Lea Michele Had Feelings for Jonathan Groff Before He Identified as Gay: 'Why Can't You Love Me?'

The former Spring Awakening costars look back at their 15-year friendship in the upcoming HBO documentary celebrating the Tony Award-winning musical

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele pose at the NYC Premiere of The HBO Max Documentary "Spring Awakening: Those You've Known" at Florence Gould Hall on April 25, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/WireImage)
Photo: Bruce Glikas/WireImage

Lea Michele once had feelings for former Spring Awakening costar Jonathan Groff.

In the upcoming HBO documentary Spring Awakening: Those You've Known, the actress reveals that she was starting to fall for Groff — who played her love interest in the Tony Award-winning Broadway show — in real life shortly after they met around 15 years ago.

"Lea and I were given this material where we had to fall in love," Groff says in the documentary, airing May 3 on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.

Michele, who was 19 when Spring Awakening debuted Off-Broadway in 2006 prior to its Broadway transfer, played the naïve Wendla Bergmann to Groff's Melchior Gabor. Eager to learn more about her developing body and sexual desires, Wendla turns to Melchior for the answers — and the two develop strong feelings for one another in the process.

Spring Awakening Reunion Concert
Sarah Shatz/HBO

Life was imitating art for Michele and Groff, who were both discovering more about themselves and their sexualities both on stage and off.

"Lea and I, we were grasping onto each other, we were really in love," Groff explains in the documentary. However, he says, he was still coming to terms with his sexual identity.

"Coming from a religious background surrounded by the Amish, I felt… ashamed of who I was. I guess I was also afraid that if people knew who I was, they wouldn't find what I was doing believable," he says.

Unaware of his sexuality at the time, Michele — who describes Groff as a "country mouse" — says she "felt like I had to take him under my wing." She adds, "But then I fell in love with him in more ways than one."

Groff adds, "Lea and I were so young, we were still figuring out who we were. We were playing these parts, but we were working s--- out with each other."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25: Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele attend the premiere of "Spring Awakening: Those You've Known" at Florence Gould Hall on April 25, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Cindy Ord/Getty

Eventually, Michele says, "I was so in love with him." And things came to a head when she decided to make her feelings known.

"Finally, I cornered him at a party, and I said to him, 'Why don't you love me? Just love me. Why can't you love me? Date me. Love me.' And I just saw this look in his eyes, and in that moment, I knew," she says. "I realized in that moment, 'This is the end.' And I need to protect this. This is intense."

"And I never asked him again about his sexuality and it was sort of this… I think he felt safe with me because he knew that I knew and that we could be best friends, and our relationship just grew and grew to the point that we would do the show and then we would go home together. That's why Jonathan and I became so close. We were so intertwined."

These days, the two — who attended the premiere of the Spring Awakening: Those You've Known documentary Monday in New York City — are still inseparable.

RELATED VIDEO: Lea Michele Tells Jonathan Groff She'll Carry His Baby If He Wants to Be a Dad

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In an interview with PEOPLE ahead of the premiere, Michele revealed that she would be willing to be Groff's surrogate if the actor ever decides he wants to be a father.

When asked if being around Michele and her son Ever, 20 months — as well as their other Spring Awakening costars' kids — gave Groff baby fever, he responded, "Great question!"

Michele then interjected, "I'll carry your baby. I will," to which Groff asked, "You will?"

Michele said, "Hell yeah! I love being pregnant. It's so much fun."

"Good to know," Groff replied.

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.

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