Eye on Emmy: Matt Bomer on the Allure of His White Collar Con Man Role and Getting Glee-ful

White Collar Matt BomerMatt Bomer has been a very busy man. The White Collar star has a movie opening soon – you may have heard of a little “independent” project called Magic Mike – but he isn’t forgetting his TV roots.

In addition to his leading role as con man Neal Caffrey on the dapper USA Network hit, Bomer found time during his hiatus to film a guest spot on a decidedly different show – the musical comedy Glee – giving him two shots at an Emmy nomination. Here, the actor talks to TVLine about the Emmys’ indifference to USA Network shows, his favorite moments from White Collar‘s most recent season and stretching his comedy muscles. He also reveals why big screen success won’t ever stop him from donning Neal’s impeccably stylish suits.

PHOTOS | First Look: White Collar‘s Neal Woos Mía Maestro

TVLINE | Do you see something like Magic Mike and a growing movie career as a positive or a hindrance to your Emmy chances — as well as to White Collar‘s future?
It’s always good to get your face out there, especially if you’re working with somebody like [Magic Mike director] Steven Soderbergh. I don’t think that hurts. I certainly don’t think it’ll hurt the show. The great thing about getting to do a cable series is we’re on for six months and we’re off for six months. I’ve been trying to use my hiatus to work with filmmakers like [In Time director/writer] Andrew Niccol and Steven Soderbergh that I really believe in, in smaller roles, rather than taking a lead in something big and studio and splashy – not that Magic Mike hasn’t become studio and splashy. [Laughs] But when I signed on to do it, it was a $5 million independent movie. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to go out there and challenge yourself as an actor.

TVLINE | We don’t have to worry about you leaving White Collar any time soon, right?
No, I consider White Collar my home base. I’m so lucky to get to play a character that’s very multifaceted and the writers take risks on and never get into a staid process with. They’re always challenging themselves and, thusly, me as an actor. As long as they continue to do that, I’m happy. I love my job on White Collar. I won’t be leaving it any time soon.

TVLINE | USA Network shows tend to be written off when it comes to Emmys, because they’re considered lighter fare. Do you think that’s a fair characterization?
I don’t think it’s fair because, to me, they are dramatic shows with elements of humor. As long as that doesn’t get overly quirky or too hokey, that’s the way life is to me. I don’t know anybody who walks through life all the time in the doldrums, constantly serious and morose. But that’s become what we generalize as drama. I’m really lucky to get to work on a show that has elements of humor. But when you’re comparing that to – I won’t list anything specifically – a lot of the shows that are pretty much straight drama the entire time, it runs the risk of being categorized as something else. But I don’t really think it is.

VIDEO | White Collar‘s Neal Soaks Up the Sun

TVLINE | Neal Caffrey has to be one of the funnest characters to play.
He is. It’s so rare, especially as a younger actor, to find a role where it’s not just one-dimensional and it’s not just a stock leading man. He is smart, intelligent, slick. He has grace under fire. He’s excellent under pressure. He’s on point. He’s firing on all cylinders. But at the same time, he’s really a 4-year-old. He has terrible impulse control. He makes really irrational decisions, especially when it comes to anything romantically-inclined. He is a hopeless romantic to a fault. … It’s a real dream of a role to get to play. More and more, as I play the role over the years, I come to find so many things in my life that I thought were futile or silly at the time, that I may have studied or read about or practiced, led up to this opportunity for me.

TVLINE | Like what? Is there something specific?
Everything from dance classes at conservatory helping me memorize fight choreography to being obsessed with the Rat Pack for a period time to loving the aesthetics of the ’60s suits and European films like La Dolce Vita and [actor] Alain Delon and Le Samouraï. So many little idiosyncratic things prepared me for this part. Playing athletics, playing a lot of different sports, going to drama school…. I was one of those kids who wanted to do everything, so I ended up being pretty average at everything. But for a role like this where they’ll throw the kitchen sink at you in the 25th hour, it helps to have been kind of average, if that makes any sense. [Laughs]

TVLINE | When you put on those suits and walk the streets of New York, what goes through your head?
[Laughs] Whatever I’m playing in the scene. I spent weeks in my backyard before we shot the pilot figuring out what Neal’s walk was. Finally, I got his strut down after a while, which sometimes looks like a borderline pimp limp, I know. [Laughs] It’s one of those situations where the wardrobe completely informs the character and how they hold themselves in the world and the parts of society he maneuvers in. He’s a peacock in a way. He’s not afraid to make eye contact with any of the ladies walking by. It’s a modern updating of the swinging ’60s.

RELATED | Exclusive: White Collar Nabs Castle Alum Victor Webster

TVLINE | Looking back at Season 3, do you have a favorite Neal moment or episode?
I have a couple. One was getting to be directed by [co-star] Tim [DeKay], who stepped behind the camera for the first time [for Episode 15, “Stealing Home”]. It was a real dream collaboration to get to work with him in a different way. And I really loved the finale because it was this buildup of so many things; [creator] Jeff Eastin constructed it really well. To have that scene where Neal goes before the committee and testifies about why he should have his freedom was really fun to get to play. And then the long shot that the network very graciously let us have where he’s just sitting on the plane, and there are a thousand things running through his mind, but he doesn’t say anything. He’s just looking out the window. Scenes like that, [which] you’ve built up to for so long and then get to play very simply rather than over-explaining or having to over-act or over-talk it, are really fun to do.

