Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer Preview White Collar's 'Fraught With Tension' Winter Season

Con man Neal Caffrey was a (charming) bad boy last year, keeping secrets from his partner and pal, FBI Agent Peter Burke. But his naughty behavior is our reward as USA Network’s White Collar resumes Season 3 this Tuesday at 10/9c with a tense winter opener. TVLine chatted with Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer about the new run of episodes, the latest obstacle that threatens their onscreen relationship, diva antics on the set (we kid!) and the stories they’d pitch for each other’s characters.

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TVLINE | Can you describe the winter season in one sentence?
MATT BOMER | Fast, furious, fraught with tension and suspenseful.
TIM DEKAY | Period.
BOMER | Ellipses.
DEKAY | [Laughs] It’s true. It is fast. Buckle your seat belts! We start off right from where we left off at the end of the midseason [finale] and then at the end of the episode, there’s another cliffhanger. It’s not as if we’re, “OK, see you at the desk tomorrow.” No, it’s, “What?!” So it’s fast. [Snaps fingers] It never stops. It’s relentless.

TVLINE | Neal stole this treasure, lied about it and inadvertently got Elizabeth kidnapped. How will that affect Peter and Neal’s relationship?
BOMER | That would be the “fraught with tension” portion in my description. Their relationship is definitely as strained as it’s ever been and actually comes to a physical confrontation at one point. But Peter also knows he needs Neal to help him out, and Neal cares a great deal about Elizabeth, so he’s going to do everything he can to help her, as well. So as dark and deep as they go, I think they always… They’re going to come back to good at some point.

TVLINE | Just how angry is Peter at Neal?
DEKAY | He’s so angry. … Peter is just simply scared and livid that his wife has been kidnapped and that she’ll die. He’s mad at Neal because Neal is there and he’s part of it. And if you look at it in an even deeper way, he’s upset with Neal and wants to say, “Yeah, it’s cool to steal the painting. It’s a fun life. But eventually, somebody’s life — that now you care for deeply — is in grave danger. This is what happens.”

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TVLINE | You touched a bit on the cliffhanger at the of the first new episode. Can you speak to where it’s going and how it affects them the rest of the season?
DEKAY | It comes to the place, as Matt has said before, [of] flight-or-fight for Neal. And Peter is aware of that.
BOMER | [Series creator] Jeff Eastin and the writers did an amazing job, and they do it every year. They completely stay on theme throughout the series, regardless of what the week-to-week case may be. And for Neal this year that was, “Do I stay or do I go?” So every element that comes into it either amplifies or takes away from that.

TVLINE | Can you see Neal’s life without Peter?
BOMER | No. No, I can’t. Not [at least] on some level. I don’t know if it’s prison bars between them and they talk on the phone. Or if they’re, like, having a martini at a country club. Or if it’s on a burner phone from Paris, and he’s at the FBI office. I hope we never know, you know what I mean? I hope the show ends with us never knowing.

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TVLINE | Are there any episodes that you’re really fond of from the new season?
DEKAY | I’m fond of them all. I can’t really name one.
BOMER | Well…
DEKAY | Oh, yeah.

TVLINE | The one you directed?
DEKAY | That was fun, to get to shoot at Yankee Stadium. But I enjoy certain moments. The end of the first episode back, I thought, was just such a cool moment. And it was so fun to do. There were little synapses of memories of seeing you [Turns to Matt] on the patio during the pilot and all these things. Milestones make you look back.

TVLINE | Was Matt well-behaved during the episode you directed?
DEKAY | Not at all. [Smiles] In fact there were times –
BOMER | I was seven-and-a-half hours late one day, but I’m telling you –
DEKAY | “Where is my star?!”
BOMER | I was sick as a dog.
DEKAY | “Mr. DeKay, Mr. Caffrey won’t come out of his trailer until you go to him.”

