Confidence Man of Steel: Matt Bomer
On USA’s White Collar, which airs through October, Bomer plays Neal Caffrey, an upscale criminal turned FBI agent. The show is a breakout, as is Bomer, who’s one of the most buzzed-about stars of the last few TV seasons. Named People magazine’s “Sexiest Newcomer,” he was also featured as the “Must List Summer Crush” in Entertainment Weekly—tipping a water bottle over his torso with pinup panache, his abs rippling through a soaked T-shirt. And he landed the cover of TV Guide in June. He modestly attributes all the attention he’s getting to the winning character Collar’s producers created for him. “We can all be con artists at one time or another,” he says casually, taking a hearty swallow of iced coffee.
In person, Bomer looks a bit ruddier and slighter than on screen, more regular-guy; he’s one of those performers who seem to conduct electricity in front of a camera. In conversation, he’s engaged and engaging, with an actor’s expansiveness—much animation, many hand gestures—and a screenwriter’s vocabulary (he calls living in New York City after 9/11 “a diaspora” and the People accolade “flattering, but not a meritocratic achievement”). Overall, his vibe is that of the high-school jock everybody liked, who sat in the back of the cafeteria drawing in his notebook. Which is essentially what he was. [...]
In high school, he balanced athletics with school plays; he compares himself to the jock-turned-troubadour on TV’s Glee. (“I was a free agent, not an alpha male,” he says.) His frequent costar in stage productions like The Diary of Anne Frank and Platonov was Lee Pace, who recently starred in TV’s Pushing Daisies and appeared on the April 2008 cover of Houston magazine; the two still hang out. [...]
At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he majored in theater and music [and became bffs with ZQuinto], then moved to New York City, where he landed in early workshops of the Broadway hits Spring Awakening, Grey Gardens and Thoroughly Modern Millie. After 9/11, precarious finances forced him to drop out of the latter and take a job on Guiding Light; a year on the soap led to an audition for Superman Returns. “I screen-tested in the tights. The director wanted to hire me,” he says. “I was going to sign the three-picture deal.” [...]
Even though it was not to be his big break, his flirtation with the Man of Steel raised his profile. After starring on two highly anticipated but quickly expired series (Traveler and Tru Calling) and landing a small but showy role as a dapper spy on NBC’s Chuck, Bomer snared White Collar, which is now in its second season. [...]
In his spare time (he flies back to L.A. on weekends), Bomer writes (frustrated by the capriciousness of TV executives, he penned a pilot called Nashville, which attracted the attention of Brad Paisley), hangs out in a downtown jazz club (“I like to think it’s something Neal would do”), plugs into pop culture (the Scissor Sisters and Janelle Monae are on his iPod) and meditates in the parks on Manhattan’s west side. “I’ll sit out there, read, watch the sunset,” he says, “and remind myself of the things that are really important in life: family, friends, the people who are special to me.”
Turns out that is a subject—the special people—about which Bomer will say little. (Interviewers by now have learned not to take it personally. Last year, a Details writer probed as the actor steadfastly declined to comment. “I have a show and a network on my shoulders,” he said, explaining his silence.) But now that Collar is more established, as is Bomer, can he talk more freely about his personal life?
“No, because it’s personal,” he says with a laugh. “There are a lot of reasons. But the biggest reason is that my personal life is what’s most sacred to me, and I want it to stay sacred. It’s also the source of my greatest happiness. But the other people in my life didn’t necessarily choose to be in the spotlight. So for me to drag them into it would be inconsiderate, to say the least.”
He says this with great confidence and self-assurance; it’s something he’s clearly given thought to. “In terms of the profession in general, it’s not anything I’m afraid of,” Bomer continues. “Anyone who knows me, knows me—including everyone who’s on that set right around the corner. But when I look at actors onscreen, my favorites are the ones I can watch without thinking of the picture I just saw of them in the tabloids doing X, Y or Z. I can just get invested in the storytelling process.”
But it must be difficult, one might suggest, to avoid sharing the basic biographical information other actors mention so freely.
"No, it’s really not,” he says. “I don’t feel shut in, or cramped, or that I hide anything in my life. I’ve lived my life very openly and honestly, and that’s how I like it. I go to work, and sit down with you and other people in the media and talk about things that have to do with the job, and I go home and have my real life. It’s a whole separate entity that I get to enjoy, and it gives me proper perspective on the billboards and subway signs and magazine covers and all that. It prioritizes my life.”
After White Collar wraps for the season, Bomer plans to do a play. After that, “I want to let the compass of my career not be navigated by fame or wealth but by risk and creativity,” he says. “In any medium, TV, film, theater. Ideally, I’d get to do all three of those.”
His life, he says, has two discrete parts. “One is a complete maelstrom of creativity. There are times I feel like I’m living in the studio of Salvador Dali: My apartment is strewn with pages and pages of lines and notes … a lot of brainstorming and creativity and disorganization. And then there’s my family life, which is beautiful and rock-solid and chaotic in a whole different way.” [...]
You can read the full article here.
Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay filming in NYC (July 30th)
Let's remind ourselves of those ~rippling abs~ once more.
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