Actor Matt Bomer is central to Wednesday's penultimate episode of FX's The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (10 ET/PT), but viewers won't see him. He's has a new role: director.
Bomer (White Collar, The Normal Heart), 40, spoke to USA TODAY about his first-time gig directing the episode, "Creator/Destroyer," which looks at designer Versace and his killer, Andrew Cunanan, as pre-teens; working with his mega-producer friend Ryan Murphy; and the chances for a revival of his USA hit White Collar.
Question: How did this first-time directing assignment come about?
Bomer: I'd worked with Ryan several times. He knew I always would come into the set with reams of text work and research and he said, 'You should direct.' I thought it might be on American Horror Story, but he said Versace. I promptly passed out. When I came to, I said, 'Yes.' This was a four-month labor of love for me. I read over 3,000 pages of books. I met with director friends to get insight. I did an intensive with the DGA (Directors Guild of America). I shadowed two other directors of the show. So by the time I got on set, I was at least able to fake it till I made it.
Q: How did you approach Cunanan in this episode, which portrays a future killer and a future fashion icon as youths?
Bomer: "We’re all responsible for the choices we make, but it was a big question of this episode: Can we empathize with a monster when we see the circumstances of his life and the hand he was dealt? What makes one person a creator and one a killer?
Q: In April, you'll be on Broadway for a 50th-anniversary presentation of The Boys in the Band, a 1968 play about a group of gay men produced by Murphy and also starring Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons and Andrew Rannells.
Bomer: This is an important piece of our history. A lot of my LGBT history started with the AIDS movement, ACT UP and Torch Song Trilogy. I didn't know about pre-Stonewall (1969) gay life because so much was in the shadows. (Boys) isn't about all gay people in the 1960s, but a specific group on this night. You have to understand there was an incredible amount of turmoil, frustration, anger and self-loathing built up because they were told by society they were not equals. They could not even dance together in public without being arrested. … It's important to remember how far we've come, the fact that it's an entirely openly gay cast of actors telling the story now, which would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.
Q: You squeezed in two film roles in recent months, too?
Bomer: Vulture Club is about a woman (Susan Sarandon) whose (journalist) son is taken hostage by the Taliban. She discovers a group called the Vulture Club that is there to help her find different avenues to bring him home. I play a foreign correspondent who is close to her son and spearheads the campaign. ... Papi Chulo is about loneliness. I play a Los Angeles weatherman who has a nervous breakdown on camera and then ends up forming an unlikely friendship with a migrant worker. It's a dark comedy, moments of real pathos and moments of just comedy.
Q: Do you ever think about White Collar, your breakout starring role, in which you played a brilliant con artist who helped the feds catch criminals?
Bomer: I miss it. I'm still friends with the whole cast. Our kids go to the same school as Tim (DeKay's) kids, so we'll bump into them from time to time. I still interact with fans of the show. ... It was one of those things that came in the wake of Bernie Madoff. People wanted to see white-collar criminals get served, and (creator) Jeff Eastin was able to do it in a fun, engaging way.
Q: Would you ever do a reunion?
Bomer: We talk about it, but it's kind of tricky. We were Fox Studios for USA Network (NBCUniversal), so it's two different entities to appease. But if they ever say, 'Matt, let's do a White Collar movie,' I would do it in a heartbeat.