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Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey Talk Fellow Travelers Sex Scenes: ‘It Was the Right Time in Our Careers to Lean Into Something Like This’ — Watch Video

When it comes to depicting physical intimacy, there isn’t much that Showtime’s Fellow Travelers shies away from.

The limited series follows the decades-long love affair between charismatic bureaucrat Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller (played by Matt Bomer) and the deeply religious Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey). From the moment the two first meet at the height of McCarthyism in 1950s Washington, D.C., there are sparks — which passionately translate into the bedroom. In their sex scenes, the power dynamics between Hawk and Tim are on full display: Hawk is often in charge and telling Tim what to do, memorably instructing Tim to suck his toe in the series premiere.

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“We were very united from the get-go, and I think, luckily, both Matt and I have had enough experience of telling sort of intimate stories to know what’s required of them,” Bailey tells TVLine in the above video interview. “And so, it felt [like] it was the right time in both of our careers, I think, to be able to really lean into something like this and to not be phased by it and to know how to offer support but also how to trust.”

Fellow Travelers Sex Scene
Fellow Travelers Sex Scene

Bomer echoes the sentiment, describing Bailey as a “brilliant actor,” whom he “trusted him implicitly” while shooting.

“We made a deal from the get-go that we were going to look out for each other in all of the scenes,” Bomer says. “What was amazing was watching him bring the work to set every day and then just letting it all happen on camera for the first time, and letting these characters be vulnerable with each other on camera for the first time, and trying not to overthink it or talk about it too much, but hopefully presenting it in a way that it would be alive while the cameras were rolling.”

But as the love scenes evolve to become just that — love scenes — “emotional intimacy is the thing that is harder to achieve, I think,” Bailey notes. “And they’re such vital moments of storytelling, which I love, but it was all on the page. So nothing was a real surprise, and you couldn’t wish for a better partner to dive in.”

Fellow Travelers Sex Scene
Fellow Travelers Sex Scene

During filming, Bailey also found that an “us and them” dynamic developed between him and Bomer, who would whisper things to each other in between shots, and the rest of the creative team.

“You’re just so bonded by it, and there’s a whole different layer of intimacy and nuance in what we communicate to ourselves without talking to directors and the writer,” Bailey shares. “I think that’s what’s caught on film. And film is so extraordinarily, isn’t it, because if you just get one moment that’s new and fresh and discovered, then that can just sell a romance. So that’s why I think it was really lovely that we got to do that together.”

But what did the two actors whisper to each other on set during those scenes?

“‘What’s for lunch?'” Bailey jokes, before cheekily adding, “‘A toe?!'” (Well played, sir!)

New episodes of Fellow Travelers drop Fridays on Paramount+ With Showtime, then air Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime. Press PLAY above to watch the interview and stay tuned to TVLine for more from our chat with Bomer and Bailey.

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