TVLINE | Let’s talk about love lives. What’s going on with Neal and Sara these days?
BOMER | They did a really good job when they do bring her back, sort of integrating her into the last few episodes in a really meaningful way and not just sort of a sidebar type of way. I think they also have a really grown-up relationship. He obviously finds her very attractive, and they have an innate understanding of each other’s lives given the fact that they’re both fast-paced. But she’s this self-sufficient, intelligent, sexy woman. They sort of are like, “Let’s see what happens. I just came out of a very compulsive relationship where the love of my life exploded on a plane in front of me, so maybe we don’t need to move into together right this second.”

TVLINE | Tim, do you ever wish that they would shake up Peter and Elizabeth’s marriage?
DEKAY | I like that they’re rock steady. I also think — and I said this to the writers — a great way to show that a relationship is rock steady is to show that relationship not in jeopardy, but at odds. And so if they can find some disagreement, I think it’ll be great to see how those two work it out.

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TVLINE | If there was one storyline that you could suggest for the other character, what would it be?  
BOMER | I would love if there were some really hot, powerful FBI woman who came into the office and was, like, trying to pull some power plays and maybe get a little flirty-flirty with Peter — and he’s having to really deal with that.
DEKAY | [To Matt] Does he like her?
BOMER | Oh, he totally is attracted to her, but he’s going to stick to his values. But [there’s] definitely going to be some serious conflict going on. And it might even get to the point – What was the Demi Moore movie where she sexually harasses Michael Douglas…/ Anyway, that could be fun for him, to really put some tension in that relationship and have Elizabeth come in and be like, “Hold up, get away from my man!”

TVLINE | And for Neal?
DEKAY | My fantasy is that there is an episode – we touched on it [when] he had played “Peter Burke” –  where Neal really has to be Peter and sell it in a domestic way. We see him in the house with Elizabeth and that really has to be sold.
BOMER | Oh my God. Awesome. And Neal would totally be having a ball with it, of course! He’d be like, “Listen, this is just what we have to do. We’ve got to commit to these characters, and we’re going to sell it.”
DEKAY | Maybe something happens? I’m not saying that Elizabeth cheats, but there’s a moment where they both…. It just takes them by surprise.
BOMER | Hands will wander!
DEKAY | And, of course, my [other] fantasy is where Peter gets stuck in an elevator.
BOMER | Yes! We have to have the episode where it’s just literally the two-hander the entire episode, where they’re kidnapped or stuck or something, and it’s like they’re working some s–t out because there’s tension going on.
DEKAY | And all they have with them is an old game board, like a game of Clue.

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  1. Jessica says:

    Cannot wait for white collar to come back! Hilarious interview, Thanks for posting!!

  2. Melody says:

    I am so happy this show is returning. Everytime a preview appears I must pause and collect myself. Although I know that Elizabeth will be fine, I know that going through this experience with these characters is going to make a really excellent episode.

  3. CJ says:

    Oh, I hope Jeff Eastin is taking notes on the ideas from Matt and Tim. Those would be awesome stories :-)

  4. E says:

    I so hope they never mess with Peter and Elizabeth’s marriage – it is just so nice to have one drama that shows a GOOD marriage.

  5. Eileen says:

    I like White Collar a lot. I just wish Neal was with the brunette thief girl (alex)–Sara is kind of annoying. Whatever happened to Alex?

    • A says:

      Really? I actually think “the brunette thief girl” is far more annoying than Sara ever could be. The former brings out the worst in Neal, while the latter, I feel, brings out some of the best. As for where Alex is, scheduling issues are preventing the actress from returning, according to the crew.

    • Justin says:

      After Neal rescued Alex last season, she left to keep thieving on her own. While Alex and Neal seem like an ideal couple, it wouldn’t last long; in fact, their courtship would be very brief. Alex is way too much of a lone wolf to be tied down, even with Neal. She said this to Sara (not using those exact words, but something like that).

    • SG says:

      Completely agree. I can’t watch episodes with lots of Sara, so I’m disappointed she’s apparently going to be integral to the end of this season – I might have to skip it, the actress irritates me so much.