TVLINE | Was that an actor’s dream? You got a monologue, basically, and then this lengthy sequence that’s just the camera on your face.
It’s intimidating. But you’ve been living in [the character’s] shoes for so long that half of the job is trusting not only that you know exactly what’s going through his mind, but also that part of your job is to get out of the way and let the audience put what they want you to be thinking into your head.

TVLINE | You and Tim DeKay have some of the best chemistry on-screen and off. What’s your secret?
I compare it to two kids who just hit it off on the playground and they come over for a play date and you have to call them in five times for dinner because they don’t want to stop playing. Tim has an amazing sense of humor — he makes me laugh a lot — and he understands my sense of humor. From the first time we read together, I completely understood what he was bringing to the character of Peter Burke, and I think he understood what I was bringing to Neal. It was this yin-yang that felt really easy and not forced. For me, that was really important in terms of having a long-term dynamic.

TVLINE | You did a guest spot on Glee during your hiatus. Was it important to you to do something drastically different from White Collar?
Yeah, it was. Cooper Anderson was just such a fun role. [Co-creators] Ryan [Murphy] and Ian [Ian Brennan] and [writer] Michael Hitchcock really gave me a gift of a role. I had Eric Stoltz as a director, who’s all about getting the juice out of every scene and having the most fun possible. It was really important for me to flex different muscles and get to do comedy.

TVLINE | What was the most enjoyable part of the process: the comedy, the dancing or the singing?
My master class scene because I understood so much about this guy, who was so desperate for validation from anyone. It was fun to construct this piecemeal identity he had where he parses out the things he wants to hear and believe and then commits to them with absolute conviction. Having the commitment to teach these kids that the best way to pull off a dramatic scene is to “point as much as possible” and then make that truthful was not only challenging, but incredibly fun.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Mousie says:

    Oh, how I love this beautiful man. I wish he had a straight clone.

    • Lisa says:

      LOL I do agree!! I would love to see him do Glee again! Had no clue he could sing like that!!! WOW

    • Di says:

      even the straight clone wouldn’t wanna have anything to do with you, hon.

      • jenniblock says:

        So true, always laugh at these poor girls who ‘are sad’ that he is not straight or say they won’t watch WC anymore, they are quite sad and kind of dense. I guess they won’t be watching lots of shows since tv is riddled with gay actors playing straight roles on every network, few own it like Matt does.

        • Mousie says:

          I’m sorry, did I say I was sad cause he’s gay? Cause I didn’t, and I’m not. I was trying to make a joke. Keep on writing idiotic responses, though.

      • Mousie says:

        Classy response…

      • Stacyh says:

        That was uncalled for Di.

        • Ratzy says:

          Actually the comment was appropriate. Mousies comments insinuates that there is something wrong with being gay or if he were straight any normal person would have a chance with such a god. Evolve please.

    • GDV says:

      I REALLY think he should have been cast as the new Superman. He looks EXACTLY like Clark Kent.

      • Deena says:

        I am almost positive I read a while ago he was up for the role that went to Brandon Routh in Superman Returns.

    • Kate says:

      I’m with ya sister. The gay community are some very lucky people…..so’s his partner/husband/whatever you call it. But that isn’t what matters, he’s an (extremely) great actor, and I love him as Neal! You are far from average, Mr. Bomer, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise!

    • I want to see Matt, this beautiful man play Christian Grey!!!!!!

    • Ajax says:

      really im a guy bt I feel bad abt girls who dont hav a chance to even think abt him as a straight…..

  2. Alex says:

    Love Matt Bomer. Seems like such a nice, talented, and humble guy. He definitely deserves a nomination for his fantastic guest occurrence on Glee! And also White Collar, but I think Glee is more likely.

  3. A says:

    I swear this show and other USA shows are so underrated. I mean seriously White Collar is better than half the shows the Emmy’s pick as nominations. IT’S SOOO GOOD. And he’s a great actor who deserves more recognition for this role.

    • Shaun says:

      Blame it on the writing,it’s not too original.

      • Temperence says:

        The writing is pretty awesome, really. And it’s original enough that we really haven’t seen anything like it in at least 50 years.

        • Keenan says:

          Come on, to be fair (& i love USA shows) You’ve got a fake psychic, a fake lawyer & you usually have a younger guy taking a younger one under his wing trying to straight him out.

    • julia murphy says:

      I totall agree that Matt Bomer should be nominated for an Emmy or his role as Neal Caffrey onWhite Collar and the show should also be nominated. This is a great show and it should get more publicity and more mediia attention.It is a much btter show than most of the big network shows that get named for an Emmy.

