant as much to me as it did to you. It feels like yesterday I was 15 singing ‘One Time.’ It flew by in a flash. Now I’m 25. Embrace it all, Billie. You are great but not greater than anyone.” The moving text causes O’Connell to say, “You gotta be friends with him. Seriously. Let’s talk about people that value you. People that give you value.”
A Family of Beliebers
The Coachella encounter and the subsequent text message is put in context when Eilish’s mother recalls just how much she loved him growing up and how the whole family joined in that adoration. “She was lovesick and desperately in love with Justin Bieber. The whole family went to see Believe or Never Say Never on Christmas day. We all thought he was amazing.”
Bieber’s Congratulatory Call
After her sweep at the 2020 Grammy Awards, Eilish was still backstage at Staples Center when Justin Bieber FaceTimes to congratulate her. O’Connell is doing a quick wardrobe change and is pantsless when Eilish calls him over to hear Bieber on the other line. “Was it amazing? How did it feel?” he asks. “I’m so proud of you.” The congratulatory call from her onetime crush turned friend and confidante is an exclamation point on an already monumental night. “It’s almost as exciting as winning all the Grammys.”