Troye Sivan stars in the new drama, ‘Three Months’, about being exposed to HIV in a pre-PrEP world, premiering on Paramount+.
Troye Sivan didn’t get famous by being shy. A prolific teenage YouTube vlogger who famously came out via a 2013 entry at age eighteen, the now 26-year-old pop music superstar, who boasts almost 12.5 million Instagram followers, stripped down to a pair of swimming trunks and a sailor’s hat Jean Genet would applaud for last August’s “Rager Teenager!” live redux music video, and would have made even Bruce Weber blush the following month with the even more sexy follow-up, “Angel Baby”.
On February 23rd, Paramount + will premiere the provocative 2011-set dramedy Three Months, in which Sivan stars as a Jewish South Florida teenager, Caleb, who’s exposed to HIV during a hookup but must endure an agonizing three months (and multiple antibody tests) wait and plenty of drama before knowing whether he contracted the virus or not.
This is the Johannesburg-born, Perth Australia-raised, and proudly Jewish Sivan’s first leading role as an adult. His onscreen debut entailed playing Hugh Jackman’s iconic superhero Wolverine as a child in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine; he starred in the comedic Spud movie trilogy (2010-2014) based on South Africa’s bestselling coming-of-age book series, and played a gay teen in a conversion therapy program in 2018’s Boy Erased.
Three Months also sees Sivan engage in a complicated onscreen romance with a closeted Indian-American, Estha (Viveik Kalra), as well as contributing two excellent new songs to its soundtrack.
During a Zoom interview with PASSPORT from Los Angeles, Sivan, who recently appeared in the Valentine’s Day campaign from Beyonce’s Ivy Park and Adidas fashion collaboration, Ivy Heart, wasn’t shy about discussing the film’s challenges, HIV stigma and STI experiences, spas, which city has the hottest guys, and his dream collaborators.
Writer/director Jared Frieder was inspired to write Three Months after a condom broke a week before he graduated from college, and the deeply personal screenplay took a decade to make it to the screen. I heard you were attached to the project since 2019, but filming commenced right before the pandemic lockdown and was forced to stop. This must have also represented an important project for you to stick with it to the end. What did it mean to you?
Yeah, it’s been a really long time coming. I think the weight of playing a lead was a lot for me, it was a lot of pressure and scared the living daylights out of me, but also a challenge I wanted for a while. To be in every scene and take the audience on this journey, I think I would like to do it again. Jared wrote the screenplay like 9 years ago, but the little bubble of us who got to Atlanta to start making this movie got two weeks in, shut down, waited 6 months, and came back to finish mid-pandemic. It feels like we’ve been to war together or something, and I’m really proud we stuck it out because I’m proud of the movie and can’t wait for people to see it.
Have you been in Caleb’s shoes before, and did his predicament resonate?
Yeah, I’ve had my moments for sure. I think about Caleb all the time, because I ride my bike a lot in real life, and Caleb rides a bike everywhere. The nature of just being a young person and all this angst and romance and sex and the scares that come with the sex and testing and doctor appointments and taking of the blood, I know those feelings and am proud to be putting them on screen. I’m really proud to be talking about all this stuff in the press, to be able to talk about PrEP and how accessible it is, and a lot of people still don’t know for example that being undetectable means you’re un-transmissible and with access to healthcare you can be HIV positive and live a long, healthy, happy life. Our goal is to do away with that leftover HIV stigma and shame and spike up these conversations and how far we’ve come.
Although HIV can be a heavy topic, this film has a lot of humor, snark, and wryness. My hubby watched a bit and commented, ‘it’s like Juno with STIs,’ and in fact, Juno producers were involved! Was he spot on?
I would say that’s not that far off! It’s this really brave technique of taking something that’s an overwhelmingly huge, intense issue and making it really accessible and fun to watch, which might go against your initial instinct but if you can do it right, it ultimately becomes this insanely effective tool to spread your message.
Caleb finds some comfort, commiseration, and romance in Estha, whose Indian heritage and family admittedly brings some complications into the equation. What’s the best or worst thing about dating or connecting with someone romantically from a totally different culture when home or abroad?
