Wherever they go, White Collar’s [USA, Tuesdays, 9/8C] FBI Special Agent Peter Burke [Tim DeKay] and con man “consultant” Neal Caffrey [Matt Bomer] are the smartest guys in the room. This season starts off with one of the pair’s biggest challenges in a character called The Architect.
The comedy team of Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay [who joined us in progress] sat in on a truncated teleconference Q&A [when they have to be onset, they have to be onset] to talk about White Collar’s second season.
Watching the two episodes that were coming in, you did some time again.
Matt Bomer: Yes.
That’s kind of interesting. Then as that particular episode progresses, obviously Willie and Tim’s character have a conversation at the very end about how they’re kind of watching your back and making sure that you’re being able to adjust to the fact that Kate’s been killed, which is all this new information all in one episode that one has to process, and how is your character dealing with this?
Bomer: What I think those particular events sort of set in motion this season is that Neal’s big struggle is between doing what’s legally right and what he thinks is just. So his big struggle this season in terms of avenging Kate’s death is whether to do the right thing legally or what he feels is right and just.
Okay, and that’s pretty much how the season’s going to go?
Bomer: Well, in terms of that particular storyline; yes. Is that what you’re asking?
Well, yes, kind of. What I’m asking really kind of the justice that he is seeking versus what is legally doable given his personal situation, and having a nice little tag around his—the little thing around his ankle, makes it difficult to do that.
Bomer: Well, I think you just asked and summed up your own question.
Yes, I think I did. Sorry about that.
Bomer: Is there anything else I can answer for you?
Yes. You’ve got new additions to your cast.
Bomer: Yes. We’re very excited about that. First of all, we have Marsha Thomason back on a regular basis, which is wonderful. She’s a fantastic actress and gorgeous and so great to have on this show. And then we have Hilarie Burton who makes a recurring guest arc this season as sort of—I guess from my character’s eyes, she plays a high class repo man, an insurance repo man, who’s basically out to settle an old score between herself and Neal. So it’s kind of fun and contentious and slightly flirtatious and all those things, hopefully.
Matt, I just was wondering, so many of my magazines coming in the mail these days have you on the cover or featured very prominently. How does it sort of feel to be the center of the cable universe these days?
Bomer: Well, I don’t perceive myself that way in any light. Thankfully, I’m so busy with work that I don’t have time to process too much of that stuff. But it’s great that people are responding to the show and Jeff’s writing, most importantly, and know we’re hopefully getting the word about our show out there because we work really hard on it, and I speak for myself and Tim and the cast and Jeff when I say that we’re really proud of the stuff we’re working hard to put out there, and thankfully, or hopefully, the word is getting out.
I want to ask you sort of a, I guess, philosophical TV question. I really enjoyed season one, but there were a couple of things that I was kind of surprised to see. I mean, obviously you’ve been around TV. You know sort of that it takes a long time usually for there to be payoffs in a series, and I thought there were fairly big payoffs last year. You know, Peter, you guys had the mid season break. He could have been a bad guy. You sort of wrapped that up in the next episode. Neal and Kate; obviously that’s not going to happen now. What do you think about the payoffs and I guess the quick reveals for the audience?
Bomer: I love that Jeff Eastin answers the question he asked in the first episode, and I agree with you. There were big payoffs and I think Tim and I were both were looking at each other going, “Where are we going to go from here?” But then we did, and now we’re at the mid season finale this season going, “Oh my God! Where are we going to go from here?” So, fortunately we have a great writer in Jeff Eastin who likes to answer the questions he presents pretty concisely and pretty briefly, so I’m just happy to be along for the ride.
This question actually goes out to both of you and that’s how do you guys see Neal and Peter’s relationship kind of shifting and evolving now, especially with kind of the changing dynamics with Kate, and even with Mozzie having a little bit more of a role now?
Tim DeKay: I think it’s like any other relationship that changes and evolves, but at the base of it, I just get the feeling that these two care for each other very much, and with that, they’re going to have a good time together. They’re going to be hurt by each other, and are going to possibly not trust each other to greater degrees than previously or lesser degrees than previously. But I think that’s to Jeff Eastin’s credit, in writing a very complex—you know, people have said, “Oh, this is a buddy-cop relationship that these two have.” I think yes, it is. But, I think it’s much more than that and that’s because Jeff Eastin has said, “No, no, no. I want it to be more than that.” And I think he’s written something more than that.
Bomer: I would echo that sentiment and just say yes, it’s about two guys who have a mutual respect for each other, who have a lot of differences but who compensate for each other’s differences in interesting ways, and who always end up, at the end of the day, having a pretty good time together. But the one dynamic that’s always shifting and changing between our relationship and between the series at large is that of trust.
Well, my final question is just kind of a quick thing to satisfy both the White Collar and Chuck fan in me, and that’s Matt, do you think that Neal Caffrey could take down Bryce Larkin in a fight?
Bomer: Oh! Neal could outsmart him, but if you’re talking about a UFC cage match, Bryce would definitely win.
Hi guys! I’m happy that I have you both on the line. What’s up? My first question is for Matt. Jeff Eastin teased us that you and your fabulous co-star, Diahann Carroll, would be singing on an episode this season. Has it already been shot and what can you tell us about it?
Bomer: He teased me too. I’ve heard rumor. It would be an honor. She’s a legend and it’d be really, really fun to get to do something like that. I have no idea if it’s actually going to come to fruition. We still have eight episodes to find out or seven episodes to find out. So I guess as soon as I know, I’ll let you know.
And Tim, in episode two of season two, there was that running gag about you and the mustache. Was this the creation of the writers, or did you just show up one day a little fuzzy and inspire the episode?
