It’s the hottest new show on the USA Network and it’s coming back on Tuesday, January 19th. It’s White Collar and I’ve got the scoop on the series straight from the two stars – the charming and talented Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay.
Matt plays con man and thief Neal Caffrey who’s forced to work with the FBI if he wants to stay out of jail. Tim DeKay plays FBI agent Peter Burke, the only cop to ever nab Neal and now they’re working together to solve some major crimes.
Tim and Matt sat down with reporters last week to chat about the new season and it was clear from the tone of the call that these guys have great chemistry both on screen and off. Can you comment on that, guys?
Matt Bomer: We always have fun and I can’t remember a day we have not been laughing and having a good time. I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for both of us and say that we both have been in the business long enough to appreciate what we’ve got going on this show and the fact that we like to work with each other so much and the fact that we have a network behind us. It’s just been easy and fun from day one for me. Tim is just a great guy, the kind of actor you feel really safe working with because he just sort of says yes to whatever you bring to the table and then goes with it.
Tim DeKay: That’s the way I feel about Matt, to be honest with you. I really do. It is true, but even more importantly; Matt told me that I’m a good singer. I haven’t heard that in a long time. Matt complimented me; he said that I can hold onto the melody while he harmonizes, which I never knew was a difficult thing to do. Now I feel like I’ve got that in my back pocket.
Matt Bomer: It’s true.
Tim DeKay: Here’s the thing. You can ask; I’ll speak for both of us on this one as well, which echoes what Matt is saying. In order to be able to work with somebody in acting, it’s going to sound judgmental and I hope it doesn’t, but you’ve first got to think that person’s a good actor before you can enjoy working with them. I guess that goes with the trust. I like this person, the way they work; I think they’re a good actor. Great, that is done now we can just go from there and see what happens and listen and play together.
Matt Bomer: Agreed.
MATT BOMER FOR THE DEFENSE
Both Neal and even Peter do somethings that might be considered out of line. Is there anything you don’t like about your characters?
Matt Bomer: I think you always have to be your character’s defense attorney. As an actor you have to find what’s likable about them and you have to empathize with them enough that you understand why they do what they do. I never really judge anything he did, but what I like about the character was that he wasn’t a goody-two-shoes and he didn’t just jump over to the other side of the law and become a good guy. I like the fact that he struggles with it and that he’s human and that he has real Achilles’ heel in terms of his sloppy romantic life. That’s where he makes bad decisions. For me those are the really fun parts of the character to get to play.
Tim DeKay: I’ve always liked Neal. I think Peter has always liked Neal. I’m looking through Peter’s glasses as well. I’m sometimes jealous of Neal. Peter can get jealous of that kind of life and sometimes doesn’t understand it. Not jealous that he breaks the law, but jealous that he has that carefree attitude that he can walk in a place with his hat on and be free about that. There’s something that Peter can’t quite, that’s just not in him. He wishes he had it. Peter likes Neal a lot and I think that’s a big part of what keeps Peter rooting for Neal when maybe he shouldn’t on the surface.
Even though they’re on opposite sides of the law, Peter and Neal have learned to trust each other. . . to some extent, anyway. Can you talk about that?
Matt Bomer: In terms of trust, I think that Peter is the first person in Neal’s life that he’s really been able to have that with, but I also think it’s an interesting dynamic that’s always kind of liquid between the two of them given their history and given the fact that Neal’s not really ready to jump over to the other side of the moral spectrum immediately. It’s something that he’s struggling with and it’s kind of his journey on the second half of the first season to figure out if I’m going to buckle down and be with the FBI or am I going to do whatever I have to do, legal or not, to find Kate. I think the trust thing is sort of everything in the relationship, but as opposed to normal relationships where it can be a little bit more black and white, in this particular relationship, it can be more liquid. He has more trust for Peter than he’s ever had for anybody else.
Tim DeKay: As far as the protection that Peter has for Neal, I like that observation a lot. At first, Peter’s protection of Neal was a bit self-centered. He’s protecting himself because he made that decision to take this guy out. But as time has gone on he’s gotten to know Neal in a different way and is now protecting him because he sees a great potential in this guy. He’s protecting him on more than just a professional level.
THE STYLE POLICE
White Collar has an unusual sense of style, very much like a classic movie from the 40’s. How does that style suit the two of you?
Tim DeKay: I think that Stephanie Maslansky, who’s the costume designer, and the rest of the wardrobe team do a great job. They put me in mostly Brooks Brothers suits, a couple Burberry suits. For the most part they certainly can’t be too flashy. We keep pushing the envelope with ties. That’s what Stephanie keeps saying. Every time we get too flashy of a tie we get a note from USA Network.
I love wearing a suit because I hardly ever wear a suit in real life. And every time I put on a suit I think I should wear this more often. I like wearing a suit. It heightens wherever I’m headed to. That’s why I love putting on a suit for Peter because it puts me in a different world than my own. I used to dress up; my dad teases me. He says this show’s haunting me because when I was five years old and I wanted to buy a suit and a fedora and there’s a picture of me somewhere like that, I’m leaning up against the coffee table, but kind of in a cool way with my legs crossed and I’ve got the fedora on. I’m about ready to walk up the street and ask Julie Buchanan if she wanted to take a walk around the block. This all just came back to me right now. That’s where it all began, enjoying wearing a suit.
Matt Bomer: I’m definitely more of a T-shirt and jeans kind of guy. For me, I’ve learned a lot from Neal’s wardrobe. The fun part for me is just that it helps me get into the character. When you dress a certain way especially something as specific as Neal’s fascination with the Rat Pack, sort of the Marcello Mastroianni nicely cut suits with the thin ties and stuff like that. It just helps me feel like I’m kind of slipping into the skin of the character and forms the way he moves and things like that. I always like to try to make an effort if I have to dress up nice, but I’ve definitely learned that you get treated a little bit differently when you’re wearing a suit. I’m definitely trying to make the effort to dress up a little bit more.
Tim DeKay: You are trying to do that?
Matt Bomer: I’m trying. On any given day I’m probably in a T-shirt and jeans, but –.
Tim DeKay: I’m trying to do that, too. I think part of it is because when you’re in New York and the weather is a factor, you can kind of layer. Maybe I’ll wear this certain kind of overcoat or sweater. In L.A. it’s just what T-shirt, long sleeve or short sleeve. The other thing that I’ve noticed with the wardrobe that they give Matt is just, I’ll be the first to say it, they’re going to trap themselves because he can only wear a certain kind of suit because it comes from June’s closet. I was so wrong with that. It’s unbelievable the variations of suits and ties and outfits that they’ve given Matt to wear.
Other than spiffy new outfits and ties, what can we expect from this half of the season?
Matt Bomer: Even more car accidents, lots of violence.
Tim DeKay: A lot of death scenes. I think the Martians come back.
Matt Bomer: They do. I think the intelligent procedurals continue, what I like to think of as intelligent procedurals as well as a lot of character development. In terms of my character, a lot of the stuff is coming to fruition that happened in the cliffhanger gets ironed out between me and Peter. Then my character really starts having to make the decision, is he going to operate for the law or is he going to do whatever it takes, against the law, operating outside of the legal system, to find Kate. That’s his struggle in the second half. He starts to push those boundaries a little bit more.
Thanks to Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay for taking the time to chat. Let’s reward them by watching White Collar. It’s clever, stylish and it’s got that “buddy show” thing covered. Give the mid-season premiere a try and you’ll be hooked for the rest of the season. All new episodes on a new night beginning Tuesday, January 19th, at 10:00/ 9:00 Central on USA Network.
Photos courtesy of USA