  4. Firstly, so glad to hear Matt will not be hanging up Neal’s fedora any time soon! Thanks so much for getting that message out there so I can sleep well at night ;)

    Secondly, I just love that Matt and all the cast of White Collar have so much trust and respect for the writers. I am as much a fan of them as I am of the talented cast.

    I hope you will write a similar piece on Tim DeKay soon too. White Collar would not be the same with only Caffrey and no Burke!

    • aragarna says:

      Couldn’t agree more with the last part. I wished Tim DeKay would get more recognition too. He is one of the most underrated actor in the world. He has an incredible talent, for both comedy and drama, and he gives so much to Peter Burke. He would really deserve an Emmy. At least a nomination.

  5. Leo says:

    “Blaine, your brother is the most good-looking man In North America!”

  6. rainey13 says:

    More Matt Bomer – in anything – can only be a good thing. Can’t wait for June 29 and Magic Mike, and then July 10 and the return of White Collar! It’s been too long without my favorite bromance between Neal and Peter.

  7. Eugene says:

    Seriously, i love this guy. Bomer is sooo AWESOME GUY ever! i can’t wait for his return! I really want to see his face at the screen and TV right now. OMG

  8. lame says:

    1. Matt Bomer is probably the BEST looking man to ever grace TV.
    2. Why is everyone so still obsessed w/his ONE small guest appearance on Glee? Frankly, he is better than the show. He was doing them a favor.
    3. Magic Mike anyone???

    • 1. Amen to that sister!
      2. I know, but it was freaking hilarious. I had broken up with Glee a long time ago, but had a one night stand with it for Matt Bomer.
      3. Seriously! Everyone’s making a big deal about Channing Tatum in that movie, but I’m seeing it for Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello.

      • Chester says:

        1. When I first saw him, I could not believe how good looking his was. It is almost like someone drew him.

      • SharB says:

        I agree with all three of your comments. Matt Bomer is hot and I can’t wait to see “Magic Mike” and his Ken doll.

      • julia murphy says:

        I saw Magic Mike for Matt Bomer and I would have preferred less Matthew Mcconnahey and more dancing from all the gorgeous men on that stage. After all the effort that they put into the choreography most of the numbrs were cut short with the exception of Tatum and Mcconnahy which was more stripping and less dancing. The best looking guy on that stage was Matt Bomer.

    • Stacyh says:

      The appearance on Glee was just really funny. I watched the first season, but not since, I tuned in for Bomer!
      (and yes, he is beautiful)

  9. Lucy says:

    They need to cast him as Christian Grey. Someone please make that happen!

  10. Eli says:

    Classiest guy on TV, he really needs a nod for White Collar. Emmy needs a Dramedy category. He was Glee’s best guest star ever.

  11. Emma says:

    I still don’t understand the appeal of White Collar. I think it’s very blah. And the cases are weak.

  12. Kate says:

    I don’t think his face is what people are going to be looking at in Magic Mike…

  13. sarah says:

    I have loved Matt Bomer since he was on Tru Calling! I love White Collar and I am seeing Magic Mike pretty much because of him!
    It dose not matter that he is gay! He is super funny and seems like a nice guy, I have read tons of interviews he has done!
    I just watched Glee for the scenes he was on and he was super funny!

  14. MGL says:

    Love him. Can totally see him in 50 Shades of Grey!

  15. One thing I must disagree with Matt about; he may be many things, but average is not one of them!

  16. HC says:

    I just finished watching seasons 1-3 of White Collar yesterday and oh my lord, it was better than anything I expected!! Not only is Matt Bomer ridiculously handsome and suave, but his dynamic with Tim is absolutely amazing. And then after stalking his interviews for a “few” hours (not even sorry about it either haha) I realized that he really is super polite, polished, intelligent, and hilarious. And he says he wants to have a career like Matt Damon, who’s about his work and keeping his private life private. Knew there was another reason why I loved him. Can’t wait for Magic Mike and the return of White Collar!! Oh and where are the Emmy nods for him already? :)

  17. Deena says:

    I adore this man, I love White Collar and I cannot wait for Magic Mike. If he is at not least nominated for his work on Glee there is something seriously wrong as he was brilliant.

    Piper Perabo & Callie Thorne were nominated for Golden Globes for their work on USA shows but The Emmys give no love. White Collar & In Plain Sight should be given some recognition.

  18. WCfan says:

    Talk about White Collar and Emmys… this scene convinced me http://youtu.be/zPAY_ccJ4VA

  19. Betty says:

    Love WC, all of the characters play so well off each other, a real closeness to them. WC reminds me of It Takes a Thief from many moons ago but, that character didn’t have too many close to him. Neal has “family” on WC. Matt Bomer should get the Emmy nod for Glee because that character was amazing and funny. USA shows are great and I watch them, don’t care that the mainstream doesn’t get them because I do!

  20. Tiffany says:

    I love this man so so much! He’s so charming! Can’t wait to see the new season of White Collar and I really wanna see more Cooper Anderson in Glee season 4!!!

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