Matt Bomer, hot new star of White Collar, credits CMU for preparing him for the real world.
By Leslie Hoffman
I first met Matt Bomer on a Sunday afternoon, at home, reading in my living room. Without even knowing who he was, I stared into his bright blue eyes on a full-page advertisement in The New York Times. He mesmerized me.
The thing is, I could have met him long before he stepped into the starring role of White Collar, the hit new series on the USA Network that was being advertised. I could have bumped into him and his friends at brunch at the Shadyside Pamela’s. I could have run into him late night, ordering French fries at the Original in Oakland. Or, I could have caught him onstage in a production of And the World Goes Round at Carnegie Mellon University, as he belted out a crowd-rousing version of “Wilkommen” from Cabaret.
Bomer is one of many CMU alumni that populate prime time, such as fellow actors and friends Zach Quinto on Heroes and Cote De Pablo on NCIS, as well as many more, including Aaron Staton on Mad Men, Abby Brammell on The Unit, Rhys Coiro on 24 and Entourage, and Alex Cole and Van Hansis on As The World Turns. The soft-spoken gentleman from Texas credits CMU, saying that the school’s drama program “prepared me for the real world.”
“It was a real departure for me. I thought I was going to go straight to New York, and I’m glad that I didn’t,” Bomer tells me, actually calling from New York City, where White Collar is filmed. “Pittsburgh was a good middle ground for me. It is a city that grew on me over the four years I was there. It’s a beautiful city with an incredible history, and the more time that I spent there, the more that I loved it.”
On White Collar, Bomer plays Neal Caffrey, a con man who the FBI releases from prison in order to help them catch other art thieves, counterfeiters, and bank robbers. His “boss,” FBI agent Peter Burke, is played by Tim DeKay, Burke’s wife is played by Tiffani Thiessen, and Neal’s “partner in crime,” Mozzie, is played by Willie Garson, of Sex and the City fame. White Collar, which launched last fall as one of the top rated shows on cable television, is engaging and falls along the lines of other popular shows with a salient male crime-solving lead, such as The Mentalist and Castle. Bomer’s character is the standout: funny, charming, intelligent, seemingly capable of achieving the impossible, and, oh yeah, devastatingly handsome.
In that way, the character and the actor are the same.
“The show is fascinating; there is so much of the real Matt Bomer in White Collar. It’s a perfect fit,” says Gary Kline, Bomer’s voice and singing professor at CMU.
The actor’s CMU voice coach, Don Wadsworth agrees. “You know, he’s very right for a character like Neal in White Collar who has to be super charming. Although, Matt is sincerely super charming and his character might be a little more devious. But he’s figured out how to make that bridge between who he really is and a subtle adjustment for that character’s past and that character’s devious nature,” Wadsworth says.