White Collar is back with an amazing 2nd season premiere tonight. The series stars Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey and Tim DeKay as Peter Burke (a ex-con artist and FBI agent respectively). Burke is the only to ever successfully catch Caffrey, and they form an unprecedented partnership. Slowly but surely they become friends who trust each other, even with Neal’s shady past. The season two premiere brings a whole new mystery to the table, a new regular cast member (former recurring star Marsha Thomason) and lots of Matt Bomer. I recently had the chance to visit the set of White Collar, where Matt Bomer chatted with us about the Neal/Peter dynamic, shooting in New York, and his newfound role as a sex symbol.
So, Hilarie [Burton, guest starring on the episode we saw taping] just told us that you were one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Now, there’s no way I can live up to that. But I paid her actually, before I came in here, so I guess I’ll have to cough it up now. That’s very sweet of her, and I think she’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World herself.
We had to start out believing that Neal really loved Kate and this whole thing. But as the time went on, and now with her dead, it turns into more of like, is she a symbol, is she a mystery? Because it seems a little bit more of an obsession that a love now?
Well, what I always loved about the character is that his romantic life is where he got sloppy. It’s sort of his tragic flaw, Achilles heel. So, I truly believe, I do think Neal is a little bit obsessive-compulsive in a lot of ways. I think that’s one of the benefits and probably drawbacks of being as intelligent as he is. I think he probably over thinks a lot of things. But yeah, she was definitely an obsession, but I think in his heart he truly believed that she was the one for him. And whether it’s rational or not at a certain point, is sort of irrelevant for him. So, yeah, I think in his heart and his mind it’s love.
And we talked about this with Peter, but one of the overarching themes of last season and this coming season seems to be one of trust.
Neal told Peter that he didn’t want to run anymore. In your mind, do you think if he would have stayed with Peter? Do you think that that trust relationship is going to continue to develop?
Well, it’s always been my hope for the character that he’d never just jump over to the other side of the moral spectrum. I hope he always stays in the gray area and loves it and enjoys it and he’s always testing his boundaries with Peter. But yeah, trust is really one of, if not the central theme of the show. It plays into every scene in all of the different characters, and when I’m approaching the work, whether it is with Kate, you know, at a certain point it’s like how much could I trust her last year? My trust for her came into question. My trust for Peter came into question. My trust for Mozzie came into question. So, it’s something that sort of shows its face a lot on the show in all the different relationships, and I hope it continues to be a central theme. Even with the introduction of Hilary’s character, immediately we have trust issues. So, I love it. It’s fun to play because there’s a surreptitious quality to it that as an actor is fun to play. You’ve got things to hide, and things are never—it’s like a good poker game. It’s never, you can’t ever take it at face value. There are always things going on underneath, and as an actor that’s really fun to play.
You play such a brilliant criminal mind, do you ever when you’re in a bank or something, does Neal kind of pop out and you know, I could take this place?
Well, you know, one of the real bonuses we have this season is that I now have an advisor, a con artist who advises me on set on a lot of things. So, I am getting a little bit more confident with my pick-pocketing skills, and I can actually pick a lock now. So, watch out. But as far as breaking into a bank, I’m not going to try to go there, because the main difference between me and Neal Caffrey is my ass will get caught.
Does any part of you wish that you were a smidgen less attractive?
You all need to come in here and see me before I go through hair and makeup, and then we can revisit this conversation. I don’t, to be honest with you, I mean, that’s sort of an impossible question to answer. That’s [I’m an] asshole on either front or completely fake. I don’t think about it. I mean, I think as human beings we have a tendency to see some of our drawbacks more than we see our benefits. So, I don’t ever, I’ve never really thought of myself as anything special in that regard. So, thank you for that question. It’s brightening my day a little bit, but I don’t really know how to answer it.