Cable procedurals are famous for their ripped-from-the-headlines plots, but when USA debuted White Collar, starring Matt Bomer as a white-collar criminal-turned-sleuth, in the wake of Madoff, well.... "That was completely fortuitous!" Bomer laughs. "We did the pilot, and shortly thereafter the Madoff thing went down. I just thought to myself, 'Wow, this is really out there in the zeitgeist right now.'"
As Neal Caffrey, an ex-con whose sentence is commuted in exchange for helping the FBI put away other criminals, Bomer has the sort of reckless charm not often associated with the stern, sad-eyed federal agent. "I watched The Hustler, The Sting, and To Catch a Thief," he says of his research into the role. "But I also tried to throw in a little bit of Ferris Bueller and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours." Bueller with a badge? "I like characters with flaws, who have shadow," Bomer explains.
He was a high-school football player in
small-town Spring, Texas -- Friday Night Lights
country -- an hour outside of Houston, when
the acting bug first bit. "I started acting professionally
when I was 17. I quit the team and did
a production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the
Alley Theatre in Houston. I used to drive down
at the end of the school day, do the show, do
my homework during intermission and drive
an hour back to Spring to go to school the next
day." The footballers didn't object. "I think
they understood that this was what I wanted to
do with my life," he says. Of course, he goes on
with a smile, "If I had been the All-State quarterback,
they would have had some objections
to my playing the young collector in Streetcar."
Matthew wears a blazer and pants by Calvin Klein Collection and shirt by Converse by John Varvatos