USA Network’s hit original series White Collar returns for Season 2 on July 13th. Focusing on the unusual partnership between a con artist and an FBI agent, this season will see reformed thief Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) struggling to deal with the death of the woman he loved, and leaving Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) to wonder just how well he’s holding it together.
Since it’s premiere, White Collar has been a favorite among both critics and fans, who love the mix of humor and drama, and the great chemistry between the cast. During a recent interview, co-stars Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay talked about their evolving characters, giving pay-offs to their viewers, the new additions to the cast for Season 2 and whether Matt’s White Collar character, Neal Caffrey, could take his Chuck character, Bryce Larkin in a fight. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Matt: I love that Jeff Eastin answers the question he asked in the first episode. I agree that there were big pay-offs. 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?” Fortunately, we have a great writer in Jeff Eastin, who likes to answer the questions he presents pretty concisely and pretty briefly, and I’m just happy to be along for the ride.
How do you guys see Neal and Peter’s relationship shifting and evolving now, especially with the absence of Kate and Mozzie having a little bit more of a role now?
Tim: I think it’s like any other relationship that changes and evolves. 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. But, I think that’s to Jeff Eastin’s credit. People have said, “Oh, this is a buddy-cop relationship that these two have.” Yes, I think it is, but it’s much more than that and that’s because Jeff Eastin has said, “No, no, no. I want it to be more than ,” and I think he’s written something more than that.
Matt: I would echo that sentiment and just say that it’s about two guys who have a mutual respect for each other and 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.
What’s it been like to get to work with Willie Garson more this season?
Tim: It’s great. 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. He’s also one of those guys who goes above and beyond, every so often, and Peter hates to say it, but he says thank you to him. Even though Mozzie is a conspiracy theorist, and there is a combative element between Mozzie and Peter, Peter would never not trust him. There isn’t that element of violence, and because that element is not there, 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 lee-way in the relationship.
Matt: I think Willie is great and fun, and he always brings something extra to the role. 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, admires and likes working with, in two very different ways, come together. He’s the intermediary in their dynamic, at times, and he also watches them get along famously, at other times.
Matt, how is Neal dealing with Kate’s death?
Matt: What I think those particular events set in motion this season is that Neal’s big struggle is between doing what’s legally right and what he thinks is just. 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.
How do you feel about the new additions to the cast?
Matt: 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, she’s gorgeous and she’s great to have on this show. And then, we have Hilarie Burton, who makes a recurring guest arc this season as a high-class insurance repo man, out to settle an old score between herself and Neal. It’s fun, contentious and slightly flirtatious.
Matt, do you think Neal Caffrey could take down your Chuck character, Bryce Larkin, in a fight?
Matt: Neal could outsmart Bryce, but if you’re talking about a UFC cage match, Bryce would definitely win.
Matt, Jeff Eastin teased has said that your fabulous co-star, Diahann Carroll, would be singing on an episode this season. Has that already been shot?
Matt: 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 seven episodes to find out.
Do you guys always know the plot twists are coming ahead of time, so you can play that, or are you in the dark about the upcoming plot lines?
Tim: 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 play it. The one for the mid-season came up on me, only because I think we’ve been so entrenched in shooting these first eight episodes, that when I got the next episode, I was like, “Oh, wow!” 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. At the beginning of the year, I just talk with Jeff and say, “What’s the overall motivation for Neal for this season?,” and then we go from there. I get pleasantly surprised when I get the script, five minutes before we shoot it.
With the great chemistry that you guys have, what is your relationship like in real life and do you spend time together outside of the show?
Matt: I don’t let Tim look at me, unless we’re shooting.
Tim: Yes, I know the rule. Matt will have production assistants come up to me and remind me, “Mr. Bomer does not want you to make eye contact with him.”
Matt: Until they call action. No. Tim is actually my life coach. He doesn’t know it, but he is. I rely on him for advice and information on life, on a seven day a week basis.
Tim: We have a very good time.
Matt: There aren’t many days when we’re not laughing pretty hard, so how could we complain?
If you were asked to be a character witness for each other’s character, what would you say?
Tim: It’s going to seem odd, but this is my first instinct and I think I have to go with it. Neal is the smartest individual Peter has met, and he’s one of the most devoted. Peter sees something in Neal that he respects and adores, for lack of a better word. He sees a strong devotion in Neal. Look how devoted he was to Kate. 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.
Matt: Neal would say that Peter is incredibly intelligent, dedicated, devoted, a family man. He has the white picket fence existence that Neal completely admires and respects and wishes that he could have, but doesn’t really, ultimately, believe that he can. And, he’s funny and puts up with Neal’s bull.
Matt, the show’s definitely put you out there and everybody knows who you are now. Have you adjusted to the scrutiny on you and your personal life, through all this?
Matt: 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 personal and it’s not for me to hock, or shop around to the highest bidder. Plus, it could never live up to the amazing mythology that everyone online has created for me, so I’ll keep mum about it.
What is it like to be on a successful show, on such a successful cable network?
Matt: Thankfully, I’m so busy with work that I don’t have time to process too much of that stuff. It’s great that people are responding to the show and Jeff Eastin’s writing. We work really hard on it, and we’re really proud of the stuff we’re working hard to put out there. Thankfully, or hopefully, the word is getting out.