Matthew Bomer: Handsome in WHITE COLLAR

Source: Dish Magazine
Date: November 1, 2009

USA Network has built its brand with characters, starting with the neurotic Monk, and quickly adding Psych, Burn Notice, and Royal Pains to the roster. Now, the network has added White Collar a smart and sophisticated crime-action series featuring the unlikely partnership of a career criminal and a career FBI agent.

White Collar stars Tim DeKay as senior FBI agent Peter Burke, Tiffani Thiessen as his all-suffering wife Elizabeth, Matt Bomer as the white collar criminal Neal Caffrey, and Willie Garson, as his secret partner Mozzley.

Bomer, who turned 32 recently, has several small screen credits, including a lead role on the ABC series Traveler (Jay Burchell), a part in the FOX series Tru Calling (Luc Johnston), and a recurring role on the NBC series Chuck (Bryce Larkin).

“I’d like to go back to Chuck,” Bomer told Dish recently. “But a lot of things would have to fall into place with that character. I had a lot of fun with that character and that cast and that incredible group of people.”

He adds, “But one of the great things working with U.S.A. is they do such a good job creating great characters and to get to inherently have that permission in your performance is really a boost to your confidence.”

His new role, as art thief and embezzler Neal Caffrey, begins in prison. After a two year investigation, FBI agent Peter Burke caught up with him and put him away for four years. But 5 days before his scheduled release, he escapes. Why?

Bomer explains, “Ultimately, underneath it all, he’s searching for this girl, Kate, and that’s really his ultimate motivation. So I think that’s another thing that kind of brings him a little bit more down to earth, and he’s just not this perfect suave, cool guy. He actually has a lot of flaws as well.”

Before long, Peter catches Neal again, putting him back in prison for another four year sentence. But Neal has another idea. Release him from prison, and he’ll help the FBI find other hard-to-catch criminals, especially the Dutchman. Peter reluctantly agrees, but requires Neal to wear an ankle bracelet that restricts his range to 2 miles, so he doesn’t escape again.

Quite the bon vivant, Neal’s unhappy in his $700 a month dumpy hotel room the FBI has rented for him. But soon, he encounters June, played by the beautiful and ageless Diahann Carroll in a recurring role. Seduced by his beauty and charm, she invites him to live in a spare room in her million dollar mansion. Says Bomer, “One of the best moments for me in the pilot was we’re on a rooftop, and I have a scene with Diahann Carroll. And there is Diahann Carroll, right? You’re doing a scene with her at a table with real food, which is always good, and in the background is the Empire State Building and just this beautiful skyline. And it’s one of those moments where you just have to step back as an actor and say, ‘Hmm, this is pretty cool.’ So that’s like — that is my quintessential moment in New York City.”

Dish asked Bomer if he was as suave as Neal Caffrey in real life. He replied, “I think there are a lot of differences between Neal Caffrey and I. I think that the biggest one is he really enjoys the rich life, the good life. I’m more a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, who goes out to dinner on weekends or goes and catches a movie.”

He adds that “I have a lot of people that are helping me with the wardrobe or I would be lost. I think, inherently, when you take on a character you take little parts of them into your daily life to just to try and get it into your body, so I’ve been walking around with a fedora to just kind of see what its like and test those waters.”

The entire cast has expressed their love of working in NY, and Bomer agrees heartily, “It’s an unbelievable blessing to get to shoot there. Inherently New York just becomes a character and a fixture in the show. It has a mood and a tone to the city that you can’t find or replicate anywhere else. But, he adds, laughing, “It’s always great to get cursed out by people when you’re blocking their crosswalk — which happened multiple times.”

Neal has a secret sidekick that Peter and the rest of the FBI know nothing about, Muzzley, played by the fabulous Willie Garson. “I think one of the really exciting things about his character, not only is he my, kind of, underground informant, he’s also my connection to Kate. He knows her. He’s the only person I have who is from that world as well, who I can rely on and trust and get information from.”

Garson (Sex and the City), who was present during the interview adds, “Something I personally can’t stand about television, but is that — what was very attractive about the script is that all the characters are as intelligent as each other.”

Bomer thinks his character also has great respect for his friend and nemesis, Peter,” I think Neal has a complete respect for Peter and his intelligence. He’s caught him twice, which already puts him in a place of ‘O.K.’ This guy knows – he knows his job well.”

But still, Bomer describes his character as a 4-year old, saying “I think, like any 4-year-old, you’ve got to hold their hand when they’re in the parking lot, or sometimes there has to be structure; they have to be reined in, or it’s going to be complete chaos.”

He adds, “He’s got an inside track. Neal’s definitely got an inside track, a whole other way of looking at the pieces of the puzzle. I think when you’re a social engineer, which is how I prefer to call it, a social engineer — the way you get to something might be a little bit more liquid and circuitous than the way that the law may be a little bit more rigid.”

So what can we expect? “One of the things they will do a lot is they will be sending me in undercover. That’s going to happen quite often. So that’s going to be a pretty decent-size premise for the show,” Bomer said.

“With fake mustaches?” someone asked.

“There you go! Bomer replied.

Watch for USA’s new original series WHITE COLLAR Friday’s at 10/9c