DeKay: Yes, I showed up—that happens a lot. I’ll show up fuzzy and it will inspire people. No. It was completely by Jeff. I honestly think the twisted mind of Jeff Eastin thought, “Oh, I bet DeKay would look goofy with a mustache. Let me write that.”
It was a great episode. I’m really excited to see how the season— season one was such a solid season, but it just seems like, with these two episodes that we have been able to preview, the show is just getting better. And I’m really loving the banter between Peter and Neal. It’s just coming out to be—and we’re seeing a lot more Willie Garson, which I love. I’m very excited for the season. Good luck.
With a lot of these plot twists that come up anywhere in this season, do you guys always know they’re coming ahead of time so you can play that, or are you guys kind of in the dark too as well as the upcoming plot lines?
DeKay: Jeff Eastin is good in that he’ll tell me a plot twist that’s coming up if he thinks it would be something Peter would know ahead of time, and if it’s something that would be a surprise to Peter, I’ll tell Jeff, “Oh, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.” And then it’s exciting to read it and exciting to play it. This one kind of came up on me, the one for the mid season, only because I think we’ve been so entrenched in shooting these first eight episodes, that when I got the next episode—Oh wow! Oh right, this is the mid season, and then it was a page turner, I have to say.
Matt: I like not to know unless it’s something that I need to know specifically for how I color a performance, but at the beginning of the year, basically I just talk with Jeff and say, “What’s the overall motivation for Neal for this season?” And then we go from there, and I get pleasantly surprised when I get the script, five minutes before we shoot it.
And Matt, the show’s definitely put you out there and everybody kind of knows who you are now. Have you adjusted to the kind of scrutiny on you and your personal life through all this?
Bomer: To be honest with you, I don’t really pay any attention to it. My personal life is a source of incredible happiness for me, but it’s just that; it’s personal and I would never—it’s not for me to hock, or shop around to the highest bidder, and plus, it could never live up to the amazing mythology that everyone online has created for me. So, I’ll keep mum about it.
The two of you have this great onscreen chemistry, and I was wondering, what is your relationship like in real life and do you spend time together outside of the show?
Bomer: I don’t let Tim look at me, unless we’re shooting.
DeKay: Yes, it’s just better for me, that way I know the rule. Matt will have other production assistants come up to me and remind me, “Mr. Bomer does not want you to make eye contact with him.”
Bomer: Until they call action.
DeKay: Until they—
Bomer: No, Tim is actually my life coach. He doesn’t know it, but he is.
DeKay: Oh, likewise.
Bomer: I rely on him for advice and information on life on a seven day a week basis basically.
DeKay: We have a good time.
Bomer: We do.
DeKay: Yes, we have a very good time.
Bomer: There aren’t many days when we’re not laughing pretty hard, so how could we complain?
DeKay: There aren’t. Matt Bomer’s the funniest man—
So let’s just say that you guys were put on the stand and asked to be a character witness for each other’s characters. What would you say about them?
DeKay: Ah, so Peter would be a character witness for Neal?
Exactly, and vice-versa.
DeKay: It’s going to seem odd, but this is my first instinct and I think I have to go with it. One is smartest individual I’ve met. And two, one of the most devoted. Yes, he’s one of the—oh my gosh! I think because of this question, I’ve hit something here that I think that Peter sees in Neal; that he respects and adores, for lack of a better word.
Bomer: Oh, s…. We’ve got to do these blogger calls on a more regular basis.
DeKay: Yes. He sees a strong devotion in Neal. And it makes sense. Look how devoted he was to Kate. Look how strong he stayed with Kate and was devoted to her. And if he can do that for her, he can do that for the bureau, and certainly for his friends.
Makes sense. And what about the other way around? What does Neal think?
DeKay: Peter the player.
Bomer: He’s a player.
DeKay: He’s slept with every single woman in the bureau.
Bomer: One lady to the next, Peter. I would say that Peter is incredibly intelligent, dedicated, devoted, a family man. I mean, he has the white picket existence that I completely admire and respect and wish that I could have, but don’t really ultimately believe that I can.
DeKay: And Peter’s funny.
Bomer: And he’s funny!
DeKay: And he wears really good ties.
Bomer: And he puts up with my bull….
I wanted to ask what it’s like having Willie [as] Mozzie in more scenes and working with Peter, and you know, that for the season.
Bomer: He’s a real pain in the ….
DeKay: Yes, he is. It’s great because—I just love the relationship of Peter and Mozzie. He’s this nuisance, but we need him every so often, and he’s good to go to. And he’s also one of these guys who does some—he goes above and beyond every so often, and Peter hates to say it, but he says thank you to him.
And here’s the other thing about the world of White Collar is that even though Mozzie is a conspiracy theorist and there is a combative element between Mozzie and Peter, never, never, never would Peter ever not trust him with—no, let me rephrase this. There isn’t that element of violence, and because that element is not there between certainly Neal and Mozzie and Peter, it gives it great flexibility. It gives that relationship a great flexibility. Peter’s never worrying, “Oh, Mozzie might draw a gun on somebody.” That’s just not there. And because of that, you’ve got much more leeway in the relationship.
Bomer: I think Willie is great and fun and he always brings something extra to the role, and it’s been fun for Neal to get to bridge two worlds that were very different for him in the first season, and to see people who he respects and admires and likes working with in two very different ways, come together and sort of being the intermediary in their dynamic at times, and also watching them get along famously at other times.
The followup: Tim, when are we going to see you in a wet t-shirt…
DeKay: I don’t know what you’ll—if this weather keeps up, you will see Tim in a wet suit because I will just sweat through everything and you’ll see Peter dripping as he does a walk and talk with Neal.
Note: You can learn more about White Collar at the show’s website: http://www.usanetwork.com/series/whitecollar/