Created by Jeff Eastin, the USA Network series White Collar is coming to an end, after six seasons. In the explosive series finale, “Au Revoir,” FBI Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) gets involved in a dangerous con against the Pink Panthers, in order to help Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) pull off a risky heist. Meanwhile, Neal has designed a new plan that will serve the interest of the Pink Panthers and himself, with his goal being to permanently rid himself of an ankle bracelet and free himself of his ties to the FBI. And whether it’s all resolved in the end or not, it’s been a great ride, watching two very different men form a very unlikely friendship.
During this recent interview with press to talk about the series finale and what being a part of the show has meant to them, co-stars Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay talked about watching until the final second of the episode, whether they’re personally satisfied with the show’s ending, what it was like to do the last scenes of the last episode, what they took home from the set, why their characters had such a successful partnership, their favorite moments, what they’ll miss most, what they’ve learned from each other, whether there might ever be a movie, and what they’re looking to do, in the future. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Question: What can you say to tease the series finale?
TIM DeKAY: Do not walk away, and I know you wouldn’t anyway, but do not walk away until the final second of the episode. We’ve got some great twists and turns, and some wonderful moments between everybody. I think it hits on all the tones that have made White Collar what it is. There is a great familial sense to this episode. Certainly, the heist in this instance is wonderful. And many questions that people have had, throughout the seasons, will be answered.
How much input did you guys have into the series finale?
MATT BOMER: We heard a lot of ideas being bandied about, and we threw in our two cents. It ended up becoming a soup that everybody had thrown a few ingredients into. So, I don’t think Tim or I could take any personal or professional responsibility for it, but they were definitely open to our input.
DeKAY: It’s not as if the two of us ever sat down and said, “Hey, how are we going to end this?” It was just one of these things that came about. Throughout the process, Jeff was open to our ideas and listened to our rhythms, both as Peter and Neal, and as Tim and Matt. He was not precious with his words. I think that was a key to the show’s success, at the beginning.
Are you personally satisfied with the ending for the series?
DeKAY: I’m very satisfied with the ending of the series. One can never be satisfied with the ending of a project that they loved, but creatively, since we had to end it, I feel that we gave a great, exciting twist, and an ending that I believe will surprise everyone.
BOMER: That’s a complicated question because you’re wrapping up so many things in such a short period of time. I was really satisfied, in some ways. In some ways, I would have been interested to explore other avenues, as well. I think there were still directions to go, but I think the way they wrapped it up was really well done, in the sense that they didn’t try to tie everything up in a nice bow. They really left some things open-ended and left a lot up the viewer’s imagination, which I always think is more potent than anything you could put down on a piece of paper.
How was shooting the last episode and doing those last couple of scenes? Was everybody welled up with emotion?
DeKAY: It was similar to senior week in high school, when you still had a whole bunch of finals and you had to do well in the classroom. Those were the scenes that you wanted to do well. What was interesting was that every time somebody would finish, the first AD would always make an announcement and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, that’s an episode wrap on this person,” and then the whole crew would applaud. For every episode, it’s a nice tradition that television has. In this instance, the first AD would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, that is a series wrap on whomever.” And then, of course, the tears would start flow. Each actor wanted to somewhat publicly thank the cast and crew, and just share what the series meant to them. So, that was lovely. The last shot of the series was a scene between Matt and me. We both got to speak, and everybody was crying. And then, they brought out a cake. It was lovely because the cast and crew became such a family. It was just a joy to go to work.
BOMER: It was really emotional. I’m so glad that most of us, if not all of us, were able to process a lot of that, in the moment, as opposed to just finding yourself driving down a street in L.A. five months later, and bursting into tears. It was great. I’m so grateful. It’s so easy to focus on how much we’ll miss everybody, and I will, but I just feel like we’re all so lucky that we got to do this for six seasons. Business relationship and friendships were created that will last a lifetime. So, there’s a lot more to be grateful for. then there is to be sad about.
Was there anything that you took home with you from the set to commemorate the experience?
DeKAY: There were two badges that Peter Burke had, and I took home one. I took home a number of suits because they were built for me by special tailors. And then, there was a painting that was in the hallway. I don’t think anybody has ever seen it. I don’t think it ever aired, except for maybe a side of the painting. But there was a painting in the hallway, in the little vestibule before you entered Neil’s apartment. Neil and Mozzie had this scene, and I entered half-way through the scene. I was just waiting in that vestibule for my cue to enter, and I would look at this one painting. It’s a great painting of this couple in a horse-drawn sleigh, in the snow. Within the first few episodes of the first season, I thought, “I’m going to take this home when this show ends because I like it.” So, I did.
BOMER: I took a painting of a harem from Neal’s apartment. I took the bust of Socrates and gave it to Jeff Eastin as a wrap gift. I also took a great antique map of Manhattan that Neal had on his wall.
Why do you think Neal and Peter were such a successful partnership?
BOMER: Because of Tim DeKay.
DeKAY: No because of Matt Bomer. His spirit, his kindness, and his grace. Honestly, I think the key to Neal and Peter certainly started with the writing. Jeff Eastin wrote these great guys. And Matt and I work extremely well together. We respect each other. and we listen to each other. I think the fun that we have working together comes across as Peter and Neal having a good time working together, as well. It’s just all inherent in the writing. It’s very interesting to watch these two guys that you would not think would get along, but they do. It’s an unlikely partnership.
