Jonathan Bailey could have gone in any direction after his runaway success as the male romantic lead in Bridgerton's second season.
But choosing to play a gay man opposite Matt Bomer in Showtime's Fellow Travelers, another romantic period drama — this one spanning the 1950s Joseph McCarthy communist trials to the 1980s AIDS crisis — was a "no-brainer" for the British actor.
"I had looked for these gay stories, a sweeping gay love story, and I hadn't really seen them," Bailey, 35, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "This ticked every single box, and it's something I know I'll be proud of for the rest of my career."
Bailey first grabbed the attention of TV viewers with his breakthrough performance as Anthony Bridgerton, the proud, surly viscount on Shonda Rhimes's sudsy Regency-era drama Bridgerton.