The pressure was on for one pair of "Love, Simon" stars, who knew the movie and its reception with fans hinged on one big kiss in the film's final moments.
For most of the movie's run time, title character Simon (Nick Robinson) is on a quest to uncover the other gay student at school, with whom he's struck up a romantic, online relationship. In a very public plea, Simon asks his digital dream boy, nickname Blue, to meet him IRL atop a ferris wheel at a school carnival. In the end, Keiynan Lonsdale's character, Bram, reveals he's the one Simon's been looking for and they share a kiss gay moviegoers have waited ages to see in a coming-of-age movie from a major studio.
In the special features for the film's home video release -- available now on 4k, Blu-ray and DVD -- director Greg Berlanti revealed Nick and Keiynan did the kiss about 100 times to get it right, something Lonsdale was proud of in a recent interview with TooFab.
"Yeah, we did it so many times," he said with a laugh. "The cool thing was it felt right like every time, it felt like we were doing a great job each time which is really exciting. And I guess we all were very prepared to get it from as many angles, as many different times as we did because we knew it was supposed to be such a magical, special thing and it deserved to be attempted a lot of times."
Lonsdale said the pivotal lip-lock shoot took all night, but added, "It was also cool just because we did have a bunch of actors and people down there clapping and cheering just like the characters do. So it felt, it felt real."
While gay coming-of-age dramas are nothing new in indie circles, the film's release generated a lot of positive buzz for being one of the too-few mainstream movies to show teen romance from a queer POV. With June doubling as LGBTQ+ Pride month, Lonsdale said it's the perfect time for "Love, Simon" to land on home video.
"It's incredible. I think these are the kinds of things, the kind of content that we should be giving out and receiving during a month like Pride," said Lonsdale, who came out as queer himself last year. "I think it's exciting that we are able to continue to reach more people. I think it's awesome the amount that went and saw the film in cinemas and now there's going to be so many people that will get to see this film that maybe weren't even comfortable seeing it in a movie theater for obvious reasons. And now, they get to have this experience and have it be really personal and intimate and whatever they need it to be. So I think that it's really special."
Since the movie hit theaters in February, Lonsdale says he's been inundated with "amazing" fan reactions. "It's one thing for fans to say, 'Oh, I love you' or 'This is cute,' and it's a whole other feeling for them to say you and your work or this project has made me become more of who I am, and has made my parents accept me and see me or it has made me accept me and that kind of message can't even fully be relayed over a tweet or a DM, and so you know that they're doing their best to pour their heart into it because they're so thankful and I can feel that."
Londsale came out in 2017 and has cited his work on "Love, Simon" as part of the reason behind the decision. In the year since, he said he's felt newfound freedom that comes with living as his authentic self.
"I think the most important thing or one of them is that I'm free," he said. "Freedom to love yourself, freedom to love who you love and freedom to live how you dream of living and understanding that we do deserve that, each of us. It's like I found that out and not just like I knew it, you know, in my brain, but I felt it. And once I felt it, my life has never been the same and that's all I want to do, is just honor that, forever."
To all the fans out there celebrating Pride, he also gave them this parting message: "Be proud to be alive and use this time that you have to be exactly who you are and to have fun finding out who that person is because you deserve to have the most fun that anyone could ever have."
"Love, Simon" is available now on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD.