EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Matt Visser on his Special Journey on ‘Fellow Travelers’

Matt Visser as David Schine in FELLOW TRAVELERS, "Bulletproof.” Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/SHOWTIME.

Matt Visser stars in Showtime’s Fellow Travelers, over the course of four decades. The show follows Hawk (Matt Bomer) and Tim (Jonathan Bailey) cross paths through the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, while facing obstacles in the world and in themselves. We at Survived The Shows had the pleasure of chatting with star Matt Visser, who portrays David Schine, about his experience on Showtime’s Fellow Travelers and a lot more. 

matt visser
Matt Visser on Behind the Scenes of Fellow Travelers with Co-stars

Can you tell us a bit about your character in Fellow Travelers?

I play G David Schine of the “unholy trinity” that was Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy and himself. He was a participant in the lavender scare which aimed to get rid of “subversives” within the US government.

What initially attracted you to your role in Fellow Travelers?

First of all, just to be a part of something so powerful and special with creatives I have such an admiration for, Ron Nyswaner, Dan Minihan and Robbie Rogers, among others. For the role in particular – I was just excited to dive into playing a proper antagonist. Which seems like an oversimplification, but playing someone so ignorant and privileged was exciting to explore. David was raised with a lack of love and abundance of wealth. I was raised with the opposite. So trying to understand how that upbringing results in someone that can wilfully participate in such atrocities – was intriguing as a creative.

But! He also wasn’t written without levity and nuance. So I mean – dream come true.

What do you think makes this limited series so special and captivating?

I think its special because it honours the brave individuals that came before us and the sacrifices they made for people to live and be our true authentic selves. We see in Fellow Travellers, that throughout history – and still today in many places – it’s a privilege only afforded to some.

It’s so captivating on screen because the actors have such a profound understanding of that resilience, that bravery. So they portray it so beautifully, so honestly. Matt, Jonny, Jellani and Noah are all so incredibly deserving of the praise they are receiving and will continue to receive.

What do you hope audiences take away from watching Fellow Travelers?

That it isn’t just a reflection on the past, but should be a call to action for the future. We’re constantly so close to slipping back into hateful norms of the past when being represented by the wrong people, presidents and politicians. Fellow Travellers shows us how much damage and harm can be done when the wrong people are given too much power. This should not be lost on anyone, but unfortunately is.

I also can’t help but mention my hope for straight audiences. Those with blind spots. I have a very low tolerance for straight audiences unwilling to watch this beautiful love story because it makes them uncomfortable. To me that’s a simple litmus test. If it makes you uncomfortable, confront – in yourself – why that is. Love is love and this story in particular is so beautiful.

I’m learning a lot about people through this process.

What was it like working with the rest of the cast on set?

Incredible. They’re family to me. I’ll know and cherish them all for the rest of my life. Which is not in any way hyperbole. That time and those moments were so special. We all knew and felt it. Not to be a cynic, but I don’t know that I’ll ever experience something like that again.

What can you tease about your character Journey?

I think people just have to watch it. It’s a journey of insecurity, ignorance and the pursuit of personal / political gain over the lives and freedoms of others. Which should sound familiar.

What was your favourite scene or moment while filming Fellow Travelers?

There were many. Maybe the senate hearings? It felt so bloody real. The hundreds of extras, the flashing bulbs and the smell of the smoke when they’re being replaced. The prop cigarette smoke pluming up to the ceiling. It didn’t take any imagination to feel transported.

Can you tell us about any challenges you faced while filming Fellow Travellers and how you overcame them?

It felt daunting at times because I wanted it to be perfect. I hate talking about the sausage being made – but I just didn’t want to leave a stone unturned and I read so many books, watched so many shows. I was very hard on myself. It felt like the only way to rid myself of any fear or imposter syndrome working with people I admired so much. But, once I saw how safe and collaborative the actual set was, the scope of it all just shrunk, in the best possible way.

Can you tell us about your experiences in the tv show ‘Somewhere Between’ ?

I just remember pure gratitude and still feel that way. It was the first time I felt like someone really bet on me to be a large part of a project and that was incredibly validating.

Change of subject, What have been some of the most memorable projects you have worked on throughout your career, and why?

Apart from Fellow Travellers, the most memorable part of my career was making a nothing-budget film with my best friends. It’s called “Anacoreta“, it’ll come out this summer. Jeremy Schuetze directed it. I’ve been lucky to have such a talented best friend to learn from and enjoy that process with.

It won “Best International Feature” at the Manchester Film Festival and we’ve gotten to travel all over with it. We’re in the process of signing our distribution deals, which is an incredible blessing!

It’s been an amazing ride and we’re thrilled it’s allowing us to write and make more.

Can you tease something about your next projects?

Oh! One I’m very very excited about is Anna Kendrick’s directorial debut “Woman of the Hour”. It seemed to be a bit of a darling at TIFF this year, but none of us could attend because of the strike.

Matt Visser in Anacoreta

It’s with Anna, of course, Danny Zovatto, who is haunting and incredible… and Tony Hale, who is just – I mean – I don’t know where to start – that dude is magical. The rumours are all true.

Should land on Netflix soon!

Fellow Travelers” Season 1 with Matt Visser is available on Paramount Plus.

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