By Jamie Ruby
Tonight White Collar
returns to USA Network with all new episodes. The fourth season picks up where the last left off with Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) on the run after Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), who had been working hard to get Neal off his ankle monitor, gave him the signal to leave before he ended up in jail again.
Tonight Peter and friends will race to find Neal themselves before another agent (Mehki Phifer) finds him, and he has no qualms about whether he brings him back dead or alive.
As always Neal is accompanied by his best friend and fellow thief Mozzie, played by Willie Garson, as they chill out on their island paradise, thinking they are safe.
Yesterday Garson talked to the media about the upcoming season of White Collar
You can catch White Collar
tonight at 9/8c on USA Network.
USA Conference CallWhite Collar
July 9, 2012
3:15 pm CTSCIFI VISION:
Can you talk about some of the guest stars we're going to get to see this season?WILLIE GARSON:
Do they really matter besides me? No, I'm kidding. You know, we have - well right out of the gate we have Mekhi Phifer who's really amazing. And who we're working with right now is Treat Williams which is very exciting.
I'm trying to think who's in this episode, Titus Welliver is in the episode we're shooting right now. We always have such an embarrassment of riches on this show with our guest stars. Certainly the people we've had in the past too like, you know, Beau Bridges and Griffin Dunne, Aidan Quinn.
I mean Andrew McCarthy, I mean it goes on and on. We just - we get really good people want to do the show and that's a real compliment to us.
Certainly not so much to the show but certainly to the actors because that's - I know myself, when I'm asked to guest on a show it's always about well what are the actors on the show that I want to work with. So it's really - it's quite a compliment when they come and play with us.SCIFI VISION:
Is there something specific this season that you're looking forward to fans seeing that you can talk about without spoiling it too much?WILLIE GARSON:
Well, you know, to be honest we don't watch any of the episodes until they air.
So I can tell you that starting tomorrow I personally am wildly excited to see the first two episodes that are shot outside of New York because the show is going to look really different and weird and be a part of this whole new world which will be really fascinating.
There's also the emotional stuff that's coming on later in the season with Neal finding out about his past and his family has been really fun to shoot and really interesting. And I think the fans and we're fans of the show too, are going to freak out watching on screen.QUESTION:
have you discovered about Mozzie now that you really didn't know about him in season one?WILLIE GARSON:
Do you like him?WILLIE GARSON:
I think I discovered more about the character in terms of how important his connection to people would become. Mozzie seems like someone who didn't need anyone around or to need to be with people. And Neal has really brought him out of his shell in New York.
And now Mozzie actually has relationships that are actually important to him. And that's something that I certainly didn't see on the page when I started the show so that's been really interesting.
And even more so this year, how much when we're out of the country and then what brings us back to New York, how important things, you know, human relationships are to Mozzie. So that's going to be interesting to watch.QUESTION:
Is Mozzie ever going to get a love interest this season, maybe a new or an old flame returning?WILLIE GARSON:
You know, I have no idea. I wish. I've had two so far on the show and I've liked both of them. So and I thought they were really fun episodes and I think Mozzie in a relationship is a lovely thing. I haven't see any scripts yet that has Mozzie, you know, getting any action.QUESTION:
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday on Watch What Happens Live
. Have you settled on a drink yet?WILLIE GARSON:
I have. Funny you should ask. I changed it a couple of times but I have settled on a Sidecar which is a really good old fashioned brandy based drink with a sugared rim on the glass. And I'm looking forward to enjoying a number of them.QUESTION:
Since Neal and Mozzie are in hiding does Mozzie see it as a good ending point for Neal or a new beginning?WILLIE GARSON:
Interesting. I think Mozzie sees it as the life that he's always dreamed to have. So I guess an ending but a very comfortable ending. So we're going to find out - it's almost that old saying, you know, be careful what you wish for.
