It felt like Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, dropped the new single “This Is America” out of thin air when he simultaneously debuted the song on Saturday Night Live and premiered its buzzed-about, thinkpiece-eliciting video.
Glover, it turns out, had been working on the politically charged track at least since his new film Solo: A Star Wars Story wrapped production in October.
“He played ‘This Is America’ one night shoot, outside the Millennium Falcon,” Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) revealed to Yahoo Entertainment at the film’s Los Angeles press junket (watch above). “And we were like, ‘Dude. In all seriousness, I think that’s going to be, like, successful. I think it’s gonna be a hit.’”
Yeah, they were right. Not only has the video (which features startling images of gun violence) racked up more than 122 million views on YouTube alone, but the song itself debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart.
Glover is famously cagey when it comes to speaking about his music and has been especially reticent when it comes to his latest release. He delivered a predictably jokey response when we asked him if he looked for any feedback from his co-stars in the new Star Wars prequel.
“Originally it was called ‘This Is Antarctica,’” Glover deadpanned. “And they were like, ‘No one lives there.’”
Said Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), who joined Glover for interviews, dryly: “But we brainstormed. And we got you there in the end.”
Paul Bettany (Avengers) was not there the night Glover gave his castmates a sneak peek, but he is certainly a fan — both of the video and of Glover himself.
“I think it’s a piece of art masquerading as pop culture. It’s so moving and brilliant furious,” he said. “I didn’t get to work with him on this, but I saw him the other night at the Met Gala and I was so intimidated, I couldn’t go up and talk to him.
“And then I talked to him yesterday and he was really lovely.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens May 25.
Watch Emilia Clarke blush over Brad Pitt’s $120,000 bid to watch an episode of Game of Thrones with her:
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