Shawn Mendes gave fans a peek into his heart and who he truly is in his powerful new Netflix documentary In Wonder.
The film, which follows Mendes on his nine-month world tour and the subsequent making of his upcoming album, Wonder, highlighting his journey toward self-discovery, his career’s physical and emotional demands and how he channeled it all into creativity.
In honor of Mendes’ vulnerability throughout the documentary, we’ve compiled his most truthful moments. See them below.
1. “Everything’s about you”
While Mendes was heating up the stages worldwide, he was also developing a relationship with “Señorita” collaborator Camila Cabello. Tender moments of young love were weaved in throughout In Wonder, especially as the duo prepared for their steamy performance at the 2019 VMAs. “She was always there to look out for me as a human being,” Mendes said of his girlfriend and fellow singer. “She’s got my back, and I think that’s what your partner is for.”
“We were in New York and a song comes on the radio or something, and the fact comes up that it’s about her,” he recalled in perhaps one of the sweetest moments of the film, “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s about you. Everything’s about you. They’ve always been about you.’ She goes, ‘What do you mean?’ I’m like, ‘They’re all about you. Like, every song I ever wrote.’ She literally had no idea. This whole time I thought she knew. I don’t think I’ll be able to write songs that do it justice, that can really capture the things and feelings with her.”
2. How his childhood friend Brian Craigen helps him stay grounded
Craigen joined his superstar friend for the entire tour, something Mendes shared immense gratitude for. “I’m so lucky to have a friend like Brian,” he explained. “He works hard at keeping me in the real world. Without him, I don’t know. I’d probably be, like, pretty crazy. He just connects me with friends from home.”
“I’m probably closer with my friends from home now than ever,” he added. “They were all supporting me from the first time ‘Life of the Party’ came out, and now we’re here together. I want them to look around and be proud of it and be like, ‘This is just as much ours as it is his. Look guys, we made it. How beautiful is this?’”
3. Pickering, Ontario
At one point in In Wonder, Mendes returns to his hometown in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. He has a home-cooked meal courtesy of his mom, and picks up his younger sister Aaliyah and the two drive to a soccer field where the “Treat You Better” singer would hang out with his friends.
“When he first started singing, he wasn’t the greatest,” Aaliyah, playing the classic mischievous sister role, said with a laugh of her older brother. “I was like, ‘OK, whatever, let’s see where this goes.’ It was just constant noise at my house. So annoying, like, it was awful. I asked him if he wanted to be famous one day, and he shut the whole idea down so fast. He was like, ‘No, I don’t want to be famous. It seems awful.’”
When Shawn came over to give his sister a big hug, he said that he doesn’t remember that conversation, but “obviously changed my mind.”
Mendes believes deeply in the law of attraction, and showed off his manifestation journal where he wrote down affirmations like, “I control my brain and my voice. I sing with no tension. My chest voice is strong and healthy.”
He showed Cabello an affirmation he wrote before his big show at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, noting that he would sell out the stadium. Fast-forward two weeks later, days before his sold out show, and Mendes is reveling in how his dreams came true. “That’s why this s— works, because I wrote it in my manifestation journal,” he said.
5. Rogers Centre show
Mendes’ hometown stadium has a capacity of 53,506, one of the biggest shows he has ever played. “On the street, the coffee guys says he’s coming to the show. My door guy at the condo’s like, ‘I’m coming to the show,'” the singer shared. “This is a real family thing. This isn’t like, you’re playing your biggest show of all time. It’s more like, ‘This is incredible. We’re in his hometown. There’s so much love surrounded, he’s playing a show.’ It also happens to be the biggest stadium in the country.”
6. “If I tell the world that I’m just a normal human, are they going to stop coming to the shows?”
Even a superstar that plays the biggest venues in the world surrounded by adoring fans misses home sometimes. “We’re on a 104-show tour and half of me right now is like, ‘Make sure you say you’re grateful,’ because I am. In the biggest way, I’m so grateful. I love these performances,” he shared after a clip of a difficult performance in London, where Mendes voice began to give out and he became increasingly hard on himself. “I’ve never had more fun in my life, but I also want to hang with my parents and watch movies, drive around a suburb, lay on a soccer field, smoke a joint and stare at the stars with my friends and, like, eat some beef jerky. Really small-town thoughts. I think that I miss that a little bit right now.”
“It’s pretty intense all the time,” he continued. “I really think about that a lot. If I tell the world that I’m just a normal human, are they going to stop coming to the shows and listening to the music and is all the craziness going to stop? Then you’re like, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t tell them. I should keep the trick up. Maybe I should pretend I’m Superman for a little bit longer.”
7. Mendes cancels his São Paulo, Brazil show
After struggling with a vocal strain, the star and his team made the difficult decision to cancel the concert as to not permanently damage Mendes’ voice. The singer, understandably, took the news incredibly hard and a heartbreaking scene follows of Mendes crying on the phone with his mom.
“Aw, babe, I’m sorry. It was a great show last night,” she sweetly assures her son as he wipes away tears. “They got to see you there, babe. It wasn’t like you haven’t been there. They’ve seen you. They’ve experienced it. It wasn’t like you’ve never been there. You told me you were sick. You had a bad voice, but you never told me it was that serious. It’s fine, you’re fine. It’s not the end of the world, babe. Take a breath. You can’t help it.”
8. Chanting outside his hotel
Shawn’s Brazilian fans showed love for the singer, despite the cancellation, in a heartwarming way. “When we got to the hotel, and I was up in my room,” the singer recalled of the moment where he heard fans shouting “Eu te amo” outside his hotel. “I was so upset with the situation, and then I heard chanting from outside. I opened up my window, and there were 2,000 people in the streets chanting and that is beautiful. Right then in that moment I was like, ‘I can’t even believe how good people are.’ Just a really beautiful thing.”
9. Why Mendes made Wonder
“The heaviness of the tour in a lot of ways made me want to flip things around and become more positive, you know?” the star shared during the writing sessions for his upcoming album. “And I’m writing about anxiety more as a companion that I have to live with and less of an enemy that I’m trying to resist.”
10. “I’m just a guy who really loves music”
Upon reflecting on his wild nine-month tour, Mendes admitted that he’s “realizing this is something I want to do for the rest of my life.”
“How do you get to the end of a very, very intense year and want to do it all over again?” he continued. “I wish, at the end of this tour, I had some profound thing to say about all this, but you know what the truth is? You walk up on the stage and you look around and you think, ‘I’m just a guy who really loves music. Time to let go.’”