The Bomer Method

5.6.2014

By Shana Naomi Krochmal

How Matt Bomer met Larry Kramer, won his dream role in The Normal Heart, and kept on living his own normal, yet charmed, life.

Sweater by Alexander McQueen. Jeans by Louis Vuitton.

That same year, he married Halls in New York. “It was very chill,” he says. “Very small — only our nearest and dearest. There’s a security, a validity of knowing that it’s legal. It’s hard to put into words. It’s just a feeling, I guess — something about saying vows in front the people around you who love and support you. I think it was good for our family.”

At a 2012 Desert AIDS Project event in Palm Springs, he thanked his “beautiful family” and then named Halls and each of their children, Kit, Walker, and Henry. A video of the speech appeared on YouTube, was posted to the gay blog Towleroad, and was quickly picked up by other media. “I frankly did not think people would be that interested,” Bomer says. “I certainly didn’t think it was going to be on the CNN ticker.”

Halls swears it didn’t occur to him that night to put on his publicist hat. “I was in the audience, and I didn’t think anything more than it was very sweet. I was proud that my husband was up there getting an award, and I was touched that he thanked us.”

Bomer says, “I’m so thankful to have been born in the times that we live in. I felt a responsibility to Simon and to our kids to be able to live with integrity and not have some strange split psychology of This is who my dad is at home, and this is who he is to the public. That trumped any type of professional repercussions that it could have had. And — not by my own volition or choice — I’ve been playing exclusively straight characters for the first 10 years of my career. Whatever happens from this point on says a lot more about the business and society than it does about me.”

That test — of what, exactly, Hollywood wants to offer a chiseled-jawed, classically trained, out gay actor — is rapidly approaching. White Collar ends this fall. “It will be a tough hat to hang up,” Bomer says, but it will also free him from a New York commute that made him feel at times “like a hamster on a wheel.” He hopes to rejoin Channing Tatum for a Magic Mike sequel, and he’s attached to play Montgomery Clift in a biopic.

But what Bomer would really love to do next is return to the stage — not in a musical, despite the Glee stint, but in an actor’s-actor kind of play. “I appreciate that medium profoundly and I have the utmost respect for it, but it’s not very shiny to me. I’d much rather do Rocket to the Moon, by Odets, or Orpheus Descending, by Williams, or something like that.” And he’d like to get back to writing a book “that’s been festering for a while.”

SLIDESHOW | Matt Bomer Sitting On the Dock of the Bay

After watching his body wither so severely on screen, it’s reassuring to see Bomer in person looking slim but healthy. “You caught me at a vulnerable moment — undercaffeinated and underslept,” he jokes as he demolishes a plate of pancakes, refueling after a week of chasing his kids around during their spring break.

Being a father, he says, “just changed everything. There’s a level of love that really dissolves a lot of egotism and self-absorption. I mean — don’t get me wrong, I have my moments. But at a certain point in my life, my whole day would have been about this interview. Now it’s a small part of a day that also includes a drop-off at school in the morning and baseball practice and a lot of other things that take precedence.”

For now, he’s focused on talking up The Normal Heart, which HBO pushed hard to make, winning Murphy away from a more traditional theatrical release with a bigger budget and a pledge to heavily market the film. “I wanted as many people as possible to see this story,” Murphy says, especially “the Glee generation” who may not ever have encountered such a blunt, beautiful depiction of the early epidemic. “I think it’s always important for people to see our history, no matter how difficult it is to watch.”

For Bomer, the opportunity to “stand on the shoulders” of Kramer and company was both a return to his more formal training and an opportunity to pay tribute to the activists who changed the world in which we live.

“Larry is somebody we wish we had as our best friend growing up — as uncomfortable as he may have made us sometimes,” Bomer says. “Activism isn’t beautiful and easy, or a bunch of people getting together and picketing; it’s a lot more complicated and difficult than that. And true love — the most unconditional love — can be experienced by anyone, regardless of their sexuality.”

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