Date: January 18, 2012
When we heard that Paper magazine Beautiful People Alum and star of USA’s White Collar, Matt Bomer, was going to be randomly chilling at the Empire State Building, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to head over to the Observatory Deck and talk to him about his show, raising hell as a Texan teen and going to male strip clubs to prep for his upcoming film, Magic Mike. (And besides, considering that his flick is about male strippers, we got a kick out of the phallic subtext in having the interview atop New York’s most famous skyscraper.)
Have you ever been up here before?
I never have. And my palms are really sweaty. It’s beautiful.
So what can you tell us about the rest of this season on White Collar?
I have a commutation hearing, which means I could be a free man. I could be rid of my canklet, which is what I call it. Not an “anklet” but a “canklet.”
How has it been wearing one of those on the show? Does it make you feel like Lindsay Lohan?
I do think it informs me.
I always wear it. It’s something that even if it’s a subconscious thing, there’s some type of awareness going on that I am hampered. Somebody who wants freedom so much does have his wings clipped. But I have relationships [with my canklets]. We had this really uncomfortable, god-awful one the first season. They literally kept [it] on my ankle with a staple. Like, I had a bloody ankle! But now, of course, they’ve souped it up. My new one’s name is Subi. My first one’s name was Candy the Canklet. And my new one has a very kinda German-chic look to it. And I think “candy” in German is “Süßigkeiten” or something so I thought I’d call her “Subi.”
Oooh, do you speak German?
No, I just asked.
Well speaking of canklets, when you were growing up in Texas, did you ever raise hell?
Have you ever been arrested?
I’ve been brought in but no real record.
What did you get brought in for?
A bunch of friends of mine and I decided after we graduated high school we would just go visit the high school and leave some posters and signs up that expressed how we felt about certain faculty members.
What kinds of things are we talking about here?
Just incredibly offensive, juvenile things that only an 18-year-old could come up with. Or 17, which I guess we were at the time. We were busted and I actually got away but I came back to make sure my friends were alright and then I sort of turned myself in, I guess.
So you had a guilty conscience.
The principal did a great job disciplining us because many of our posters revolved around him and he said, “Come into my office. Let’s chat about this.” And I was of course petrified. And he had the poster hanging up in his office.
Did it have his photo on it?
Drawings. Drawings. Elaborate, elaborate drawings.
What kind of drawings?
Let’s not go there. But I think he did such a great job in terms of handling it that the point was made very clearly. I was not going to be hanging any more posters any time soon.
So let’s talk about your new movie, Magic Mike. How was it playing a male stripper?
It was terrifying and exciting and enervating and intimidating. All those things.
How did you prep for it? Did you and your cast mates visit any Chippendale-type places?
I did. I went solo and I think some other guys went to other places. I reached out to this group called The Hollywood Men who were super collaborative and welcoming. They let me come into the club and a lot of my character’s scenes are in this Altman-esque world of before and after they go onstage and they let me experience a lot of that. They let me go onstage a little bit. I didn’t perform but they let me hang in the wings while people were performing so I could get the relationship to the audience. So that was really fun. Then we did a lot of choreography with an amazing choreographer called Alison Faulk who choreographs for Britney Spears and Madonna and was able to take what we had and accentuate that and hide the things that we were really shitty at.
So who had the best moves? You or [co-star] Channing Tatum?
Channing by far! Channing’s dancing in this movie is, I mean, it defies the laws of physics! It’s insane. I can’t wait for people to see it. They’re just gonna freak out. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
Any other prep work that was particularly interesting or excruciating? I read somewhere that you had to get your chest waxed?
Yeah, I think everybody had to come correct in terms of what those people do. It was a lot of training, waxing, self-tanning, those kinds of things that are a necessity for that job. And while they weren’t enjoyable, they definitely helped inform the experience and helped you out when you’re out onstage doing your thing.
Magic Mike is out June 29th; White Collar is on Tuesdays, at 10 p.m., on USA.