That maybe being more involved in life is a better choice than dropping out of life.QUESTION:
Is the pressure harder on Neal to be on the run or on Mozzie to keep him there?WILLIE GARSON:
I never feel like there's any real pressure on Mozzie. I feel like the pressure is really on Neal to decide what to do. I think Mozzie can find a way to make wherever he is totally doable.
And so I think that's what we find is that what is the - Mozzie's pressure more comes about how to stay with Neal rather than any pressure of, you know, making him stay there. It's just where are we going to be?QUESTION:
How hard was it to stay in character in such a beautiful location?WILLIE GARSON:
Well this is not the hardest character I have to say, for me to play mainly because he's the closest to myself with my, you know, my same kind of wit and feelings about a lot of things but also because the writing is so perfectly geared to our characters.
So there's not a lot of heavy lifting once we actually get there saying it. It was actually just really fun.
You know, this show - the characters are structured so well that on this show we found in the first season, I think it was about episode five where we all called each other up after it aired and we were like you know what?
These characters are so well drawn and so perfectly complementary to each other, we could be solving the case of the missing Scotch tape on the North Pole and we'd be fine. And that's really - that really came through when we, you know, left the mainland to go shoot this.
It's like we could shoot anywhere. It doesn't matter. As long as we are in character talking to each other it's like it all seems perfectly natural because the characters are so well drawn.QUESTION:
You mentioned a little bit about how Neal's drawn Mozzie out and has more human relationships. Can you talk a little bit about Mozzie's relationship with Peter or "The Suit" as he likes to call him?
And is his connection with him just Neal or has there become a grudging admiration and he kind of actually likes the guy?WILLIE GARSON:
Well I think grudging admiration is a great phrase because it's almost like they actually need to hate each other. And in that hatred of each other they actually love each other a lot.
It gives Peter a sense of action and danger and it gives Mozzie a sense of safety that this actual government agent who he totally mistrusts everything about, is actually watching over him and that he's really not going to be in that much trouble.
I guarantee you that if we had a scene of Mozzie sitting alone at a bar drunk he'd be bragging to his friends that he is very good friends with an FBI - a high ranking FBI official. So, you know, I think it's almost at the point where they kind of need each other.
They need this tension between them and I think they both enjoy it.QUESTION:
Hopefully it'll be seasons away, but when the end comes how would you like Neal and Mozzie to wind up?WILLIE GARSON:
Well I'd like it - I would like it to be seasons in. I'd like Mozzie to end up very, very wealthy. Oh no, that's the actor.
Okay, what I would, you know, I'd like Mozzie to end up happy, you know, whatever that means we have to figure out and I think we will in the coming seasons figure out what actually Mozzie wants.
We're actually joking a lot this episode about Mozzie's fake baby that he has that maybe Mozzie wants to have a baby and maybe Mozzie wants to fall in love or, you know, I mean you never know what's going to happen. But I leave that kind of - those kinds of things always to really talented writers.
And I believe when shows end well they should end with characters getting whatever they need to get and that's really a writer's decision.QUESTION:
The relationship between Neal and Mozzie has obviously been very stressed lately. Do you think there's a breaking point or do you think that the relationship can pretty much withstand anything?WILLIE GARSON:
Well I do believe that - I do believe that the relationship can withstand anything even though, you know, because it is a TV show we have to tease every once in a while that, you know, this is it, I'm never talking to you again.
But I think we've established now after three seasons that there's going to be a way for these two guys to always keep an eye on each other and take care of each other.
It comes up again right at the start of Season 4 which you'll see tomorrow that it's like well what's going to happen? I mean are they really this is it? This is it? They're really going to walk away from each other again? But I think the audience is going to start figuring out that they probably aren't at least for a while. At least for three or four more seasons.QUESTION:
Right. Ten years from now maybe.WILLIE GARSON:
Now that you've all worked together so long what's the...atmosphere on the set? What's it like to work with all of these great actors?WILLIE GARSON:
Oh, okay. I mean, you know, I mean every show says this but I've been on shows where this is not true and I've said it. But on this show it is true. It's, you know, it's really fun.
