Date: January 30, 2013
Matt Bomer talks about his new show White Collar, being molested on the set of Magic Mike and an online campaign to get him to star in the new Fifty Shades of Grey film.
What inspired you to become an actor?
A teacher in sixth grade who ran the theatre arts class. She was really invested in helping me out and mentoring me. It was a means of expressing myself and I liked the thrill of getting onstage and giving a voice to the crazy characters I’d created in my head. I’m from a very athletic family and I thoroughly enjoyed sports as a kid but acting was a way of expressing myself and having fun. It was something I found on my own.
Any memorable early roles?
I played Bill Sikes in Oliver. For some reason, they always gave me a fat suit in high-school productions. If there was a character who needed to be robust, they gave me a fat suit and I put on a silly voice.
What were the highs and lows of making your TV breakthrough in daytime soap opera The Guiding Light?
I’d got a part in a Broadway show then 9/11 happened and I lost the job. I’d met a casting director for a soap opera who said if I ever needed a job to let him know. I don’t regret it for a second. It was an incredible opportunity for a young actor, you have to become comfortable in front of a camera and learn how to make choices quickly. My character went though so many changes.
I knew I wasn’t going to stay for long so I told the writers to give me crazy storylines. I started as a trust fund kid who made a bet with friends that he’d deflower the town virgin, then fell in love with her and she found out about his scheme and dumped him. Then he lost his trust fund and became a prostitute. Then his new girlfriend found out, he went crazy, kidnapped her, took her to a cabin in the woods, killed three people, told her he’d been molested by a female school teacher as a child and killed himself by injecting insulin – in front of her, her father and her new boyfriend.
Doing stripper film Magic Mike must have seemed tame in comparison?
Fear is a great motivator but it was a great experience working with Steven Soderbergh and those great actors. It was a great ensemble, everyone was very supportive.
Weren’t you molested by an extra on set?
Yeah but those were happy accidents. The extras were such a part of making that world real. They were really committed and very interactive. I wasn’t offended. If you commit to wearing next to nothing and gyrate in a woman’s face, you have to accept whatever comes your way.
What’s your forthcoming film, Space Station 76, about?
It’s like The Ice Storm set in a 1970s version of outer space – but funnier. It deals with the duality of 1970s suburbia, and the secret needs we all hide, in an unflinching way. I play a maintenance worker on a spaceship who is trying to provide for his family and create a better home environment and his wife is falling apart. Drama and comedy ensues.
Is this your first trip into space?
It is. We shot in the valley – it was 110 degrees outside in summer, so I discovered space is surprisingly warm. It was a blast and I’m really proud of it.
There’s an online campaign to get you to play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades Of Grey film. Is that of any interest to you?
No comment. That’s my line on that. But it’s very flattering that I’ve got fans who would like to see me in things.
You ‘came out’ in a speech at an awards show last year. Why did you decide that was the right time?
I just thanked my family in a way that anyone would.
Did you anticipate that it would cause wider interest?
I didn’t concern myself with that. I did what anyone else would do. It wasn’t a premeditated thing. I really just try to focus on my job, which is to be an actor, and outside that, the cards fall where they may, and on not getting caught up in how people react to certain things. That’s a death trap creatively.
You were linked to the Superman role. Would you like to do a superhero movie?
Absolutely. It would be fun. Get me in tights and put me in front of a green screen. Most heroes seem to have been done. Are there any left you would want to be? There’s always a need for new superheroes. As society changes, the types of superheroes will probably change as well.
Who have you learned the most from when working with them?
I’ve learned so much from everyone – even if it’s how not to behave. I learn from [co-star] Tim DeKay on White Collar every day – he’s been a great mentor and is very patient. Matthew McConaughey taught me about commitment. He’s the most committed actor I’ve ever worked with. He’s a good guy and I learned a lot from watching him. ‘Method’ gets thrown around a lot and means different things to different people but he was in the world of Magic Mike from the moment we got on set to the moment it was a wrap for the day.