When Fellow Travelers premiered this October on Showtime, it quickly became known for a few key elements: the magnetic chemistry between its stars Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer, the tragic love story between them, and — most infamously — their many, many sex scenes.
One of those scenes that stuck with viewers came from the first episode, in which Tim, played by Bailey, asks Hawk, played by Bomer, to take him to a party. Fellow Travelers is largely set during the anti-gay “Lavender Scare” of the 1950s, so being seen together was a big risk. Naturally then, before saying yes, Hawk asks Tim to prove how much he wants to go. Long story short, Hawk’s foot ends up in Tim’s mouth.
For some actors, that kind of scene could be intimidating or even a dealbreaker. But Bailey was not only willing to do the scene, but said it was part of what convinced him the show would be a hit.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bailey described his reaction when he first read the toe-sucking scene in the script.
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“It was very, very precisely written down — it was as precise as it needed to be. I saw that as an incredible way to dissect power,” Bailey said. “I got it when I read it, and I wasn’t intimidated by it. I was just like, ‘If in the first episode that’s what we are doing, it’s going to be worth five months moving to Toronto, and it’s going to be a series that I would want to watch.’ Because not only is it incredibly complicated, not only is it really hot, it’s also something that masks as being provocative, but actually it’s really psychologically impactful and the people who get it get it.”
Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey reflect on their “most profoundly intimate love scene”
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In the same interview, Bomer echoed Bailey’s feelings, saying all of Fellow Travelers’ sex scenes served the story’s narrative arc.
“I think all those scenes were a really external representation of what was going on with these characters internally, emotionally,” Bomer said. “And for me, it was really refreshing to see the gay love scenes brought to light in a really unflinching way.”
Bailey knew viewers’ jaws would drop when they saw the scene for the first time. But that’s all intentional: “The shock and overwhelm and the tantalizing chemical combustion that happens seeing it — it’s a greater sensory experience because that’s exactly what it meant for Tim in that moment,” he said. “It captures exactly what’s going on for Hawk and Tim, hopefully, allowing the viewer to experience a bodily reaction to it in the same way, whatever that may be.”
In other words, Bailey hoped the scene made viewers as horny as the characters. Mission accomplished, boys.
All eight episodes of Fellow Travelers are now streaming on Showtime. Check out the trailer below.
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