We work, you know, when people work on television shows you're spending more time with these people than you're spending with your family. And if it's not fun or not satisfying to be with them then it really can be quite a miserable job.
So we try and - we all are very good friends and we try and keep each other entertained and plugged in and help each other out in the scenes. We really do all have each other's backs. And that's, you know, me and Matt and Tim and Sharif and Marsha and Tiffani and Diahann and Hilarie.
You know, we all are very close and you can throw any of us into a scene together and we have our own personal jokes with each other, our own personal songs that we sing to each other and on and on. You know, it's not - it's such a cliché for actors to say but it becomes a family.
And this is mine now, in this case because we have been through a lot and we're getting this glory of a long run. We've been through so much together, you know, deaths and births and marriages and, you know, it becomes the fabric of your life.QUESTION:
I have a question about Mozzie and Elizabeth. I really enjoy those sort of friendships - those sort of unlikely friendships between those two characters.
And I was wondering if we could look forward to any scenes with you and Tiffani coming up soon and sort of your thoughts on that, on those characters as friends.WILLIE GARSON:
You know, it's interesting because you're not the first person to ask about that. And I guess those scenes are very popular. We do have a - we do - we did shoot a number of scenes already this season that are just me and Tiffani which is great fun.
You know, it's great. It's like this is someone who not - I mean both of them are someone who the other one would never be friends with other than because of this situation. And they actually have a mutual like of each other. I think Elizabeth feels kind of protective towards Mozzie.
And Mozzie while finding The Suit, you know, Agent Burke to be kind of boorish he finds "Mrs. Suit" to be a little elegant and knows about fine wine and art and literature. And so he I think really appreciates her. So I think it's a great relationship.
And we do explore it more and I hope we get to continue to.QUESTION:
When he's not hatching schemes with Neal or drinking Neal's wine, what do you think Mozzie does with all his time?WILLIE GARSON:
I think he probably hustles old ladies at chess games like in Washington Square Park. I think he explores a lot of art and I think just because we never see him getting all the information that he has my guess is that Mozzie spends a lot of time in the New York Public Library in the reading room.
So he - I mean he has an awful lot of information and he has to get it from somewhere.QUESTION:
If you could write a detail in for Mozzie's character or an event in for Season 4 what would you want Mozzie to do or what would you want to have happen to him in Season 4?WILLIE GARSON:
You know, because we spend so much of Season 3 with Mozzie like kind of unhappy and dying to get out of here I think I'd like to see Season 4, I'd like to see Mozzie happy with his circumstances and where he is.
I don't know if that's going to happen by the end of Season 4 but that's what I would like to happen for him.QUESTION:
Do you like the twists that his character has taken? He's been shot, he took out a contract on a guy, he gave his best friend an ultimatum last season. Do you like the twists he's taken or...WILLIE GARSON:
Well I always like it when it's interesting. You know? I never can guess what's going to happen. And we don't get our scripts until like, you know, two days before we start shooting each episode so we never know. And that's what I like. I like that I don't know.
A lot of actors like to know so far in advance but, you know, I'm - maybe I'm not that good of an actor or it's just my style of acting. In life we don't know what's coming so I'd like to not know what's coming. It keeps it interesting for me.QUESTION:
It's election time in the US...and I know Mozzie is very anti-establishment and anti-government. But he votes.
So if Mozzie wanted to run for president what would his election platform be and would Neal be his campaign manager?WILLIE GARSON:
I don't know if Neal would be his campaign manager because Mozzie's platform would be to dismantle the entire government. That would be Mozzie's platform and that would be chaos. And so I don't know if - I don't know if Neal would really get behind that.
But he'd be - he would be a friendly voice to Mozzie but I don't know if he would be a full supporter.QUESTION:
We know you're good friends with Elvis Costello. Any chance you can convince him to guest star on White Collar
or even Whole Day Down
...your Web series.WILLIE GARSON:
How do I answer this?QUESTION:
Does he want to?WILLIE GARSON:
I'm not allowed - I'm not allowed to answer that. That's all I can say.
