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Matt Bomer on Playing More Gay Roles, Fundraising for Pete Buttigieg and His New Movie ‘Papi Chulo’

Matt Bomer plays a weatherman in his new movie “Papi Chulo,” but he didn’t shadow TV meteorologists to prepare for the role.

What he was most concerned about was making sure the nervous breakdown his character has on live television was believable. To capture those emotions, he did a deep dive on the internet.

“I don’t want to say it’s there for your viewing pleasure because I’m not about laughing at the expense of others, but there are some documented breakdowns on camera that people have had,” Bomer explains. “There’s one, and he’s very open about this on so I feel okay sharing about this, [ABC News’] Dan Harris specifically had a nervous breakdown on camera. So I watched a lot of that.” (Harris chronicled the experience in his 2014 memoir “10% Happier.”)

Bomer sat down for this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast, to talk about his new movie. Bomer also explains why he’s been playing more gay roles in recent years and why he’s “thoroughly impressed” with Pete Buttigieg.

Writer-director John Butler’s “Papi Chulo” is the story of an unlikely friendship that develops between the Sean (a gay weatherman who is struggling with what appears to be a breakup with his longtime boyfriend) and his Mexican handyman Ernesto (Alejandro Patiño).

Sean first tries to cure his loneliness by hooking up through gay apps. In the original script, he was supposed to be seen using multiple apps, but “the app companies were so particular about who’s doing what and you can’t have Scruff if you have Grindr and you can’t have Grindr if you have the bear one or whatever,” Bomer said, laughing. “So it was so funny the politics of it all.”

In all seriousness, Bomer says the movie has a message, one that resonates more today than anyone would have ever expected when they first began the project.

“In a time where people are building up walls and separating off and cordoning themselves off from each other and different cultures and different ideologies, more than ever this was about a friendship that forms in the most unlikely of ways — that it’s our shared humanity that is really the only thing that can really save you from loneliness,” Bomer said.

Since publicly coming out in 2012 when he thanked his husband, Hollywood publicist Simon Halls, and their three sons while accepting an award from an AIDS organization in Palm Springs, Bomer has played a slew of gay characters. In the DC Universe series “Doom Patrol,” he stars as gay superhero Larry Trainor (a.k.a. Negative Man). There’s Emmy buzz surrounding his work as Will’s fiancé on “Will & Grace,” and he’s about to start shooting “The Boys in the Band,” the Netflix movie adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway play revival of the same name about a group of gay men in New York City in the late 1960s. Bomer will reprise the role he played in the stage production as will the rest of the cast of all openly gay actors.

“I think we’re in this great boon time now where people are actually writing gay characters with three dimensions,” Bomer said. “They’re not just the sassy stylist or the friend with a lot of attitude or the guys who’s going to help the straight guy pull it together. There’s really nothing wrong with those things but they did become tropes over the years and often times were the only dimension that the character had to bring to the table so I did always pass on those opportunities.”

Matt Bomer photographed exclusively for Variety’s “The Big Ticket” podcast.
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Growing up in Spring, Texas, Bomer had dreams of being an actor. However, dreams of having a husband and kids “was never in the realm of possibilities,” he said. “I don’t think I really even knew that having kids as a gay man was a viable option until I got to New York at 22. None of that ever seemed like a possibility to me.”

In fact, he believes if he came out in high school, “I wouldn’t be here now. My life would have taken some pretty harsh turns.”

On June 19, Bomer and Halls will co-host a fundraiser in Los Angeles for Buttigieg, a presidential hopeful for the Democratic party. While the couple isn’t making an official endorsement just yet, Bomer says, “I’m so thoroughly impressed with him on every level and he is obviously so much more than capable of the mantle of the office of President. It is kind of a getting-to-know-you and throwing in our hat to support him as best we can. I think it’s amazing that we have him as a candidate and it is legendary and historic and it’s just kind of the icing on the cake that he is also I think at this point the most qualified candidate to lead us.”

“Papi Chulo” opens in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles on June 7 and will expand nationwide on June 14.

For more Bomer, check out the full interview on this week’s “Big Ticket” below:

“The Big Ticket” can be found at iHeartRadio or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

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