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‘Fellow Traveler’ Stars Matt Bomer & Jonathan Bailey On Show’s Sex Scenes, More


Fellow Travelers stars Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey waded into the sex-scenes debate at Deadline Contenders TV event Saturday. The actors got intimate on the set as characters Hawk and Tim in the Showtime limited series based on Thomas Mallon’s book that follows their love affair in the 1950s.

“I just feel like the characters were never the same after the scenes as they were before, which to me is always a sign that it’s integral to the story,” said Bomer, who plays Hawk. “The way they connected was so reflective of their societal conditions. It was therapeutic. It’s not always the most comfortable thing, but it was always an extension of their relationship.”

Bailey, who plays Tim, said the characters could not be open about their sexuality in the ‘50s. So their love scenes became the only place they truly could be themselves.

“They exist in a world where they can’t communicate freely,” Bailey said. “Everything is robbed. Communication comes down to actual chemical microbe shifts. These characters can’t otherwise express themselves. When they do come together, they are fighting for love. Tim experiences something he’s never felt.”

As for portraying those scenes together, Bailey said, “You want a scene partner like Matt because he never put a foot wrong.”

Bomer agreed, “Same, Johnny, same.”

Ron Nyswaner, who created Fellow Travelers and serves as showrunner and writer, said it was important to him that the characters be played by out actors, and not only Bomer and Bailey. Five gay characters are played by out actors, and four executive producers and two directors also LGBTQ.

“Our characters are not the gay neighbor, or it’s not like we think that character might be gay,” Nyswaner said. “They are as in-your-face homosexual as you can possibly be, and I mean in your face literally — or in their faces, I should say. The boldness of the show, I think, has to do with my pent-up frustration of many years of saying, ‘I’m not hiding anything anymore.’”

Nyswaner acknowledged that he couldn’t ask an actor their sexual preference in an audition, but his executive producer had a foolproof system.

“Robbie Rogers would look up people’s Instagram accounts and say, ‘They follow me, they’re gay,’” Nyswaner said.

RELATED: Ron Nyswaner Talks About The History, Politics And Sex In “Fellow Travelers” — And What It Means For Today’s LGBTQ Movement

Bomer became an executive producer on Fellow Travelers. He said Nyswaner gave him the book to read early in the pandemic.

“I want to put my voice behind it however I can,” Bomer said. “I wanted to lend my voice, find the right people to work with in all departments and use whatever relationships I had to try to get it made.”

Nyswaner said the film’s portrayal of persecution under Sen. Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn makes Fellow Travelers a cautionary tale that remains unfortunately relevant with the potential re-election of Donald Trump.

RELATED: Ron Nyswaner To Be Honored With WGA East’s Walter Bernstein Award

“There is a potential demagogue who might be in charge of our country in a few months,” Nyswaner said. “His mentor, Roy Cohn, is a major character in Fellow Travelers. The destruction of lives, of thousand of lives, under the power that McCarthy and Cohn had. McCarthy wasn’t even the president. That’s a demonstration of what might happen if we don’t protect our fragile democracy.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.



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