      Neal and Alex had so much great chemistry. Sara and Neal have about as much chemistry as a damp rag.

      • Heather says:

        Wait, huh? Was it a “damp rag” that was in the library archives in that one episode? That had episode upon episode of flirting, where the desire and tension and possibility were almost overwhelming before they even got together? I genuinely do not understand it when people think Hilarie’s acting is flat or that their relationship is “rushed” or “stiff” or what have you. I mean, fine, maybe you have a personal preference for one actress or the other. But you at least have to admit that Neal and Sara’s relationship is one hundred times better written.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Wow, that’s really disappointing that you’re even considering not watching because of Sara. I’ve seen some really flat acting and Hilarie really is not as bad as everyone is complaining about. For me, I find it hard to see Neal committing to a relationship with Sara, but hey, he has to be with someone! If not Sara who else would be fit for the spot? Alex? The writers have already established that their relationship wouldn’t work. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter who will be the girlfriend, viewers will always criticize who’s paired up with Neal.

  6. Amanda says:

    Really, really glad this show is back! Also hoping for a Neal and Sara reunion in S4, if not this season. They really could be good together, as Neal said. :) And glad to see Matt and Tim being their adorable selves even when their fictional counterparts are breaking our hearts. :(

  7. Eliza says:

    Excited for White Collar’s return!
    Love these two.

    Neal & Peter are second only to Shawn & Gus as one of my favorite bromances.

  8. Anna says:

    Matt is hilarious! He’s such a hoot! And I agree with him. It would be great if the show doesn’t jump ship and gets him to loose the anklet. WC has a lot of fans that are not fangurls and who would tune off if this because like some schmaltzy soap with only bromance, romance and good guys catching the bad guys.


  9. Kerry says:

    Thanks for the great interview. You can feel that the two men like each other very much. Hopefully the show will NOT end anytime soon. I love them both together and can’t wait to see the new episodes.

  10. JP says:

    Finally, the show I’ve been waiting for is back — yayness!!! Thanks for posting this interview; it was the perfect appetizer.

  11. alicja says:

    can’t wait!!!!! but please no Sara, there is something really annoying about her,she seems so snotty and abnoxious. I hope they will bring him someone new, or he could be a manwhore for a while

  12. Felicity says:

    I swear, sometimes I wonder if people who want Neal to be a manwhore are watching the show, or watching Matt Bomer. Neal is a romantic, not a nympho. Sara could be the real deal for him, and hopefully, she is. Hilarie and Matt are fantastic together and their characters make perfect sense. In any case, so glad to have the best bromance on tv back! Hopefully, the writers fix it, and soon!

    • Toby says:

      Neal and Sara together put many people off enough to stop watching the show. And Hilarie can’t act to save her life. She’s wooden and charm-free.

      • Hannah says:

        If a little thing like ‘ship preference is enough to cause people to stop watching, then clearly they weren’t real fans in the first place, not sorry to say….

      • yippity says:

        Neal and Sara together put many people off enough to stop watching the show. And Hilarie can’t act to save her life. She’s wooden and charm-free.
        Comment by Toby – January 17, 2012 05:58 AM PST

        you said it all right there buddy…I wonder why they keep casting her, she must have a veeery influencial…”uncle”…

    • alicja says:

      and what romantic do You see about the N/S relationship?Insurance Investigator Barbie and Con Man Ken is not what I want to see, they look pretentious and snobbish together. Plus Sara’s ridicuolusly high heels make her bigger than him

      • Ian says:

        Pretentious? Snobbish? I’d argue that it’s the exact opposite. Sara even said to Neal “You live in the clouds, and I live on west 69th.” If anything, she’s the one that grounds them, and it’s this contrast that makes them so interesting – as opposed to Neal and Alex, who when they are together, just spend their time deluding themselves. And what on earth do Sara’s shoes have to do with anything? Does a woman always have to be shorter than a man?

