Source: Eclipse Magazine
Date: June 14, 2007
“Ultimately it’s just a fun summer ‘popcorn’ thriller about trust that plays upon modern fears and paranoia.” Matthew Bomer is talking about the new action thriller series, Traveler airing on ABC Wednesday nights at 10pm EST. Eclipse Magazine caught up with Matthew Bomer to talk to him about his role in the series. In Traveler, Bomer plays Jay Burchell, a young man who thought he had a bright future all mapped out for himself until he and friend/college room-mate Tyler Fog (played by Logan Marshall Green) find themselves the victims of a set-up that leaves them taking the fall for horrifying act or terrorism. Burchell and Fog become fugitives on the run from the FBI and on the hunt for answers to why Will Traveler (played by Aaron Stanford) someone they thought was their good friend betrayed them.
The premise of Traveler is built on the concept of trust and betrayal and that sometimes friendships aren’t always what they seem. Matthew Bomer finds his own life is far removed from the concepts of betrayal by friends that are predominant in Traveler. He tells Eclipse Magazine that most of his close friends are people he has known since he was kid and they have been in his life for awhile. “I figure if they were going to show another side of their character they would have done it by now so I’m pretty safe with them.”
Given that Eclipses asked Matthew Bomer what it was about this premise of betrayal of trust by someone thought to be a good friend that drew him to the script. “More than any premise in script, I find that I am attracted more to the execution of the story and how it’s played out. The most important thing I responded to when reading the pilot script for Traveler was I wanted to know what happened next. I felt very involved in the character’s lives and I wanted to know more about them and how they were going to get themselves out of this.” Matthew Bomer says that the one of the other things he found so appealing in taking on the role of Jay Burchell in Traveler is that he was intrigued by the circumstances of how otherwise ordinary people get caught up in this kind of intrigue and deal with it.
“Our characters are not ‘Jack Bauer; types who understand how to handle this kind of situation. We are learning on the fly. I liked that aspect of the script as well.” Bomer tells Eclipses what also made Traveler so much fun to work on for him is that they did answer all the questions raised in the pilot as the episodes went along and they created more questions along the way keeping up the intrigue and suspense that surrounds these characters lives now.
David DiGillio the creator of Traveler and one of the series writers, describes Matthew Bomer’s character of Jay Burchell as ‘idealistic’ a trait which DiGillio says the actor and the character share. Matthew Bomer agrees that both he and his character of Jay Burchell are idealistic men, something which he hopes helps to bring a sense of realism to the character that the audience can connect to. Bomer also sees his character as being optimistic as well but also one who has taken a blow to his view of the world around him. “Jay is from a working class background and has worked very hard to get where he is,” Matthew Bomer says of his character. “In the pilot my character was at a place in his life where everything was going great, he’s got a girlfriend he supposedly loves. Then after the bombing of the Drexler Museum all of that is just called into question and thrown out of whack and now here is a man who really believed he could use the system to effect positive changes who in the blink of an eye has found his whole belief in that system crumbling down around him.”
Roller Blades and Cowboy Boots
Traveler is a high octane action/adventure oriented series with the two lead characters of Burchell and Fog almost constantly on the run from FBI as they seek a way to clear their name and to find out who Will Traveler really is.
Matthew Bomer is no stranger to the challenges of physical action and the challenges of filming under extreme conditions, having starred in the movie ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning where his character was put though some really extreme situations and Bomer took on some very physically challenging aspects such as being strapped to a table nearly naked in the cold. Eclipse Magazine asked him what some of the more challenging aspects of filming Traveler had been for him.
“The roller-blading was definitely a challenge.” Matthew Bomer says with a laugh. In the pilot episode Jay Burchell and Tyler Fog are seen roller-blading down inside the fictional Drexler Museum, going down stairs and being chased by security guards. “I’m not a roller-blader,” Bomer says. “But they were smart enough to hire pro roller-bladers to train us for a couple of weeks.”
