The con is on for CMU grad

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Date: February 15, 2010

His blue eyes draw your attention.

His thick brown hair makes you want to run your hands through it.

His trim body looks even more polished in a vintage Dior suit topped off with a black fedora.

That’s the outfit you’ll often see on Matt Bomer, a 2000 Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama graduate, in his role as con man Neal Caffrey on USA Network’s “White Collar,” which airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays.

Bomer’s character is charming, sexy and sophisticated. After escaping from prison and getting caught by the man who put him there, Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay ), Caffrey strikes a bargain. In exchange for his freedom, he will help the FBI catch the most elusive white collar criminals in the country.

Bomer, 32, grew up in Texas.

Acting has been his passion since he was a child.

“I’ve always had an active imagination,” Bomer says. “And I have always loved being on stage. It was a way of self expression. I believe the stage will always be my home. It is a great outlet for me.”

He chose to study at Carnegie Mellon because of its impressive reputation. He lauds the teaching staff and says the curriculum is so broad, you get exposed to all facets of the profession.

“At Carnegie Mellon, you get the training you need,” says Bomer, who now splits his time between California and New York, where “White Collar” is shot. “It is so comprehensive. It was a great place to learn and take risks and to hone your craft.”

While at Carnegie Mellon, he performed in several cabaret shows and main stage performances. In “A Little Night Music,” he played opposite actress Cote de Pablo, who stars as Ziva David in CBS’ “NCIS.”

Bomer is friends with fellow alum, Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek,” “Heroes”). Quinto’s production company is producing a pilot for the CW network of a new scripted series, “Nashville,” which was created and written by Bomer and Quinto’s producing partner Neal Dodson, according to Quinto’s Web site.

Bomer has fond memories of Pittsburgh. The first thing that struck him upon his arrival was the lack of central air conditioning in dorm rooms, especially because of the humidity. He recalls enjoying Primanti sandwiches, and his experiences at Original Hot Dog shop in Oakland.

“As cheesy as it sounds, I really remember the four seasons in Pittsburgh,” he says. “In Texas, we only have one, maybe two seasons. I lived in Shadyside, and it was so nice that there are so many communities in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh also is a great sports town. The city has a great personality and people are congenial and kind and fun. I made a lot of friends there, and I always felt welcome there.”

Gary Kline, associate professor of musical theater in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama, remembers Bomer as a student.

“Matt has always had that Southern charm, being from Texas,” Kline says. “He is an exceptionally handsome man. He was a terrific student … so willing to work the ‘extra mile’ on any project we did together. As a voice student, he was exemplary in his work. As a performer, well, that’s where the magic kicked in.”

Bomer says he still is learning everyday.

He credits actress Jodie Foster with showing him how to conduct himself on set and how to do the work without the work getting in your way. He worked with her on the 2005 movie “Flightplan.”

“She is intelligent and gracious, and she taught me so much about this business,” Bomer says. “She showed me how to not get in anyone’s way and to concentrate on what you need to do that day and what that scene takes. She is remarkable.”

The con-man character is what drew Bomer to the “White Collar” role. Sometimes, Bomer says he finds himself acting like his character even when the camera’s not rolling. He works between 55 and 70 hours a week during the show’s filming and spends time with appearances and other commitments.

Bomer is often recognized on the street and is more than willing to give an autograph. He says people are very kind. They know his name and often want to sit and talk. He listens to their input about the show, which he also watches with a critical eye for ways to become a better actor.

Bomer says everyone involved with the show respects each other.

“When things click the way they are supposed to, and you are in sync with the directors and the producers, it is such a great experience,” Bomer says.

“I also learned early on what I was in control of, such as showing up on time and doing the best work I am capable of doing on that day,” he says.

“Matt is so much fun to work alongside,” says Tiffani Thiessen, who plays Agent Burke’s wife, Elizabeth. “Besides being beautiful to look at, of course, he makes you laugh and smile nonstop. He’s got a light about him that is infectious. He’s one special guy.”