Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Andrew Rannells Interviews Matt Bomer

Andrew Rannells recently interviewed Matt Bomer for Out Magazine. Here are some highlights from their conversation:

Andrew Rannells: How long did White Collar [Bomer’s USA series] run?

Matt Bomer: Six years.

AR: So that’s the same as Girls. It feels a little anticlimactic because I imagine your schedule was similar to ours — we wrapped, then months went by, and then it aired, and you’re like, I already grieved this, but now I’m going through it again.

MB: The whole experience of film or television — time feels very fast, and very slow, and you’re revisiting things. I still find live theater the most energizing. Every performance is unique, every audience is different, and there’s an immediacy that’s addictive, especially when you’re in a great play like Book of Mormon or Falsettos. 

AR: We performed Falsettos last fall a day after the election. It was rough to get through — to show up on a Wednesday to do, like, three shows after that night. 

MB: How was the audience?

AR: Angry. There were certain things that just landed in different ways. And that is the reason why it’s so fun to do it, because it’s a living thing — it changes every time you step on stage. It’s crazy. 

...AR: So let's talk about your new Amazon series, The Last Tycoon. Were you interested in Hollywood history before taking this on?

MB: Yeah. I had just reacquainted myself with The Day of the Locust, which is a great Nathanael West book and film. And I was just thinking about the scrappiness of that period and the people who came to this town to make something of themselves and to dream big. And then a couple weeks later [director] Billy Ray called and said, “Hey, I’m doing The Last Tycoon,” and it was so serendipitous — it felt like a dream, that it was all happening that easily. The next thing I knew, I was in a double-breasted suit on a set, speaking period dialogue. 

AR: We sort of take that history for granted, but those people were creating a form, so there were no rules yet. It literally was the Wild West of show business. 

MB: And what's interesting to me is how much has changed and how much really hasn’t, particularly in Los Angeles. We’ve all been frustrated by this system, and the business aspect of things, but it is a necessary evil. At its best, it’s friends making a business-savvy project, or putting a piece of art together. 

AR: I assume you get this a lot as well, but recently I have only been playing gay characters, and I get a lot of people asking, “Isn’t that limiting?” Which I find to be the most condescending question, because it’s a facet of your personality, of your humanity, but it doesn’t mean that you automatically have to act one way. I think anybody who asks that question is really showing they have such a limited scope of who people are. The only time it’s limiting is when the writing is bad. And there’s a lot of bad writing out there. 

MB: And they write it in a limiting fashion, so you can’t break out of it. 

AR: And I know you get this a lot: “Oh, I didn’t know you were gay.”  

MB: One of the ways I learned how to act, really, is by having secrets, and having to function as a kid in a public school in suburban Bible Belt Texas. Subsequently I worked on a gas pipeline with my brother for a while — there were ex-cons with us. It was not an environment where it was safe to be gay.

AR: With that face, you worked on a pipeline? Did you put on an eyepatch or something? A goatee?

MB: No, but I did learn how to protect myself — it was literally acting of the highest stakes. I had my brother to protect me, but as terrible as it may sound, it was a way I learned to select behavior and make choices, even if it was a ruse just to survive, you know?

...MB: I was raised in a conservative Christian household. We weren’t even allowed to watch “secular” television, anything that was deemed not proper for Christians. 

AR: Full House? Did you watch that? 

MB: I remember watching reruns of the short-lived Nell Carter sitcom Gimme a Break!

AR: First of all, that was not short-lived. 

MB: It was not? 

AR: Matt Bomer, that was a fucking hit show! 

...AR: When did you come out to yourself versus when you came out to them?

MB: I was at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and I was doing Romeo and Juliet and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in rep, and I remember someone there who was a hair and makeup artist who I found really inspiring. I thought, If this person can live their truth, what am I doing? I was actually in the middle of doing sit-ups, because I needed some kind of physical release. And I was dating a girl in the company at the time. 

...MB: I wrote a letter to my parents. I would have lost my sense of direction if I tried to do it in person. 

AR: How did they respond? 

MB: There was radio silence for a long, long time, at least six months.

AR: Oh, Jesus. That is a long time. 

MB: And then I came home and we had the blowup that I’d always feared. But we got that out of the way, and we got down to the business of figuring out how to love each other. I would say within a matter of years we started to figure it out. It was a struggle. It’s a struggle for anybody to take their paradigms and set of beliefs and understandings and completely flip the script. So I’m empathetic toward everyone. And my family is so loving. My mom just asked me, [my husband] Simon, and the boys to go down and speak to her women’s group in Houston so, you know, I’m here to tell people it can get better. Because I had so many people in my life saying, “You need to get rid of all expectations — you need to cut them out.” But I was like, “They’re my family.” 

Read the full interview at Out Magazine.

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