So take whatever meaning I'm hinting at as you wish. But I am not allowed to answer that specific question about that specific person.QUESTION:
A couple of weeks ago Jeff tweeted a heavily redacted photo of you pranking Matt on set [about] Magic Mike
, the day it came out. And he said he's got a video clip of it but he wasn't going to publish it until he's got permission from you. So can you please give permission to Jeff now and so we can all watch it?WILLIE GARSON:
I will not. But yeah, I will think about it. There's a little too much of me in that clip, certain areas of me that do not need to be on the internet.QUESTION:
Well I'm sure the editing department would be very good at blurring out if it's unsuitable for children perhaps.WILLIE GARSON:
...Believe me, it's not suitable for adults either.QUESTION:
Willie, you've now played two fan favorite characters on two different shows - Mozzie on White Collar
and Stanford Blatch on Sex and the City
. Are there any traits of Stanford that you wish Mozzie had?WILLIE GARSON:
And what, Henry on NYPD Blue
was chopped liver? No. I would say I wish, you know, I became such a stylish person playing Stanford. I wish Mozzie had a little more style. Even though I like Mozzie's style there are sometimes I wish he was dressed a little better.
But that's about it. I mean Mozzie's drinking - he's drinking as much as Stanford and he gets to go to fancy things like Stanford. I just wish he, you know, wore sometimes a little more expensive clothing.QUESTION:
How do you think Mozzie compares to you personally?WILLIE GARSON:
Mozzie has a lot of my sense of humor, some of my world views, any - he basically talks a lot in my speech patterns.
I would say out of all of the characters I've played over the past, you know, whatever, 25 years I would say that Mozzie is the closest to myself other than the international conman part although that might be a con in and of itself, me saying that.
But, you know, I guess Mozzie is very close to me in a lot of ways so it's a real joy to play him.QUESTION:
What does your son think of the show?WILLIE GARSON:
Oh my God. He loves it. You know, we have a huge audience of kids, you know, like ten to 20 year olds who love the show which is really satisfying. It's great because the stories are compelling and they want - it's interesting how a lot of TV has forgotten that people want compelling stories.
And kids, especially a lot of stuff they watch ends up being just so mind numbingly stupid and kids are not stupid and they want a story and they want to feel smart that they figured that that happened and that happened. So he and all of his friends watch it.
And that's been really satisfying for the show because parents can watch it with their kids and not feel like they're watching something mind numbing. And kids can watch it with their parents and feel like they're watching something intelligent and grown up.
And, you know, because we don't have a ton of nudity, we don't have a lot of blood flying all over the place. And so my kid feels really smart watching it and he often has to explain some of the plot twists to me. So it's a great thing.QUESTION:
If you had a crossover with any TV show on air or off air now which one would you like to see White Collar
crossover with?WILLIE GARSON:
Oh man. I mean personally I would like it to be Friday Night Lights
but I can't imagine that episode. But right now for me it would be Sons of Anarchy
which I guess we could find a way to work some kind of caper with that - with them in mind. So those would be my two favorites right now.QUESTION:
If you had to bring back any of the people that you've worked with in the past from any other show who would you want to bring back and why, character wise?WILLIE GARSON:
Jimmy Smits - favorite actor, favorite guy. Him and Sarah Jessica are the two people who taught me how to act on camera. And I think he'd be great on our show. I would love to have Jimmy Smits. That's my choice.QUESTION:
What do you think is the most intriguing bromance on the show?WILLIE GARSON:
I would say the most intriguing bromance is probably Mozzie and Peter because it's the most unexpected.
You know, I mean Mozzie and Neal is kind of expected, Neal and Peter is kind of expected. So I think Mozzie and Peter - although in the episode we're shooting right now we have a very funny situation going on with Mozzie and Jones played by Sharif Atkins and that's really fun too.
