He plays Mozzie, Neal’s best friend and mysterious co-hort in crime, on the USA hit White Collar. But in real life there’s nothing suspicious about Willie Garson. The New Jersey born actor has been acting on TV since the mid 1980’s with roles in such shows as Mr. Belvedere, Quantum Leap and NYPD Blue. More recently he’s been seen on John from Cincinnati and had a role in Sex and the City 2. Now he’s preparing for White Collar’s second season, but first he sat down with reporters to give us the inside scoop.
So, spill Willie. What can you tell us about Mozzie’s place in the new season?
Willie: One of the biggest challenges that the show had in Season One [was] how much the FBI was allowed to be aware of Mozzie and what Mozzie, and the way he operates, within and about the law, is available for use by the FBI. They solved that early on that this is Peter’s party, and he can run it as he likes. What we find at the beginning of Season Two is that now Peter can actually use Mozzie in moderation, so, we’ll be playing a lot more with that. We’re slowly seeing every episode, a little bit more of what Mozzie’s about, what makes him tick, how he got this way. We’re going to see where he even stays in this episode that we’re shooting right now, which is very intriguing.
What’s the best part about playing Mozzie?
Willie: I love that he gets to play act all the time. So, Mozzie gets to play around as being different people, different characters, which is awesome. Probably, with his— I don’t want to say “intelligence,” because that sounds egotistical, but I mean, he definitely has a lot of my cynicism. He’s very well read, which I like to do. He definitely has his strong opinions, which is probably one of the closest roles to myself that I’ve played.
White Collar has a real sense of style, particularly when it comes to Neal and his wardrobe. But what about Mozzie’s style?
Willie: We definitely talk about wardrobe a lot. I have some kind of fashion, iconography – so, I can’t be just some shlumpy guy. So, while Mozzie is definitely interesting and studied and can never look homeless, we call it homeless chic. His stuff— He could have found it in a dumpster or he could have bought it—for $5000 shirt.
You’ve worked on an incredible number of TV shows in your career. If you could choose any show in the history of TV to appear on, what would it be?
Willie: I would have to go with Playhouse 90 – all those shows from the 50’s with live theatre and the impact that those shows would have. There were three channels. Literally, every single person in the country was watching it. It was a collective consciousness about, “Oh, did you see blah, blah, blah, last night?” That would have been unbelievable. Those guys were kings. I would have loved that.
Time to spill the beans. What’s it like working with Tiffani Thiesen, Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer?
Willie: I’ve been friends with Tiffani for a long time. So, this is fun that we get to do this together. With Tim, it’s terrible. They’re hammy; they’re horrible people; no, it’s always great. I have become very close, obviously, to Matt. We do most of our stuff together. I’ve been friends with Tim for 20 years, so we have an awful lot of fun on this show. We’re very musical. A lot of singing on this show, which I’m sure people would be shocked. We’re doing a crime version of Glee, but you’re not going to see all that on screen.
To that we all say, what a shame!
White Collar returns Tuesday, July 13 at 9:00 on USA Network.
Watch promos, play games and check out the live chat Matt and Tim did last season on the White Collar Official Web Page.
Behind on your White Collar viewing? You can download the whole first season on iTunes or buy the first season on DVD from Amazon. It streets on July 13.