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Troye Sivan starring in the coming-of-age dramedy “Three Months.”

Written by on February 21, 2022

Troye Sivan starring in the coming-of-age dramedy “Three Months.”

Australian pop star and queer icon Troye Sivan is stepping into his first leading film role in nearly a decade, starring in the coming-of-age dramedy “Three Months.”

Loosely based on the life of writer and director Jared Frieder, the film is set in 2011 and centers on a gay South Florida teen, Caleb, who learns he was exposed to HIV the week before his high school graduation. After being told by a doctor that he must wait three months for a test to be able to detect the virus in his system, Caleb spends his summer awaiting the results and contemplating love, friendship and family.

“The message of the movie, ultimately, is that no matter what, Caleb is going to be OK, because these days, HIV-positive people with access to health care live long, healthy, beautiful, happy lives,” Sivan told NBC News. “That is something that I don’t think people talk about enough.”

Frieder agreed, stressing that one of the film’s central messages is that HIV is “no longer a death sentence when you have access to medical care.”

“It was important to continue that dialogue and conversation in that way,” he said. However, he added that while “we have advanced medically,” in terms of the “stigma and shame around the disease, we still have a lot of work to do.”

While HIV incidence has been declining in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men who have sex with men account for nearly 70 percent of the new HIV diagnoses in the country. This is part of the reason Sivan, who came out publicly as gay in 2017, said he can understand the anxiety Caleb feels following his exposure.

“I’m surrounded by almost exclusively queer people and tons of gay men, and the thought of losing friend after friend … it’s just the most awful thing that I can imagine,” Sivan, 26, said, referring to the early days of the HIV crisis. “And so even though we know how far we’ve come medically and scientifically, that is still hardwired into all of our heads. So part of the effort of this movie is to kind of dispel some of that and relax some of that, because we just aren’t there anymore.”

But while we’ve come a long way when it comes to the HIV crisis, Frieder said we’ve been going back in time when it comes to Florida, where he’s from and where the film was shot.

 “It was a really challenging place at times to grow up as a queer kid because of the backward culture experience of that state and how it treats gay kids,” he said.

He referred to a new bill that is making its way through the Florida legislature: the Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. The measure would prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the states’ primary schools.

“It reminds me of why it was so important to tell the story in Florida as a Florida story, to shoot in Florida, because there is still so much work to be done,” Frieder said.

Another important decision for Frieder, he added, was to cast a gay actor to play the lead character.

“Giving queer actors and gay actors the opportunity to play themselves and people who identify like them on screen is very important,” he said. “We have such a talented group of up-and-coming LGBTQ+ actors out there, and it’s time to allow them to shine, to work and share their stories.”

In addition to being the star of “Three Months,” Sivan also recorded two original songs for the film — a process that he said felt like stepping into a time machine.

“This was after we had finished filming, and it sounds weird, but I was missing Caleb,” Sivan said. “So I got to get back into the headspace and pretend I was Caleb and pretend I was 17 and be like, ‘OK, it’s 2011. What am I listening to?’”

When asked about his preference between music and acting, Sivan said acting is something he’s only just starting to get comfortable with.

“With music, you get these constant sorts of thumbs-ups along the way. You play your first show and people show up and they sing along to the songs, and you’re like, ‘Oh, wait, maybe I’m like on to something here,’” Sivan said. “Whereas with acting, you sort of disappear onto a set and hole up for however long to make the thing.”

Sivan — who said it still feels “strange” and surreal that he’s promoting a film that he’s starring in — is not planning to put the brakes on his acting career anytime soon. He is set to star in the upcoming HBO series “The Idol,” created by The Weeknd and “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson.

“It’s been really, really, really fun for me. And yeah, I don’t want it to end,” Sivan said. “If I have an off day and I’m just chilling, I might just like go to set anyways because I like it so much.”

And as for a third studio album, Sivan said it’s on the horizon.

“Once I’m finished with ‘The Idol,’ I will really, really get cracking on that,” he said.

“Three Months” premieres Feb. 23 on Paramount+.

Three Months also stars Viveik Kalra, Brianne Tju, Ellen Burstyn, Judy Greer, Javier Munoz, Louis Gossett, Jr. and Amy Landecker.


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