So I think it's a constant - I think it's the writers' room constantly trying to play with different combinations to see what can happen.SCIFI VISION:
You mentioned how you're filming outside of New York. Can you talk about filming in Puerto Rico - just kind of about the experience?WILLIE GARSON:
Yeah. I mean it was really hard. I'll tell you the hardest thing about it was that Puerto Rico is a nighttime culture. And the reason we were shooting there is to get as much sunlight and daylight as possible. So we were working, you know, like 6:00 am every day to get the sunlight.
And then they don't eat dinner and stuff until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. So that was really hard. So we were basically in a coma the whole time of tiredness. But, you know, it was fantastic. The local crew was amazing that came and that worked with our crew.
And all the people were - that we came across were great and very accommodating and, you know, it's amazing that every time I'm in Puerto Rico I'm amazed that it's part of the US. It's so amazing and, you know, it's a beautiful Caribbean destination.SCIFI VISION:
Definitely. So you guys obviously have a lot of fun on the set. Is there anything specific you can think of where maybe you guys couldn't quit laughing when you were filming something?WILLIE GARSON:
Oh my god. I mean it happens all the time. There can be some ridiculous line. There's something in science called a sympathetic stain and literally Matt and I had a scene and - where we say sympathetic stain.
It must have taken us two hours to film the scene because either one or both of us could never stop laughing every time it came time to say sympathetic stain. So I mean it happens all the time but that's - I have to say that's something that's probably true on pretty much any set.
But yeah, we laugh a lot on our show.QUESTION:
I was wondering what you think it is about White Collar
that really makes it such a fan favorite show.WILLIE GARSON:
Well I think it all comes from Jeff Eastin. There's a kind of believable vulnerability about the characters. These characters are not perfect. They're not superhuman. You know, Peter Burke isn't the - he isn't the most heroic FBI agent.
Matt is charming and handsome but has a lot of vulnerability too because of his past and his family. I think these things are very relatable to people rather than like, you know, on a lot of shows like this is the best cop that's ever existed or, you know, this is the baddest criminal on the planet, you know.
I just think that people can relate to vulnerability and all of these characters have it on some level.QUESTION:
What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and the show?WILLIE GARSON:
You know, all we can do is thank them and keep thanking them. I mean this show is driven so much by the people watching it. And to be honest, without sounding like a kiss ass, by the people such as all of the bloggers who write about it.
People have embraced this show and spread the word and all we can say is thank you because you're basically all of who we make it for. We don't make it - entertainment is a two-way street. And any actor or writer or producer who tells you differently is completely lying.
So we're there - we are there to enjoy doing our job and make money and this is what we do for a profession and we love doing it. But the other half of that equation is that we should be - people should be enjoying it and watching it. And we respond as much to you as you guys do to us.
So all we can say is thank you.SCIFI VISION:
Which part do you prefer more, the dramatic scenes or the comedic scenes from an acting standpoint?WILLIE GARSON:
They both have their benefits I'd have to say. You know, if you're known as that - as a comic actor where comedy comes easy every comic actor will say well I love doing a dramatic scene because I finally feel like I'm acting.
Major dramatic actors will always say oh I love doing a comedic scene because I really feel like I'm acting. So I like them both I have to say because I'm known kind of for being funny. I love when I get to do something dramatic.
I do a scene in this season that's probably the most dramatic scene I've done on this series. And it just felt great. I loved doing it. And on this show I actually wish I had a little bit more of the drama to do and that I'm not always the go to guy for a laugh.
So it was very satisfying. That'll be coming up in one of the first few episodes.SCIFI VISION:
Would you ever be interested in working behind the scenes on the show like writing or directing or something?WILLIE GARSON:
I would. And I will be directing if we get to go on next season. I - if we're fortunate enough to get picked up I will be directing next year. So that's something we've been talking about for a long time. And I've been preparing so I think I'm ready after - after almost 30 years I think I'm ready to give it a shot.QUESTION:
How you think the new media has played into the success of White Collar
. As you said, there are so many of us blogging, tweeting, podcasting.WILLIE GARSON:
Well I mean it's, you know, it's complete. Without any of it - with this number of stations and this number of outlets clamoring for people's attention, without the new media nothing would have a chance.