        • alicja says:

          do You understand words pretentious and snobby? I dont think so, as Your contrargument is about him being a dreamer and her being down to earth, what does it have to do with snobism?sorry but no logic in Your response.
          as for her shoes well it looks better when a guy is taller, especially considering that Matt Bomer is tall. Dont You think she kinda looks like Cruella de Vil:]]]

  13. Cynthia says:

    GAH! I can’t wait for tonight!

  14. Leticia says:

    God! There are ship/character wars in this fandom?
    Guys, let’s just enjoy the fact that the show is back tonight!:D

    • Carter says:

      I know, I don’t understand the need to bring up these old characters when you could just be enjoying the show for what it is now :P

  15. Hannah says:

    So thrilled to finally have this show back. My Tuesdays have been a little lonelier without it in my life! And really, kids? Calling Hilarie “wooden” and saying Neal and Sara have as much chemistry as a “damp rag”? Sorry to inform you, but clearly the writers and casting directors think Matt and Hilarie have amazing chemistry – which they do, actually. Alex is nowhere to be found and thank God for that. If you’re looking for a “damp rag,” look at Gloria Votsis. Yuck. Neal and Sara all the way.

  16. Amery says:

    Looking forward to the show, but not to Sarah. Cannot stand that character. I think I’ll DVR the show this year so I can ffwd through her scenes.

    • Sara says:

      If you’re going to skip a character’s episodes, at least know how to spell her name.

      • Amery says:

        Why? Does it hurt a fictional person’s feelings if I misspell her name? Boo hoo. Poooooor Sarah.

        • yippity says:

          Why? Does it hurt a fictional person’s feelings if I misspell her name? Boo hoo. Poooooor Sarah.
          Comment by Amery – January 17, 2012 11:35 AM PST

          lmao you’re right, the previous comment was such a fail

  17. Harper says:

    ahhh i really like the idea of neal pretending to be peter again! if sara had to be elizabeth it’d be a great way for them to get back together :3

    and neal and peter stuck in an elevator would be absolutely hilarious.

    • Noelle says:

      OMG I completely LOVE the idea of Neal and Sara having to pose as Peter and El! Writers should listen to Tim’s suggestion and hopefully draw the same conclusion. Neal and Sara are perrrfect together. =)

  18. Michael says:

    Oh dear god don’t tell me these show is going to have shipper like NCIS man why is it that a good show always go back when shipper become invloed

  19. Ginnii68 says:

    One word – Mozzie

  20. Mick says:

    They finish each others sentences- cute.

  21. Cynthia says:

    You guys are seriously pathetic — well most of you, not everybody.
    I kept reading the comments and all i could see was : blablabla i don’t like sara blablabla she’s boring blablabla they don’t have chemistry together.

    Seriously people ? First of all, i think Hilarie Burton is a wonderful actress. She proved it on One Tree Hill and personally she was my favorite character on the show. You just don’t like her because deep down, you’d like to be her and be Neal’s love interest (which btw is pretty sad). You can dislike the character, but don’t hate on the actress or her skills.

    If you’d spent more time trying to understand her character, you’d realize that she’s put up walls around her due to her past. She may come across as snobish or whatever but it’s just a facade. I think she is perfect for Neal because unlike his exes, she has her feet on the ground, she’s honest and true and that’s exactly what Neal needs in a woman.

    If you don’t like, it’s just proof that she actually did her job in portraying her character. I, too, at first, was like Eum ? Ok.. but UNLIKE you, i tried to dig underneath it all, and i fell in love with her. She is not different from any ordinary girls. She’s not that sexy fierce mysterious brunette always on the run. I can relate to her.

    Anyway, you should just enjoy the show and try to see the good side for once. Neal deserves to be happy and I believe it is possible with Sara. If you’re not happy, then stop watching and give us (real fans) a break.

    Thank you very much.

  22. carina says:

    how i wish there would be a gay episode where peter and neal have to go undercover has gay lovers and where they would almost kiss.. I swear this kind of episode will be hilarious…. I love the chemistry between them, the best!