After conquering the music world, pop superstar Lil Nas X is testing the realm of movie stardom. He’s in Toronto — attending a film festival for the first time — for the world premiere of his documentary “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero.”
The screening was delayed because of a bomb threat from a homophobic caller, but despite that scare, the mood in the Roy Thomson Theater was jubilant as the documentary finally began to play around 10:30 p.m.
During a brief Q&A following the premiere, Nas, a consummate entertainer and comedic force to be reckoned with, admitted he was a reluctant documentary subject. “I’m going to be honest. I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this at all. This is a terrible idea.’ But then I was like, ‘Fuck it, let’s do it anyway.’ I hate people knowing about my life because I can’t keep my funny persona. Now people know I’m all serious.” In the end, he came around to the idea. “I’m happy I did,” he said.
Wearing sky-high heels and a slick black suit, Nas teased that he’s working on “good, fire ass music” and expressed a desire to experiment with genres like folk and Brazilian funk. He also hinted at expanding his talents beyond the mic. Would he direct a feature film? “Oh, there’s gonna be something that happens,” he coyly added.
Nas, whose real name is Montero Lamar Hill, is one of the biggest stars at the 48th edition of TIFF. Most of the talent from this year’s lineup of films isn’t at the festival because of the twin labor strikes that have left actors and screenwriters on the picket lines. With the exception of some projects that were granted interim agreements, which allows the talent to engage in publicity efforts, A-listers like Seth Rogen and Pete Davidson (“Dumb Money”), Anna Kendrick (“Woman of the Hour”), Nicole Kidman (“Expats”) and Natasha Lyonne (“His Three Daughters”) aren’t able to walk the red carpet or promote their films.
Carlos López Estrada and Zac Manuel directed “Long Live Montero,” a fly-on-the-wall look at the artist’s first global tour. In 2019, he instantly shot to fame with the supremely catchy “Old Town Road,” blending the barriers of country and hip hop and making history in the process. The song debuted on the top of Billboard charts and remained at No. 1 for 19 consecutive weeks, the longest-running chart topper ever. He followed that with hits like “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” “Industry Baby” and “That’s What I Want,” all anthems that are unapologetically bold, queer and provocative.
“I think it means a lot for people to publicly support me,” Nas said on stage. “It makes people view you differently — especially straight men. You like Lil Nas X. You must be gay or something.“
Prior to the film’s premiere Nas told Variety he hopes the documentary represents him “do(ing) my best to make the ceiling unreachable to where we can go as Black queer people.” He adds that he isn’t concerned about the reception for “Long Live Montero.” “This is one of the only times in my life where I am releasing something and I have absolutely zero expectations for it,” he said. “I’m just like, whatever happens, happens. But, you know, I hope everybody loves it. I hope everybody fucks with it.”
Since it’s a film festival, after all, Nas offered a little insight into his taste in cinema. He cited 1989’s “Back to the Future Part II” as his favorite movie, but he likes to watch “anything to do with time travel. I’m obsessed with time. You can’t get that back.” He turned to the audience. “Guys, that’s deep. You have to clap!”
Someone in the crowd then took the opportunity to ask Nas to hang out. “You know what?” the musician responded, deflecting the question. “Time is, like, precious.”
Let’s go with… not right now.
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