Date: March 29, 2010
Cable procedurals are famous for their ripped-from-the-headlines plots, but when USA debuted White Collar, starring Matt Bomer as a white-collar criminal-turned-sleuth, in the wake of Madoff, well…. “That was completely fortuitous!” Bomer laughs. “We did the pilot, and shortly thereafter the Madoff thing went down. I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is really out there in the zeitgeist right now.’”
As Neal Caffrey, an ex-con whose sentence is commuted in exchange for helping the FBI put away other criminals, Bomer has the sort of reckless charm not often associated with the stern, sad-eyed federal agent. “I watched The Hustler, The Sting, and To Catch a Thief,” he says of his research into the role. “But I also tried to throw in a little bit of Ferris Bueller and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours.” Bueller with a badge? “I like characters with flaws, who have shadow,” Bomer explains.
He was a high-school football player in small-town Spring, Texas — Friday Night Lights country — an hour outside of Houston, when the acting bug first bit. “I started acting professionally when I was 17. I quit the team and did a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Alley Theatre in Houston. I used to drive down at the end of the school day, do the show, do my homework during intermission and drive an hour back to Spring to go to school the next day.” The footballers didn’t object. “I think they understood that this was what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. Of course, he goes on with a smile, “If I had been the All-State quarterback, they would have had some objections to my playing the young collector in Streetcar.”
On Manhattan being all a bit much: “I lived in Midtown back [in the early aughts], and I’d never do that again. It’s byzantine… you walk outside, and I hear the Rolling Stones song, ‘Here Comes Your 19th Nervous Breakdown.’ It’s hard to be Zen there. [On the other hand,] it’s too Zen in L.A. I feel completely blessed to have the best of both worlds. There are things I love and appreciate in New York — the culture, the metropolitan aspect, taking public transportation. The museums, the theater. And New Yorkers. There’s nothing I love more than a really indignant New Yorker walking through our shot who says ‘I don’t care what you f***ers are doing, I’m going to my building!’ They’re so righteous about it.”
Chekhov please: “I would really love to do Orpheus Descending, the [Tennessee] Williams play. I’d love to do some Chekhov. And depending on the project, I wouldn’t mind singing either. The first job I got out of school was — before I graduated, actually — was the first workshop of Spring Awakening.”
On creating a new CW series?: “I’ve sold this pilot I’ve been working on to the CW. I just turned in the final draft and they’re deciding if they’re going to shoot it or not in the next few weeks. It’s the first thing that I’ve sold. I won’t act in it. It’s not a vanity piece, it’s never something where I thought let me write something for me.”
Matthew wears a blazer and pants by Calvin Klein Collection and shirt by Converse by John Varvatos.