BOMER: It really did start with the writing. I knew from the first time that Tim and I read together that we had somewhat of an understanding of the yin and yang of these two people, with not only what made them different, but what made them want to be the same, in certain ways. And we were lucky enough to have Jeff, who was willing to listen to us, and we were able to listen to him and just bounce ideas off of each other. We just had a blast doing it together.
Matt, what is your favorite bromance moment between Neal and Peter?
BOMER: The one moment that really sticks out to me is the finale of the first season. I always thought that the strongest the bromance got was when Neal was about to leave and go off with Kate in the airplane. He was basically saying goodbye to Peter. And in that moment, I think he realized, for the first time in his life, that he had a friendship with someone who was actually remotely stable and had a healthy sense of boundaries and was someone who he knew that he could learn a lot about being a good human being from. That was an experience that I don’t think he got with a lot of people in the world, so that moment was probably my favorite bromance moment to play.
Out of all the episodes you shot, do you have one that stands out as a favorite?
DeKAY: Well, I’d have to say the pilot, but that almost seems separate. There are some moments that I did not think would be my favorite, like during the Nazi sub episode, that I enjoyed. They were all my favorite. They’re like children to me. I love them each and every one of them.
BOMER: It’s like asking me which is my favorite finger. We had six years of compiled memories. It’s tough to pick one thing. If I had to encapsulate one experience, it would probably be the pilot because you have a lot more time and you’re establishing all these relationships, and everything is so fresh and new. That was definitely a really magical time. But this was just one of those rare jobs where there wasn’t a single day that went by that I wasn’t enjoying myself, if not the entire day, than most of it. It’s impossible to really boil it down to just one episode or one moment.
If you guys could have played writer, are there any story arcs or adventures that you would have loved your character to go on?
BOMER: I feel like there are always a lot of directions that your character could go. But my favorite scenes the writers wrote were typically the walk-and-talks that Tim and I would have. There’s so much skill involved in a scene like that, with the rhythm in New York City and filming it on an active street. I would be intimidated, as a writer, to try to even attempt that. And our entire staff did such an incredible job of capturing that camaraderie and that dynamic. Those were always my favorite. You can always think of things that could have happened or would have happened, but I was always really excited on those days, to do those scenes, because I knew something fun was going to happen and Tim was going to surprise me with something, and that we would both have a smile on our face, at the end of the scene.
DeKAY: While they were the most challenging, they were the most satisfying, once you finished them because there were a lot of factors, one of which was space. The writers always wrote much more than what was allowed, so it would be a dance of figuring out when we could stop. We were always up against the clock.
What are you going to miss the most from the show, overall?
BOMER: That’s a really dense question to consolidate into a soundbite, but I would say that, personally, I’ll really miss the camaraderie that we all had on set. Professionally, I’ll miss getting to play such a rich character. And selfishly, I’ll miss getting to wear all of those great suits.
Having spent so much time with each other, over the past few years, what have you guys learned from each other?
BOMER: I learned from Tim the kind of person I should be on set. I learned how to be a morning person, thanks to this job, because I never was, and Tim just is. And I learned a tremendous amount about acting from him. Every day, I learned something different from him, as an actor. But I also think I learned just as much about how to handle yourself on set, on a day-to-day basis.
DeKAY: I learned that Matt’s work ethic is unmatched. I’ve yet to see anybody who works harder than Matt. He’s never satisfied, which is something none of us are, as artists. There’s always one more take. I’m glad that neither one of us ever allowed or accepted it to be just satisfactory. I learned another kind of comedy from Matt. Matt is so specific, and just brilliant and hilarious. I think we all learn from each other. The key is to continue to learn, and always be open to the next person who comes your way and shares a scene with you.
Do you think there will ever be a movie, in the future?
DeKAY: I don’t know. That’s a good question. In the past, I would have said no, I don’t see that being a possibility, but Veronica Mars broke the mold with that. So, I’m not going to say that it would be impossible. I certainly would entertain that possibility. But right now, there aren’t any plans to have a movie. Gosh, that would be fun.
BOMER: Honestly, if they came to us with the proposition, then I would definitely want to do it, just to get the chance to work with Tim, Willie [Garson], Marsha [Thomas], Sharif [Atkins] and Tiffani [Thiessen] again. But, I have no idea.
Tim, you’ve already done Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but are there any types of roles that you’re looking to do?
DeKAY: I’m trying to get a Christmas movie made that I would be directing. I’ve also been talking to Fox Studios because they have some projects that they would like me to pursue with them for television, as an actor, which are very interesting. There’s also a western that I will be shooting this spring, where I play a dark character. I look forward to playing somebody dark. He’s certainly not an FBI agent. Far from it. As an actor, you always look for something where the character or story is great, and some of these projects that I’ve got coming up are both. So, while I will miss playing Peter greatly, I look forward to different kinds of roles.
Matt, what’s on your bucket list for the next couple of years?
BOMER: Oh, goodness. There are so many things I want to do. I’d like to really make the Montgomery Clift biopic happen. I’d like to get a chance to wear two different hats in the business. I also think it would be really great to do an adaptation of a great novel.
The series finale of White Collar airs on USA Network on Thursday, December 18th.