Roller blades aside Matthew Bomer tells Eclipse Magazine that he had an even bigger and ongoing challenge to deal with. “I would say the biggest physical challenge for me was my character of Jay Burchell didn’t really change clothes and I had a pair of cowboy boots on and running in these boots for the entire season was pretty tough.”
Matthew Bomer tells Eclipse that it was also very cold while filming the pilot for Traveler, especially on the Queensborough Bridge in New York City and it had to be around zero out. That, Bomer tells Eclipse, presented its own unique and challenging aspects for the actors to overcome. “One of the challenges was trying not to look cold even though our faces were freezing,” Bomer says. “They would put ice in our mouths to keep our breath from showing when we were doing dialog. My tongue was so cold from doing that I was having a hard time pronouncing words.” We asked him how he really felt about working under these conditions while filming Traveler. “I loved every minute of it,” he says laughing delightedly.
Having spent time working in soap operas as well as episodic TV, Matthew Bomer tells Eclipse that the one aspect of filming an episodic television series like Traveler that he appreciates is that, unlike soap operas, episodic television has eight days to film one episode. “There is more of a chance to get things right than there is when you only have one day to film your segment in an ongoing soap opera storyline,” Bomer explains.
While Matthew Bomer describes his work on soap operas as a fairly ‘9 to 5’ type schedule, like many episodic television series, the cast and crew of Traveler put in long hours during the filming of the series. “We were filming in Vancouver in a part that was representing the eastern seaboard area and depending on the episode being shoot, there were some times when we were working seventy to eighty hours a week,” Matthew Bomer says of his shooting schedule.
Long working hours aside, Matthew Bomer candidly admits that filming Traveler never felt like work to him. “Even if it was running all day and jumping from explosions,” Bomer says about how his days spent on shooting episodes normally went. “The hours were a little bit daunting at first but then you get into a rhythm after a few episodes. Because of the people I got to work with, it was always really enjoyable.”
Eclipse Magazine asked Matthew Bomer if had any episodes upcoming that he felt were his favorites and that he would like fans to see. “Episode six and eight are favorite episodes, a lot more involvement with the FBI characters, especially Agent Jan Marlow. She is a strong female character that really comes across on screen as competent and capable,” Bomer says of the character played by Viola Davis.
Matthew Bomer says that he has really enjoyed the opportunity to work with co-stars Logan Marshall-Green and Aaron Stanford. “I think that Logan’s character and mine have really established a working chemistry on screen in as far as how they must rely on each other and trust each other even after what has happened with Will Traveler not being what he had seemed to be,” Bomer says of working with Logan Marshall-Green who plays Tyler Fog.
Matthew Bomer also enjoys having the chance to work with Aaron Stanford who plays Will Traveler. “Watching Aaron work has been amazing. Sometimes I would stand back and watch him do a scene and just find myself in awe of the nuances and subtext he puts into those scenes.” Eclipse also asked Matthew Bomer if he had any expectations on the success of Traveler or if he wasn’t trying to look that far ahead. Bomer’s response is candid and realistic about the business he is in. “The most important thing for me is I feel really good about the show. But at the end of the day it’s really just a crap-shoot and you never know what the audience is going to love and what’s going to be picked up on.” Traveler has been struggling somewhat in the ratings and fans, in anticipation of having ABC possibly pull the series or not renew it have recently started a grass roots campaign to let ABC know that the series has a loyal following and viewers who want to see it continue. The petition can be viewed and signed at http://www.petitiononline.com/willtrav/petition.html
While viewers wait for word on a second season of Traveler, Matthew Bomer can be seen live on stage in a production of Villa America” which will be at the Williamstown Festival from June 19-July 22. His character’s name is Hemingway. “Ernest Hemmingway has always been one of my favorite writers so I look forward to the challenge of playing him in this production,” Matthew Bomer says about his upcoming stage performance. For more information and ticket prices to see Matthew Bomer in Villa America go to http://www.wtfestival.org
Catch Matthew Bomer in his role of Jay Burchell on Traveler, ABC’s Wednesday night action thriller airing at 10PM est.