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Fellow Travelers Creator Says Matt Bomer & Jonathan Bailey Had Instant Spark

'Fellow Travelers' Creator Says Matt Bomer & Jonathan Bailey Had Instant Spark

Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey in a still from 'Fellow Travelers.'
Courtesy of Showtime

The much-anticipated miniseries premieres tonight!

Ahead of tonight’s premiere of the sexy queer political thriller Fellow Travelers, creator Ron Nyswaner opened up about the palpable chemistry between leads Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey.

Based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel Fellow Travelers, the Showtime limited series chronicles the forbidden romance between two very different men that begins in McCarthy-era Washington and spans across time all the way to the AIDs crisis of the 1980s. According to the official synopsis, “Bomer plays charismatic Hawkins Fuller, who maintains a financially rewarding, behind-the-scenes career in politics. Hawkins avoids emotional entanglements – until he meets Tim Laughlin (Bailey), a young man brimming with idealism and religious faith.“

In an interview with PinkNews, Nyswaner revealed that the two actors had instant chemistry that he could feel even over Zoom. “When Matt and Johnny did a chemistry read, Johnny was in London and Matt was in the United States, so they were continents apart on Zoom pretending to be sitting on a park bench next to each other,” he said. “It was just obvious that we had to see these two people play these roles, [it was] self-evident.”


Nyswaner said that the two actors were able to use the chemistry between them and their friendship when acting in intimate scenes in the film. “They really, really, really liked each other,” he explained. “Matt and Johnny really [had] the spark between them as friends and there was a warmth between them they then used in their relationship as actors.”

LGBTQ+ shows often face censorship when trying to include queer sex scenes, but Nyswaner said that didn’t happen with Fellow Travelers. “The president of Fremantle [US, Danta Di Loreato] said to me ‘let’s make a show that makes straight men want to have gay sex?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go for that’. And then Showtime just said: ‘Push it, go for it. Don’t hold back’. There was no pressure at all.”

The eight-part series is full of steamy sex scenes and an exploration of shifting power dynamics between the two leads and while they’re tantalizing, the 67-year-old creator said that they all serve a greater purpose in the story. “The actors were so committed to telling the story of Fellow Travelers and being absolutely present every moment,” he said. “Of course we had intimacy coordinators there to make people safe. Every sex scene in our show moves the story forward. We have a love story that is wrapped in a political thriller.”

Nyswaner explianed that Bomer and Bailey “trusted me and they trusted the script” when it came to filming the sex scenes. “They were all committed to the same thing. Let’s make this a great scene about the story,” he revealed. “Once you do that then it’s just a matter of people wearing protective things in certain places and, you know, clearing the set.”

Fellow Travelers will premiere on Paramount+ with Showtime on October 27 and on Showtime for cable on October 29 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Ariel Messman-Rucker

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.

Ariel Messman-Rucker is an Oakland-born journalist who now calls the Pacific Northwest her home. When she’s not writing about politics and queer pop culture, she can be found reading, hiking, or talking about horror movies with the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network.