“It was a pretty crazy move to start the film with me in the shower… That day I was in emotional pain and the director knew it was a special thing to capture.”
Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, a documentary about the 22-year-old singer’s career and life on the road, drops on Netflix today and in advance of the film’s release Mendes sat down for a virtual Q&A with eTalk’s Tyrone Edwards following an intimate virtual “premiere” of the film for fans in Canada.
The documentary follows Mendes as he embarks on an ambitious 109-stop world tour, chronicling small moments with his family, big moments like selling out the Rogers Centre in Toronto, and vulnerable moments like the singer’s agonizing decision to cancel his Sao Paolo concert because of a strain on his vocal chords.
The film opens with a shot of Mendes in the shower, following him as he walks out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, and the singer explains why he felt it was an important moment to share with viewers.
“It was a pretty crazy move to start the film with me in the shower. There was something really vulnerable about that moment because that was the day after São Paulo got cancelled, and I was in an extremely reflective mood,” Mendes tells Edwards. “I told the director, Grant Singer, to never turn the camera off. That day I was in emotional pain and he knew it was a special thing to capture.”
The camera also captures conversations and FaceTime chats between Mendes and his mother, father and sister in Pickering, Ont., where he was born, and private moments at his Toronto apartment.
“I think it’s important for people to know where you come from and where you started,” Mendes explains. “And for me, to remind myself. Going back, regardless of how much I’ve grown outside the city when I go back something switches in my brain. Turn the camera on me when I’m in Toronto and you’ll get the most original, authentic version of me.”
The 90-minute documentary also offers a peek at Mendes’s relationship with Camila Cabello, showing the couple hanging out at home, reminiscing about the early days of their friendship, and offering a behind-the-scenes peek at events such as their joint performance at the 2019 VMAs. To the general public, he explains, their relationship may seem like just “a song and a video and two famous names,” but it’s built on a long friendship. “We’ve been best friends for years since we were 16 years old. I really feel like that comes across in the documentary,” he says.
Looking back at the footage for the Netflix documentary, particularly moments when he broke down during the tour, Mendes says he got “really emotional” and wishes he could go back and cut himself some slack. “I wish I was softer on myself… The last person we give patience and love to is ourselves.”
But he wants people, especially men, to become more comfortable with expressing their emotions and allowing themselves to be vulnerable, citing Edwards’ own public display of emotion this past summer when speaking about the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the United States and Canada.
“That was one of the strongest things I’ve seen in my life,” says Mendes to Edwards. “The more men do that, the more they can inspire other men to do that, and inspire other people to heal,” adding that he wants to promote the notion that vulnerability is strength. “A lot of people think they have to be tough and never cry and I want to change that by showing my vulnerability.”
Shawn Mendes: In Wonder is streaming now on Netflix.