Source: After Elton
Date: January 16, 2012

If the world doesn’t already know the face and name Matt Bomer from the highly rated USA series White Collar where he plays perfectly coiffed con artist Neal Caffrey, they surely will know him when they see him – a lot of him – in the June film release, Magic Mike or, as it’s come to be known, ‘The Stripper Movie.’

Jaw-dropping photos have been slowly leaking out into the press of a shirtless Bomer alongside his Magic Mike co-stars Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez and Matthew McConaughey but what’s it like to sit down with Bomer in person? The charismatic, genuine and, yes, better-looking-in-person Bomer gave AfterElton some one-on-one time at the recent Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour to talk the new episodes of White Collar this week as well as the plusses and minuses, so to speak, of playing a stripper alongside some of the hottest men in the business.

AfterElton.com: One thing that I love about White Collar is you really see how invested Neal is personally in this world with Peter (Tim DeKay) and the FBI and how that constantly challenges him considering who he used to be and who he is now. Do you think he’s just totally moving away from his con artist past? Can he?

Matt Bomer: What makes [series creator] Jeff Eastin a great writer is that the first two seasons Neal’s conflict was always external. ‘Where is Kate? How can I find her? How can I save her?’ And then the second season was all about, ‘How do I avenge her death and get to the bottom of what created all this?’ And this season it’s been an internal conflict. “Do I stay or do I go?” Is it nature or is it nurture? Is it fight or is it flight? And so that’s been really fun to get to play and obviously Jeff Eastin does a great job of just keeping congruity in his themes and just making every episode stay on theme [and] by the end of these six episodes, we definitely get a big cliffhanger in terms of that. He makes a decision. But I think that once Elizabeth (Peter’s wife, played by Tiffani Thiessen) became involved and he realized how personal it was getting and how the fact that he had these personal relationships could cost him in terms of this job and he might even be bringing danger into these people’s live, it made him reconsider things.

AE: And now that he has a chance of losing that ankle bracelet and truly be free I’m guessing that’s a big part of what’s to come.

MB: Yeah, it sort of comes in the vehicle of Beau Bridges, who has very specific plans for Neal’s future and that obviously affects both Neal and Peter in different ways and it sort of influences what kind of decisions he’s going to make.

AE: Okay. Will Hilarie Burton be back because your characters have such a great chemistry?

MB: Yeah. She comes back in the last two or three and they actually found a really great way to incorporate her into the story line and get her on board for like the big finale. She’s great. She’s gorgeous and a great actress and just jumped right into our world, which is not an easy one to just jump into because it’s fast-paced and we shoot really fast and she was just a blast to get to work with.

AE: Speaking of great chemistry, I think the show works, obviously because it is basically about Peter and Neal. It’s that relationship. It’s a love affair between these two guys. Do you see it that way?

MB: I see it as a really profound relationship between two people who have vastly different backgrounds, completely different skill sets, a completely different outlook on the world, but when they come together those skill sets compliment each other in such a way that they are incredibly effective. And they’re both smart enough people to understand that and respect that in the other. So there’s a mutual admiration, as well. At times it’s father-son, at times it’s big brother-younger brother, at times it’s therapist and patient, and either one of us can play either of those roles for the other. It’s very sort of Butch and Sundance at the heart of it, you know?

AE: In the second of these new episodes (airing January 24) Peter get in on the con when you guys are [undercover] at the Upper West Side school. It showed him a little more of what Neal’s world is like as a con, right?

MB: That to me is quintessential White Collar. When we’re going undercover and Peter catches Neal’s hand in the cookie jar…and instead of putting him in jail says, “Well just one cookie, not five.” That to me is sort of a classic episode of White Collar and that was a really fun one to shoot.