It's a story that gives whole new meaning to the phrase, "Got milk?"
After all, all it took was a glass of the dairy beverage to forever alter the lives of Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey's characters in their new show Fellow Travelers. And much like their characters Hawk and Tim, the two actors first met IRL over a glass—though they swapped in coffee.
"It all started on Cumberland Avenue," Jonathan began to E! News in an exclusive interview, with Matt chiming in to finish, "At Goldstruck Coffee in Toronto."
And as the Bridgerton actor quipped back, "We struck gold, with our Cumberland."
Indeed, it did feel like a stroke of fate for the two actors as they embarked on a journey to tell the love story of Hawk and Tim—political staffers in the Showtime limited series. The show follows the two across the decades, beginning in 1950s Washington D.C., at the height of McCarthyism and ending during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.
"It was literally the first time we had met in person; we had had a chemistry test on Zoom," Jonathan recalled. "We sat down, and it felt a sort of biblical moment actually, looking back. But at the time, it was just a really nice get to know you. And of course, when you're faced with this extraordinary task of telling these two characters' love story, that's so sort of complicated and nuanced, we just agreed that we'd support each other."
And in addition to the, as Matt put it, "pact to have each other's backs," the Normal Heart star noted, "I knew that Jonny was a tremendous actor. So, a lot of it was just trusting the work you brought to the set that day, and then working opposite a great actor."
It was an experience and a story—one equal parts romantic, heartbreaking and educational—that both Matt and Jonathan found meaning in telling.
"It's just so rare that you get to work on something that's educates you, and also provide you with such an extraordinary challenge as an actor," the White Collar actor explained. "It was just all the things that you hope for as an actor, that sometimes you get a little bit piecemeal. But to have that and all of that experience in one job was just kind of once or twice in a career if you're lucky—especially when you get this cast and the creatives we had."
Working on Fellow Travelers was, for Jonathan, a "nourishing" project to dive into, the 35-year-old remarking on how it was "just thrilling to have an opportunity to really understand the queer experience in that way, through research."
"And being able to play characters that otherwise I hadn't really seen before," he continued. "So, it felt groundbreaking, and then, unsurprisingly, completely energizing despite the real pain and anguish that these characters sort of withstand and experience—and within that, the joy that the characters find."
Much like Hawk and Tim's first encounter over milk, from meeting over a cup of coffee to wrapping their show after almost 100 days, the experience left Matt and Jonathan with an unbreakable bond—one that allowed the echoes of their real-life friendship to find its way onto the screen.
"It's amazing," Jonathan mused, "to get to know that these characters meet on a bench, sipping milk. And then, from there, this whole thing blossoms. So, we could lean into the characters' experiences and find it in the scenes. And I think by the end of the shoot, we were sort of bonded for life."
Don't miss Matt and Jonathan in Fellow Travelers which is currently airing on Showtime and streaming on Paramount+.