I feel anytime you date someone you learn so much about how they do life. That’s the fun of meeting new people. You get to approach things from a different standpoint. I’m a big family guy, so there’s nothing more romantic than introducing someone to your family and it’s fascinating where people come from and the experiences that make them who they are.
Caleb rides a tandem bike, and I’ve got to say you rocked it. Did that come naturally for you or were bloody knees involved?
I’m a big bike rider in general so I’m pretty comfortable on a bicycle, but that tandem bike…that thing was a piece of work, honestly. It was tough but made me fall in love with it even more. I really had to work for it and by the end, I felt I had a really special connection with that bike. I understood it and felt it understood me and was pretty good at riding with people and myself.
By the way, I love your new songs in Three Months!
Thank you. I had so much fun writing them because I got to kind of go into the studio as Caleb for the day and write lyrically from his perspective, but sonically all of the references were songs I think Caleb would like and be listening to. It was really good fun.
Last April, Architectural Digest did a great video tour of your Melbourne home, and you showed off a fantastic photo book on North Korea’s hotels, which I immediately ordered online! Would you like to go there or funkier destinations, like China’s abandoned “ghost cities?”
I picked up that book in a bookstore randomly because I thought it was really interesting. I haven’t spent much time thinking about it. But I’ve spent quite a lot of time in China. I really loved going. I would be so curious to go to Eastern Europe, because my family is Lithuanian and I feel it’s a whole part of the world I’ve not explored. It feels like another planet to me.
Have you heard of Kristian Kostov? He’s basically your Bulgarian-Russian counterpart, super talented, but lives in a rabidly homophobic culture. Please promise me you’ll take him for coffee or to a gay bar if you ever meet him!
I am def going to check this out. Thank you for that.
Your video for “Rager Teenager” takes place in a spa/pool. Are you a fan of spas and saunas, and if so, what kinds do you like best? Korean? Onsen? Gay?
I have not [been to a Korean spa]. There’s one in L.A. that everyone loves, and I haven’t been to it. But I love a steam room. I have terrible, terrible sinus problems so I steam a lot. I have a steamer and if I can’t make it to a steam room I steam at home. But I’m kind of bad at relaxing, it’s something I need to actively work on. Getting massages and stuff makes me kind of anxious. Maybe it points to a deeper issue. I need to get better at doing that.
You played Wolverine as a boy, and Marvel will soon reintroduce the X-Men into the MCU since Disney bought the rights back from Fox. Have you auditioned for an MCU movie yet, and would you be into playing an LGBTQ Marvel superhero, like Hulkling, Northstar, or X-Men’s Iceman?
I have not auditioned for a Marvel character since Wolverine. Yeah, I’m so down. I love superheroes and Wolverine was such a fun experience to me as a 13-year-old, so I would definitely be open to that conversation.
You famously attended last year’s Met Gala and shared a photo on Instagram of yourself taking a pee that Tom Daley snapped. What was the best thing in the Met Gala goodie bag?
Did they give us a goodie bag? I’m sure if they gave one it would have been a really good goodie bag, so I hope I didn’t miss out! You know, I’ve heard about people doing it at the Gala that I’m going to next time, and me saying this might get me uninvited, I just want to steal a knife or a fork. Just to be able to show my kids and be like, “this was from the Met Gala when your dad used to go.”
Now for the deepest, most profound, important question of the interview. Which city has the hottest guys?
Oh my god. Melbourne, probably. It’s my home, I feel very relaxed when I’m there and people put me at ease there.
Melbourne’s also a serious coffee city. Where should visitors get some and take in the eye candy?
I think they should go to Gertrude Street in Fitzroy. There’s a bunch of really good cafes there.
What about a favorite store?
I got a lot of the furniture in my house from a shop called Smith Street Bazaar, and it’s a really nice vintage homewares store.
You’ve collaborated on music with great folks including Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, Broods, Lauv a.k.a. Ari Leff, and Jónsi of Sigur Ros. Who would you love to work with but haven’t yet?
So many. I’m working on an HBO drama series at the moment with The Weeknd, The Idol, and I’d love to make some music with him one day, but I’m too nervous to say that out loud to him!