White Collar‘s Matt Bomer and Time Dekay talk about how their characters Neal Caffrey and Peter Burker, respectively, will evolve during the shows 5th season. With all of the twists, turns and excitement we experienced during the hour long premiere last Thursday, it sounds like the show has no intention of slowing down.
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Q: My first question is about your new handler, specifically Warren Kole, and could you tell us a little bit about how Neal handles this, what’s the chemistry like with you guys, and when are we first going to meet him?
Bomer: Neal’s initial reaction to Warren’s character Siegel is one of trepidation because he is very by-the-books, by-the-numbers, and he’s an agent who’s gotten to where he is because he plays by the rules. And that’s – it’s obviously very threatening to Neal. And Warren did a great job of bringing lots of different aspects to the character and somehow making him charming and entertaining at the same time as being sort of a paint-inside-the-lines guy.
Q: Tim, could you talk about your relationship and how it will be with this character? Are you friends with him?
DeKay: Well, Peter was – he was concerned about this guy even though he brought him on and felt that he would be right for Neal because he felt that Neal needed somebody with – that could give some tough love from a – that has a distance to Neal. Peter thought somebody from outside the New York Division would be better.
But there were some – there was trepidation as well on Peter’s part because with that, with handing over the reins, he no longer get to, you know, no longer gets awry. And that’s something Peter was going to miss. But as Matt said, I thought Warren did a fantastic job playing the role, and was able to find the right tenor for what was needed on our show and the kind of genre that we have.
Q: What is that like for you guys to realize that your show has had that kind of impact all over the world? And what is it about the show that brings people in to watch a show like White Collar?
DeKay: Well, I can certainly speak to how it feels to know that the show is welcome in many parts of the world. It’s wonderful. I love it when I’m in New York or filming in New York and somebody from another country comes up and starts talking about an episode or is, you know, is complimentary to the show. I just – I think it’s great that there’s something about this relationship between the, you know, the cool criminal and the lawmen that is so universal.
Bomer: Yes, I had a really pivotal moment when we were filming a scene in Central Park this season and in between I was trying to take some time to visit with some fans and take pictures and things, and it was like a map of the world between the pictures I was taking. One couple would be from Japan, the next was from Italy, the next was from Amsterdam. And it just went on and on.
And it was a really profound moment for me in terms of, you know, things you learn to appreciate as a show continues on into a fifth season, is that, you know, there’s something the writers have created and helpfully we have too in the relationships and the characters that does transcend cultural or idiosyncratic bounds of one country or another and seems to relate to a lot of different people.
Q: Neal and Peter has switched places for all intents and purposes. We’ve got Peter in the orange jumpsuit, he’s locked up, Neal is out. How does that play out?
Bomer: Yes. There was a moment when we were filming a scene in the prison and I saw Tim in an orange jumpsuit, you know, clearly complete role reversal and the coin being flipped. And I found that really interesting. Neal can obviously relate in many ways. He has a real sense of responsibility about everything that’s transpired, even though his father was largely responsible. He’s certainly feeling the weight of that as well.
And as someone who’s been where Peter is, I think that resonates with him even more, and makes him dig even deeper into his bag of tricks to figure out how to fix it. Like a typical guy, he wants to fix everything. And…
Bomer: And from an actor’s perspective, I guess it wasn’t terribly different because we had – I guess it was just more surreal for me personally because we had filmed the opposite side of the coin before, so, first of all, Tim looks great in orange. Fantastic color for him. And secondly, you know, it was a bit of a – it was a trip to see him on the other side of things and see how he handles it.
Q: I love the interaction in past seasons between you and Treat Williams who portrays your father… Will we be seeing that again this season?
Bomer: That was a storyline that I feel like needed to be fleshed out at some point, you know, at a certain point as television series progress, and have everybody get a little bit more into people’s backstories. I think with someone like Neal, it’s a little dangerous if we start to know too much about him because he is, you know, essentially, Jeff said, an almost a fantastical character in some ways.
Q: Finally, with Peter ending up in jail, how is that going to affect his relationship with Elizabeth?
DeKay: It affects it greatly, and Elizabeth’s main concern is to get her husband back regardless of what it means to his career, what it means to anything. She just wants her husband back and out of prison.
Matt Bomer, White Collar – Photo of Matt Bomer, White Collar Courtesy of © NBC Universal, Inc.
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