Matt Bomer Says He and Jonathan Bailey Are 'Bonded for Life' After Toe-Sucking Scene in “Fellow Travelers” (Exclusive)

The actor told PEOPLE at SCAD TVFest that he and his costar have "a very sacred friendship" after portraying a couple on the Showtime series

<p>Gregg DeGuire/Variety via Getty</p>

Gregg DeGuire/Variety via Getty

'Fellow Travelers' stars Jonathan Bailey (left) and Matt Bomer

Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey play lovers in Fellow Travelers, and the costars got real close — partly due to a scene in which the Bridgeton star sucks on Bomer’s toe.

“We are bonded for life, for sure, as friends after having gone through this together,” Bomer, 46, told PEOPLE on Wednesday at the 2024 SCAD TVFest in Atlanta. “So it's a very sacred friendship for me. I love Jonathan.”

As for whether Bomer would return the gesture for Bailey, 35, the actor quips, “That wasn't in the script! We did what was in the script.”

Related: Wilson Cruz on How Fellow Travelers Takes Viewers on a Journey from Shame to Pride (Guest Essay)

Fellow Travelers, based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel by the same name, follows the relationship of two gay men who fight for their love amid the Lavender Scare of the 1950s in Washington D.C. through the ‘80s.

Although the story takes place decades ago, Bomer has found viewers of all ages relate to his character Hawk and Bailey’s Skippy.

“On the street, it's been really multi-generational,” Bomer, who received The Hollywood Reporter’s Trailblazer Award at the SCAD TVFest, said of the show’s fans. “There are young people who see themselves in the story. I thought they would mostly see themselves in Skippy, but they've also seen themselves in Hawk and other characters in the story. And folks who've lived through a lot of the pieces of the story that we're telling in the show, it's resonated with them.”

<p>Courtesy of SHOWTIME</p> Matt Bomer (left) and Jonathan Bailey in 'Fellow Travelers.'

Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Matt Bomer (left) and Jonathan Bailey in 'Fellow Travelers.'

That kind of response to the series makes Bomer feel “grateful.”

“I'm so thankful we were even able to get the show made,” he continued. “The fact that it's reverberated the way it has meant the world to me.”

Fellow Travelers earned nominations at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, where Bomer also picked up nods for his individual performance. The father of three received a Screen Actors Guild nom as well for his portrayal of Hawk.

Bomer has found himself surprised by Fellow Travelers’ reception since it launched in October amid the SAG-AFTRA strike when he and his costars couldn’t promote the project.

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty</p> Matt Bomer at the 12th SCAD TVFest in Atlanta

Jason Kempin/Getty

Matt Bomer at the 12th SCAD TVFest in Atlanta

“It was strange to start the show during the strike because I didn't have any contact other than maybe an email,” Bomer recalled. “But now, it's been so incredible.”

Bailey previously described working with Bomer as “a total joy.”

"We both had quite a lot of experience in our careers of intimacy and portraying intimacy, but there's also just so much we've experienced as gay men, as well. So naturally, we had a lot to explore," he told PEOPLE. "To honor the canon of gay storytelling is totally what I set out to do.”

Related: Matt Bomer Says He Doesn't Regret Passing on the Barbie Movie: 'It Was Cast Perfectly'

The British actor sees Fellow Travelers as a hallmark of his career.

“I had looked for these gay stories, a sweeping gay love story, and I hadn't really seen them," he said of seeking out a story like the Showtime period piece. "This ticked every single box, and it's something I know I'll be proud of for the rest of my career.”

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Fellow Travelers can be streamed in full on Paramount+ with Showtime.

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