• White Collar Climb

    Source: IN New York
    Date: October 1, 2010

    With his dreamy blue eyes, designer suits and debonair style, Matt Bomer is heating up the quintessential NYC TV show—and proving he’s not a “stuffed shirt.”

    Sometimes, when a TV show is set in Manhattan, you’re actually looking at a Hollywood backlot. Or, perhaps, one in Toronto. The fast-paced crime drama White Collar (USA Network, 2009-present), which had its mid-Season 2 finale in September and continues in January 2011, proves there’s no substitute for the real thing. In the tradition of Law & Order, camera crews and actors in the show are often spotted shooting on location throughout the five boroughs, capturing more of NYC than a fleet of tour buses.

    New York is really its own character on the show,” declares Matt Bomer, who stars as Neal Caffrey, the convicted con man turned FBI collaborator. “We shoot the city in a very optimistic, blue-skies kind of way.” As a result, White Collar is a picture postcard of iconic locations—Times Square, Columbus Circle, Battery Park, Central Park, Madison Square Park, the Financial District. Lever House (390 Park Ave.) is used as the FBI’s headquarters and Neal lives in a rooftop apartment in Tudor City (btw First & Second aves., from E. 41st to E. 43rd sts.). In a nod to all the positive public relations they’re giving to the world’s financial capital, Bomer and co-star Tim DeKay were invited to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange last March.

    “We’re lucky that we deal with white-collar crime, because we get to shoot in some amazing brownstones and penthouse apartments with million-dollar chandeliers,” says 33-year-old Bomer, who splits his time between five-month shoots in Manhattan and his home in Los Angeles. “I always sneak off to take a tour of whatever the owner will let me see. I ask myself, ‘Why is this person letting us use his or her home? It can’t be for the money!’”

    Born Oct. 11, 1977, in Spring, Texas, Bomer is the son of former Dallas Cowboys center John Bomer and his wife, Sissi. The acting bug bit him early, and after gradating with a BFA in drama from Carnegie-Mellon University, he moved to New York City. “I think I spent the first couple months with my jaw on the ground,” he recalls. “My dad cosigned a lease, so I could get a place to live. I called him to ask for money and he said, ‘I got you through college, but you’re on your own now.’ I think that was the moment I became a New Yorker.”

    He plugged away in local theater, worked as a bellman at the Hudson Hotel and wound up on television in The Guiding Light (CBS, 1956-2009) from 2001 to 2003, followed by roles in Tru Calling (Fox, 2003-2005) and Chuck (NBC, 2007-present). Currently, he relishes his role as White Collar’s charming, sexy, sophisticated semireformed bad boy, a latter-day hipster whose Dior suits and fedoras reveal an obsession with Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack. “The character is really multidimensional,” he explains. “He has this hyperconfident, intelligent charisma. I like how brave and fun he is, and the fact that, at the end of the day, he’s this die-hard romantic who is searching for the love of his life, and that’s where he gets sloppy and messy. I like it when characters are flawed. Neal has a lot of flaws.”

    Off-camera, Bomer is facing a new level of celebrity. “The first time I saw my picture on the side of a New York City bus, I remember thinking, ‘Matt, don’t acknowledge it. Just look down,’” he laughs. “But I don’t really live my life any differently than I did before. People may stop me to talk about the show or take a picture, but I welcome that.”

    In his free time, he enjoys going to Smalls jazz club in Greenwich Village, museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim, attending the theater and shopping at designer boutiques, including Save Khaki, Band of Outsiders, Paul Smith, John Varvatos and Rag & Bone.

    Ultimately, living and working in New York City is its own reward. “I’m pretty overwhelmed with gratitude that we get to shoot here. The rhythm of the city affects the pace, both physically and verbally, of the show. My personal favorites are the disgruntled New Yorkers who curse you out as they walk through your shot. I’m always fascinated when I learn new obscenities from elderly women,” he quips. “But I really love the people of New York. They’re no-nonsense, but they’ll also be the first to stop and give you directions if you’re lost. And culturally, this is my favorite city on the planet—so many different people from so many different walks of life. It teaches understanding.”

    His advice to visitors, as well as those contemplating a move here? “Bring your determination—and your party hat!”