'White Collar' connects with Carnegie Mellon grad

Matt Bomer, the co-star of USA Network’s new drama “White Collar” (Oct. 23), remembers facing his football-loving father, saying he was quitting the team so he could be in a play at Houston’s Alley Theater.

Quite a statement considering dad had been drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and Bomer lived in Texas, where football is more religion than sport.

“I had to weigh my options, which were limited if I continued playing football. Honestly, I wasn’t that good,” Bomer recalls. “I was always that fringe guy anyway, the guy who played football and then did the musicals.”

While Bomer says he didn’t have any connections to get into the business initially, his small-town high school is a sweet spot for actors and high achievers. In addition to Olympic gold medalists and professional athletes, performers Lyle Lovett, Sherry Stringfield and his pals Lee Pace (“Pushing Daisies”) and Lynn Collins all graduated from Springs Klein High School.

“We grew up together and supported each other through the years,” Bomer says of Pace and Collins. “Our high school offered a comprehensive drama department where I was doing ‘Angels in America’ at 14.”

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 2001, Bomer worked on the venerable soap “Guiding Light” before moving to Los Angeles and snagging parts in series from “Tru Calling” to “Chuck.” He credits casting director Meg Simon with helping him get his professional start.

In “White Collar,” Bomer stars with Tim DeKay (“Tell Me You Love Me”) as a con man who teams up with a workaholic G-man in trying to catch bad guys.

“He’s so mercurial, it gives you a lot of permission as an actor to go places you might not normally go,” Bomer says. “Once he gets into the FBI, he has a lot of fun, plus he’s charming and really a romantic. I can relate to that.”

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