Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff became got super, duper, close to each otehr during their time in Broadway’s Spring Awakening.
The former costars, who starred as ill-fated teenage lovers Wendla and Melchior in the 19th-century coming-of-age story, were learning about their bodies on and off stage during their time in the hit musical, which premiered in New York in 2006.
“Jonathan and I became so close. We were so intertwined,” Michele, 35, says in the HBO documentary Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known, which airs May 3.
Spring Awakening, which features a Tony Award-winning score by “Barely Breathing” songwriter Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, explores angst-ridden teenagers’ inner thoughts through alternative rock music.
Wendla Bergmann, played by a then 19-year-old Michele, yearns to learn more about her maturing body and her sexual desires. When her mother cannot provide the answers, she turns to the radical Melchior Gabor (Groff, then 21), who takes her virginity and encourages her to listen to her urges. In the show, Michele and Groff engaged in an intimate sex scene at the culmination of the show’s first act, with both getting partially naked on stage.
“We made out so hard in this play. We would have like sweat, and snot was coming out of my nostrils, and saliva, and tongues, and mouths,” says Groff, 37, who explains in the documentary that he was learning about his own sexual identity at the time, before coming out as gay.
“Lea and I were given this material where we had to fall in love,” says Groff. “But the first thing I felt was, ‘They’re going to know I’m gay. F—. I never had sex with a girl, I’m in the closet. I’m just going to pretend that I know what I’m doing.’ I wanted the choreography to tell me what to do and give me the moves and allow me to express myself, and thank God for [director] Michael Mayer.”
Michele says that she and Groff became so close throughout their time in the show that they would hang out after the curtain came down. “At one point, I literally showed him my whole vagina,” Michele candidly says in the documentary.
“I can confirm that,” says Groff.
Adds Michele, “He was like, ‘I’ve never seen a woman’s vagina before. Would you show me?’ And I was like, ‘Sure.’ And I took a desk lamp … and showed him. That’s how close we are…. But I’ve never seen Jonathan naked. I’ve never seen his penis.”
In an interview with PEOPLE ahead of the documentary’s premiere, Michele explains, “I’m so grateful that we connected in the way that we did so that we were then able to go on the stage and then have that level of trust.”
She adds, “If we didn’t, I think it would’ve been really impossible and just so challenging to have to tackle that material every night with someone that you don’t feel that safety and trust with. We had to be in love, and it just so happened that we met to do this show, but I feel like we would’ve met some way or another in life. Because we were meant to be in each other’s lives.
“I felt so safe with him every night. And it was hard doing those scenes, [including] the beating scene. I talk about it in the documentary. The character of Wendla was such an honor to play and as an actor, this is such great material, but it’s still hard to have to go there every night, and I couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for Jonathan.”
This is TMI. Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known will debut May 3 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.