Tim DeKay of White Collar.
How did you hear about White Collar?
I'd been under contract with HBO for five years doing different series. I was free from that and my agent told me they wanted me to do a chemistry read. They normally mean a woman when they say that, but it was with Matt Bomer, who plays my sidekick, Neal Caffrey. I thought it was just another pilot, but I read the script and thought it was fantastic. And as soon as I met Matt, I had a strong feeling the role was mine to lose.
What do you know about the background of the show and how it came together?
These things take forever. An idea somebody has from the time they have the idea to get it to script and then somebody buys the script, and there's no guarantee it gets filmed. By the time it gets to the actor, it's the last line. It goes actor and then the catering company. Wardrobe is even waiting for the actors.
The show airs on the USA network in the US (it's on Channel Ten in Australia), where it seems to sit nicely within their brand of blue-sky shows?
USA was incredibly smart in getting together and creating something in that way. If you're watching Suits or Burn Notice on USA one night and then you come back the next day and White Collar is on, you will get a certain style that is distinctive. There is always a great shot where the camera is pointing up at the actor and at the blue sky. It's not light fluff, but it is intelligent escapism.
Are the story arcs on White Collar - which focuses on exotic crimes such as art theft and forgery - entirely fictional? How much truth is in the show's storylines?
A good part of it is fiction. But we do have a man who is a retired FBI agent who works as our technical adviser. The creator and writers will sit down with him every so often over a beer and they just listen to his stories. Our writers scour the newspapers and internet for current white-collar crimes. There is something very attractive and savvy and snappy about somebody who steals a painting. So [the writers] take the theft and work backwards. Right now, though, the feedback we get is it's more fun to see how the characters on the show interact and solve the crime.
Your character, Peter, and Neal have an interesting dynamic. Are there people out there in 2012 who still operate like Neal in this world?
There are people out there. If they're really good, unfortunately, we don't know that they are out there. There are guys out there who skim along; they go from country to country. It's not dangerous to think there are people out there like that. That's one of the attractive things about these guys and that world. It's above violence. And that's why the audience accepts Peter and Neal being so close to each other. They love each other. But yet they don't trust each other in some departments. But there is no danger involved.
The show is basically a bromance.
I always liken it to a poker game between two best friends. They never show each other the hand they are holding. What adds to the stakes is Peter cares about Neal, personally and professionally. He has a vested interest in this guy personally. It would crush Peter if Neal left.
Were you pleasantly surprised that Tiffani Thiessen was cast as your wife?
I had the great fortune of being the second person cast as the show. I got to read with the women who played my wife. When Tiffany walked in, I knew she would be my pretend wife.
White Collar will return to Thursdays on Channel Ten in 2013.