Matt Bomer talks ‘White Collar’ cliffhangers, ‘Now,’ being a sex symbol

Source: New York Post
Date: January 18, 2011

I’ll be honest. The only reason I started watching “White Collar” was to stare at Matt Bomer for an hour each week. But in between the flashes of flesh (which were great), there were incredible characters and a truly addictive story — so over the last two seasons, my obsession with Matt has become an all-encompassing “White Collar” infatuation, which is good news because the new season kicks off tonight.

Picking up right where we left off — with the shooting of Mozzie — the gang comes together to pull off the ultimate con, all without the FBI’s support. Then, next week, we’ll get the flashback episode Tim DeKay teased, which shows us how Neal, Peter, Mozzie and Alex came to be so irrevocably intertwined.

In anticipation of the show’s two best episodes to date, I caught up with Matt Bomer to talk about an end to the music box mythology, what it’s like being a sex symbol and how he’s managed to outfox Betty White.

PopWrap: Fans were shocked by last season’s Mozzie-shooting cliffhanger. Were you?

Matt Bomer: I didn’t see it coming at all. [Creator] Jeff Eastin has once again outdone himself – he always does. And he does again at the end of this season. I wasn’t too-too worried for Mozzie [laughs], but I thought it was great. One thing it helps with, going into this new season, is it puts another chink in Neal’s armor. Beneath all the uber confident swagger, you’ll start to see how much he cares for certain people. For me, that was a lot of fun to play.

PopWrap: When you say that the upcoming season finale is another crazy one, what do you mean?

Matt Bomer: I wish I could tell you more, but I can say that I never would have, in a million years, predicted where we end this season.

PopWrap: Hmm, ok. I got to check out tonight’s season premiere and next week’s flashback episode — how excited are you for fans to see that one?

Matt Bomer: Very. I love that they’re going to get to see the genesis of so many relationships – Neal meeting Mozzie, Neal meeting Peter. And also, something that was important to me, Kate has been such a cipher of the series. All you really know is how much Neal cares about her, so the second episode is a great way to see how they met and the beginning of their relationship. What made him love her so much.

PopWrap: The episode also sees a very dressed down Neal — was it nice to not be impeccable for a week?

Matt Bomer: [laughs] Well, I can’t really complain about Neal’s wardrobe. Also, it really affects how he moves and carries himself, so it was fun to go back in time and be less fancy, which also affected who he was and how he carried himself.

PopWrap: Playing such a fashionable character, do you feel pressure to live up to that with your real life personal appearances?

Matt Bomer: [laughs] You know, it’s precarious because I don’t want to completely bite his style, but at the same time, creating Neal’s style has been very collaborative. I will bring in magazine tears and things I printed off the internet, sharing my ideas of what he might be wearing, or looking like at any given time. Then [costume designer] Stephanie Maslansky takes that and makes it a lot better [laughs].

PopWrap: Were you always into fashion — pulling magazine tears and whatnot?

Matt Bomer: I always paid attention to what I wore, but playing Neal has heightened that for me. The show also happened as I was coming into my manhood, in some ways, so I figured it was time to up the ante with my wardrobe as well [laughs].

PopWrap: Do you think Neal trumps TV’s other suit icons like Don Draper or Barney Stinson?

Matt Bomer: That’s a hard question to answer without sounding like an a**hole [laughs] so I will say, that because of the work of Stephanie Maslansky, absolutely! She has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make Neal look as dapper and unique as possible. The kudos go to her, but yes – absolutely.

PopWrap: And yet a lot of attention is paid to how much time you spend out of those clothes — is it weird to be considered a sex symbol?

Matt Bomer: [laughs] I think as long as you understand there’s no meritocracy involved with that kind of celebration of the gene pool, you’ll be fine. My goal is to get people to watch this show that I love working on and whatever sensationalist photo or press I need to do to get people to tune in, that’s what I’ll do. Let me put it this way, I don’t see myself any differently in the mirror. I still see the flaws.

PopWrap: The first two episodes see a huge focus being put on the music box mythology, is that storyline headed for resolution?

Matt Bomer: Let me tell you this, most of the mythology we have built on the show has resolution by the end of these seven episodes. These are the seven episodes if we’re talking resolution to the music box mythology. But the great thing Jeff did is in answering those questions, he opens up all new doors, so when those close, there’s so many other places to go. To the point where, I can’t imagine what’s going to happen next season.

PopWrap: That’s fine, I would watch a show that’s just Neal and Peter hanging around talking.

Matt Bomer: [laughs] It’s such a fun relationship dynamic to play. I’m so lucky to have Tim DeKay, who loves playing ball. Your fear as an actor is you’ll work with an actor who says no to all your ideas our of insecurity or whatever. Tim says yes to everything you put on the table and then we put a fun spin on it. It makes work so much fun.

PopWrap: The cool thing a show like this affords its actors is the ability to branch out — and you have a role in the upcoming Justin Timberlake/Amanda Seyfried movie, “Now.” What can you tell me about the film?

Matt Bomer: It’s a futuristic thriller where they’ve figured out how to switch off the aging gene, so no one ages after 25 – but when you turn 25, there’s a set amount of time you get to live. Everyone gets their own “clock” with how much time they have, which ends up creating a really classist society. Justin and Amanda are trying to figure out how to right the wrongs.

PopWrap: And what about your character?

Matt Bomer: I play a 105 year old who is sort of this tragic, JFK Jr type character. He knows that the system is inherently wrong, but doesn’t know how to fix it. Out of desperation, he goes to some darker places in an attempt to figure it out.

PopWrap: Is there a physicality involved with that kind of character?

Matt Bomer: No one ages, so your body is still the body of a 28 year old. But I spent a lot of time in some wealthy old folks homes. Not for physicality, but more for a sense of what it feels like when someone’s been around that long. The look in their eyes of having seen a lot.

PW: Well I gotta give ya’ll props — this is officially the first movie Betty White can’t be in.

Matt Bomer: [laughs] Well, you’d be surprised how this movie ends. Betty White descends from the heavens and all is right with the world!