TVLINE: Do you see something like Magic Mike and a growing movie career as a positive or a hindrance to your Emmy chances — as well as to White Collar‘s future?
It’s always good to get your face out there, especially if you’re working with somebody like [Magic Mike director] Steven Soderbergh. I don’t think that hurts. I certainly don’t think it’ll hurt the show. The great thing about getting to do a cable series is we’re on for six months and we’re off for six months. I’ve been trying to use my hiatus to work with filmmakers like [In Time director/writer] Andrew Niccol and Steven Soderbergh that I really believe in, in smaller roles, rather than taking a lead in something big and studio and splashy – not that Magic Mike hasn’t become studio and splashy. [Laughs] But when I signed on to do it, it was a $5 million independent movie. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to go out there and challenge yourself as an actor.
TVLINE: We don’t have to worry about you leaving White Collar any time soon, right?
No, I consider White Collar my home base. I’m so lucky to get to play a character that’s very multifaceted and the writers take risks on and never get into a staid process with. They’re always challenging themselves and, thusly, me as an actor. As long as they continue to do that, I’m happy. I love my job on White Collar. I won’t be leaving it any time soon.
TVLINE: USA Network shows tend to be written off when it comes to Emmys, because they’re considered lighter fare. Do you think that’s a fair characterization?
I don’t think it’s fair because, to me, they are dramatic shows with elements of humor. As long as that doesn’t get overly quirky or too hokey, that’s the way life is to me. I don’t know anybody who walks through life all the time in the doldrums, constantly serious and morose. But that’s become what we generalize as drama. I’m really lucky to get to work on a show that has elements of humor. But when you’re comparing that to – I won’t list anything specifically – a lot of the shows that are pretty much straight drama the entire time, it runs the risk of being categorized as something else. But I don’t really think it is.
TVLINE: Neal Caffrey has to be one of the funnest characters to play.
He is. It’s so rare, especially as a younger actor, to find a role where it’s not just one-dimensional and it’s not just a stock leading man. He is smart, intelligent, slick. He has grace under fire. He’s excellent under pressure. He’s on point. He’s firing on all cylinders. But at the same time, he’s really a 4-year-old. He has terrible impulse control. He makes really irrational decisions, especially when it comes to anything romantically-inclined. He is a hopeless romantic to a fault. … It’s a real dream of a role to get to play. More and more, as I play the role over the years, I come to find so many things in my life that I thought were futile or silly at the time, that I may have studied or read about or practiced, led up to this opportunity for me.
You can read the rest of the interview here.