Photography by Kai Z Feng
As Matt Bomer makes the talk-show rounds to promote The Normal Heart, the drastic weight loss—between 35 and 40 pounds—that he underwent during production has quickly become one of the most frequently asked questions.
In Out's June/July cover story, "The Bomer Method," director Ryan Murphy told us that when Bomer was campaigning to be cast, he presented Murphy with extensive and very specific research he had done about how a man with AIDS in 1983 would see his body changed by the disease. And Bomer’s husband, Simon Halls, described for us the challenge of maintaining a severely limited diet with three young kids constantly eating in the house. “We gave him the space he needed to get into that mindset,” Halls says.
Bomer, however, has often seemed reluctant to dwell on the physical changes required for the part. In these outtakes from our cover story with the actor, he talks more about making The Normal Heart, the possibility of playing Montgomery Clift and keeping his family’s life out of the media.
ON MEDIA FOCUSING ON HIS WEIGHT LOSS:
Just because I was thinner and weaker during certain scenes didn’t make that any less challenging than the scene where Ned and Felix first meet. It’s great writing, and great writing is going to give you incredible tools in a scene and also provide you with some pretty specific challenges. Having said that, though, I’ve never looked forward to going to work so much in my life. Every day on set, regardless of the difficulty of the emotional needs of any particular scene, it was always something I was really looking forward to getting to do.
ON QUIZZING LARRY KRAMER ABOUT THE NORMAL HEART:
I went to his apartment in New York. I brought him cupcakes and we talked for a really long time. I was asking a lot of questions that revolved around people, around certain characters and who they may have been based on. And he said, “It’s all in the text. You don’t have to go digging up old stories and old ghosts. Everything you need is in the text.” That’s what stuck with me. It helped me so much because it helped me allocate my resources and centralize my focus. Obviously as an actor part of that is understanding the times you’re portraying, but I didn’t have to study any one particular person.
ON MAKING MAGIC MIKE:
It reminded me of playing football and being in the locker room—we were all on the same team, all facing some pretty nerve-wracking circumstances: strutting our stuff in front of a room of strangers.
ON MONTGOMERY CLIFT:
To see the kind of intense vulnerability and realism that he brought to his work at a time when that was not the style—it’s profound. He knew everything he was feeling inside—or if he didn’t, you wondered, why was he feeling that when the scene was this? To get to portray someone who was so formative to me as an artist would be terrifying and daunting and thrilling.
ON ACTORS WHO HAVE INSPIRED HIM:
I love Alain Delon a lot. I think he was an incredible leading man. I think we have this bevy of really great leading men now too who take on these character roles too. Seeing Brad Pitt’s work over the years—he’s made some really bold and brave choices. And Joaquin Phoenix. And Mark [Ruffalo]. He’s an American treasure. He really is. Acting with him is so fun and free and he makes everyone around him better. I just hope that at the end of the day I’m able to have a body of work that shows all the different kind of things I can do as an actor.
ON HIS USA NETWORK SERIES WHITE COLLAR ENDING THIS YEAR:
I will definitely be a hot mess on that day. I love everyone in that cast. It will be a tough hat to hang up, but this is what happens. How lucky were we? If you were ever to tell me that I would have a TV series that would last five seasons I would have laughed in your face, so the fact that came true—that’s like a needle in a haystack. It so rarely happens. We just had this magic bubble of an experience that I think I’ll take with me wherever I go.
ON HOW HE BECAME A FATHER TO THREE YOUNG SONS:
It’s not really my story. It’s theirs to hawk. If they want to write a tell-all when they’re 25, that’s fine.
HIS HUSBAND SIMON HALLS, ON WATCHING BOMER’S PERFORMANCE IN THE NORMAL HEART:
I went through that period, and I knew all these people who lost the fight. I think that he gave the character real dignity and honor and truth, and it gave a face to something that a lot of people, especially the younger generation, never had to experience or see. But—imagine seeing your spouse dying. It is all acting, but when you see your partner go through terrible physical pain and ultimately passing away—for me, it was almost too much to take. It was tough.
Read more about this story at ShanaNaomi.com.