And then, you know, if you have the glory and the benefit of being a favorite of the new media like our show has become, it's just - it's literally the gravy boat on top of all of it because it's not just like people are mentioning it because they have to mention what's on TV.
They're writing tons and tons about it and really keeping up with our every move. And it's really - it makes this huge audience, this huge new media audience out there sit up and take notice.
So if I'm reading five blogs and four of them are screaming at me about how wonderful White Collar is I'm going to tune in. And that - without that shows don't have a chance. And so we benefit from it more than most I think.QUESTION:
Do you guys ever end up chatting about what you saw on Twitter the night before, just out of curiosity?WILLIE GARSON:
All the time. All the time. I mean it's one of the reasons that Matt is not on Twitter, because he thinks it's the beginning of hell in a handbasket. That everything about everything is on people's Twitters because Matt's very conservative and private.
And so, you know, I'll tell him some of the things I see on Twitter just to annoy him.QUESTION:
If you only knew all of our Twitter handles.WILLIE GARSON:
Oh, I can only imagine. I'm new to Twitter as you know, but I'm rapidly getting better at it and I'm getting a number of people which is cool.QUESTION:
Since we all know you're going to be directing next season because there will be a number 5, what do you bring to the director's table as an actor?WILLIE GARSON:
Liquor. No, what do I bring? You know, I bring 25 years of standing on sets and story and acting stuff. Our crew is so advanced that the camera stuff, I'm not going to - I'm certainly not going to change the wheel.
But I am going to bring a lot of humanity into the scenes which is something that I know how to do like no problem. So that's my angle is what I'm going to bring in, performances and humanity.QUESTION:
Is there anything that you feel might challenge you or bring a little bit of trepidation to taking on the reins of directing White Collar
or do you think that no, you've got this, you can handle it?WILLIE GARSON:
You know, camera and angles and time. You know, we shoot a full episode in seven days and that's - that can be very quick. Some of our scripts are close to 80 pages long. So we're talking about 11 pages a day so the time is the only thing I'm afraid of because I don't know much about technical stuff.
But I'm learning it rapidly about camera. It's just in terms of can I get everything I need to get in the amount of time I have?QUESTION:
You mentioned Jimmy Smits and you mentioned Sons of Anarchy
. What an amazing thing would be if you were to bring your directorial challenges over to the cast, direct Jimmy and Sons of Anarchy
and beyond there.
Have you thought about giving that a shot?WILLIE GARSON:
If you can make that happen I will happily give it a shot.QUESTION:
I think with the social media this might (happen).WILLIE GARSON:
All right. Well you get a hold of (Kurt Shutter) and you get on that right away.QUESTION:
If you to write your own go undercover story for you and Neal, where would you go? What would be your aliases and why?WILLIE GARSON:
Really? Well I, you know, I'd be mistaken if I said we wouldn't go undercover at a male strip club and Matt would be Hot Cider and I would be Dry Aged Beef. No. I don't know where we'd go. I mean we'd go, you know, we could go anywhere.
So we choose to go to New York and our aliases, you know, I always like to play that game of like what would be your porno name and it's your first pet and the street you grew up on. So I would go with (Heidi Harrison) and I don't know what Matt's - I t?hink the funnier the alias the better.QUESTION:
If the entire White Collar
cast - the characters - would go on a show like Survivor
, who would win and why?WILLIE GARSON:
Oh Mozzie absolutely because - and you would never see him doing anything either. He would have it all wired. Everything would be under the radar. You wouldn't know he was taking care of business. And they would fall one by one and then Mozzie would be the last one standing but no problem.
I think shockingly, Peter Burke would be the first one out.