• TV ‘hunk’ Bomer gets welcome change of pace

    Source: North Adams Transcript
    Date: July 12, 2007

    Actor Matthew Bomer has become used to being chased by federal agents or weirdos with chainsaws, so the star of ABC’s action-packed “Traveler” and the 2006 film “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” is delighted to be playing author Ernest Hemingway in the Williamstown Theater Festival’s production of “Villa America,” which opens today. “I’m playing Ernest Hemingway at 27, and it’s just wonderful because I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time,” Bomer said Tuesday afternoon during an interview in a lounge adjacent to Center Stage in the ’62 Center for Theatre and Performing Arts at Williams College. “To prepare, I read two biographies and read everything he had written up to that age except for a few short stories. I’ve done all my homework, but ultimately you realize that the version of him that you need to play is the one that best serves the piece you’re doing.”

    The new play, commissioned by the festival, is written and directed by Crispin Whittell and also stars Charlotte Booker, Nate Corddry, Jennifer Mudge, Karl Kenzler and David Deblinger. The WTF will present two performances today on Nikos Stage at 3 and 8 p.m. The show is two hours long, with one intermission, and will run through July 22.

    “Villa America,” explores the lives, loves, losses and relationships of the inner circle of Gerald and Sara Murphy, two wealthy Americans known for their generosity and flair for parties. The Murphys, who are also the focus of a gallery show at the Williams College Museum of Art this summer, befriended such well-known artists as Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso, whom they entertained in their home in the French Riviera, which they dubbed “Villa America.”

    “I think the play is about the incredible relationship the Murphys had with each other — their marriage — which sustained itself admist all the problems of the creative people that surrounded them and were struggling during this time period,” Bomer said. “It’s also about the generosity and graciousness of the Murphys. Their relationship was just this nucleus of sustainability while all these incredible characters wander in and out of their lives.”

    With tousled brown hair and sparkling sea-green eyes, Bomer, 29, laughed about the early beginnings of his career. Unlike most actors, he said, he didn’t know from an early age that he wanted to go into acting.

    “I just kind of found it on my own in middle school,” he said. “I started doing these tournaments where you presented monologues.”

    During his senior year of high school in Spring, Texas, Bomer, the son of former Dallas Cowboy football player John Bomer, landed a part in Houston’s prestigious Alley Theater.

    “I played sports in high school, so I quit the football team to take the part,” he said. “From there, I auditioned for colleges. I graduated with a bachelor in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University with a major in acting and a minor in music. Then, I went to New York City, where I worked in theater.”

    His first television appearance was on the soap opera “All My Children,” before landing a role as Ben Reade on “Guiding Light,” another soap opera.

    “The world of soap operas is fast-paced,” Bomer said. “You’re at rehearsal at 7 a.m. and shooting scenes by 9 a.m. You get your script a week in advance, but you’re shooting 20 to 30 pages of script for four days in a row. You really only get one take. It’s a good training ground because it teaches you to make choices quickly and it really exercises the muscles of memory.”

    Following a three-year stint on “Guiding Light,” he went on to land the role of Luc Johnston in the science-fiction show, “Tru Calling,” and then appeared in the 2005 Jodie Foster movie, “Flight Plan.”

    Bomer also came close to playing Clark Kent in the remake of “Superman,” — he was director Brett Ratner’s first choice for the role. When Ratner left the production and the remake became the sequel “Superman Returns,” Bomer auditioned for director Bryan Singer, but didn’t make the cut to play the “man of steel.”

    Then he was asked to audition for “Traveler.”

    “I actually screen-tested for another Warner Brothers show, but then the WB became the CW (television network), and the show was dropped,” Bomer said. “However, the people behind ‘Traveler,’ had seen my screen test and called me.”

    The new action-packed show, which has been airing on ABC on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. is the summer replacement for the network’s hit series, “Lost,” which is on hiatus. Bomer plays the role of Jay Burchell, one of three grad-school students out on a two-month adventure before taking jobs in the real world. During their second day of the trip, the three friends decide to pull a prank — roller-blading through an art museum in New York City. After completing the prank, two of the friends exit the museum seconds before it explodes. Bomer’s character soon learns that his friend and college roommate of two years doesn’t exist on paper and has framed them for the bombing.

    “They hired us a trainer for those scenes,” Bomer said. “I’m a holy-rolling mess on roller blades. The role is very physical, but they made sure the trainer was able to help us keep up our endurance for 14-hour work days. You can only prepare so much for a role like that, and then it all goes out the window when you start filming.”

    While he won’t know the show’s fate for another couple of weeks — if ABC will chose to renew it — he’s not too worried about his next move.

    “I’ve already shot a pilot for another show called “Chuck,” which got picked up by NBC,” he said. “It’s an action and a comedy. It’s hard to explain, but the director makes it work. I get to play this rogue CIA agent who purposely forces a computer program on his unwitting friend, who’s part of the ‘nerd herd,’ a group of computer guys.”

    In the meantime, Bomer’s content to make his debut at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

    “I’ve been wanting to work with the theater festival for some time,” he said. “I think it’s a great place that attracts the best that the theater world has to offer. You get to work with great people in a place that’s removed from the city. It’s an escape from metropolitan life, and it happens to be beautiful here.”