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Matt Bomer on Dressing for Joy: 'Part of Me Just Hit the Fuck It Button'

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Matt Bomer Is Dressing for Joy These DaysLuca Strano

Matt Bomer says he’s not a fashion guy, but you wouldn’t know it from talking with him. It’s the day after Loewe’s fall/winter 2024 fashion show, and the L.A.-based actor is calling me from Paris, where designer Jonathan Anderson’s creations walked the runway while Bomer and a cadre of other actors—“half of the leading men in Hollywood, I felt like, were in the front row”—observed the proceedings.

“It was a perfect fusion of art and style,” Bomer says of the event. This season’s collection was heavily influenced by artist Richard Hawkins, whose large-scale work was on display during the show. “The murals came to life with the models and the music,” Bomer continues. “All of it just set such a great tone; the energy and excitement to see what Jonathan had up his sleeve was really palpable. It was like being at a Beatles concert.”

It's evening in Paris and for Bomer, the promise of a glass of wine and some indulgent French food on a rare free night—his husband and sons are in New York—isn’t far off. But before that, he takes the time to talk with me about his fashion week experience, breaking out of his comfort zone when it comes to personal style, his recent and upcoming work, and more. Read on for just a few of the highlights from our conversation.

matt bomer
Luca Strano

On designer Jonathan Anderson’s vision at Loewe

His clothes are bold and they're aspirational, but they're wearable and they're always steeped in artistic influence. The sunglasses look like there's some kind of Picasso abstract design. There's always an eye to the future while still really valuing the art of the past and our history. Even some of the patterns in the collection felt really familiar. They were almost nostalgic, like some of the plaids and the argyles, but they were put together in such an original and fresh and forward-thinking way. I think that's part of what makes him so exciting.

On his outfit at the show

I've always been more of a kid looking in through the window going, “Oh my gosh. Wow, this is incredible. Could I ever do this, wear this?” Then there was something about this collection that really hit home with me, particularly the high-waisted, almost sailor-cut jeans. When I was in high school, I used to go to the Army Navy surplus store and buy those jeans because I love them. We'd done a production of South Pacific in high school, and so I fell in love with the sailor-cut jeans and I would just wear them to school. And then I love the bomber jacket and the argyle sweater that I got to wear, the boots, all of it.

matt bomer
Luca Strano

On dressing for work versus real life

There is a massive break. I hate to say it, but so much in my personal life is just about practicality. I'm always thinking about getting our kids to school first thing in the morning. So, like so many people in L.A., I’ve fallen victim to whatever athleisure is going to be the most comfortable and getting them to school. But in the past year, really, I did look at my closet and go, “Man, you have so many great pieces. Why can't you dress up to take the kids to school?” So I've started to be a little bit dressier at times. Then obviously whenever we do something socially, I do try to step it up a little bit. I have to. We have friends who have pretty strong style games themselves, so I just have to try to keep up with those folks.

On setting an example for the next generation

I remember one of our sons just last week said to me, “Where are you going tonight? You're so dressed up,” because I had stayed dressed up for dinner. I was mortified. I was like, “Oh gosh, this poor guy. I've lowered his expectations as to how I can dress around the home at night.”

matt bomer getting his hair dried
Luca Strano

On dressing for joy

There was a long time when I thought, “I want to be dressed like Paul Newman and only wear preppy, modern classics that 20 years from now will still look classic.” And then after the pandemic, part of me just hit the fuck it button and was like, “You know what, I want to wear color. I want to cut through the black. I want to take risks. I want this. It's okay if this was ‘so 2024.’ I want to live for whatever this moment is because God knows how long we're going to be here.” My stylist, Warren Alfie Baker, who's phenomenal, has really helped me to push myself outside of my typical comfort zone. I just want to follow whatever gives me joy, because [industry events], while they're wonderful and it's great to celebrate our peers and be there for each other and to see everybody again and to have that kind of recognition, sometimes they can become a little self-serious and somber, and I just think, “Why not just bring some joy onto the carpet, follow your own joy, your own bliss, and then bring that into the room with you?”

On the concept of the "leading man"

I don't even know what that is anymore, to be honest with you. I think there was a time in Hollywood when that was very clear-cut. It was so interesting because I think a lot of this collection was questioning, “What is modern masculinity?” We're completely reconstructing what that concept is, period. So the idea of a leading man, I mean, maybe there are folks who want to do a specific type of genre and just do that, have that kind of cult of personality where every role has a version of that personality and has the same arc of the character and trajectory of the character. That, for me, as an artist, isn't really interesting at all.

There are always times when, as an actor, you have to do a job to do a job. But if you have the luxury of choice, I'm always thinking about, “Okay. What scares me? What's something I haven't done? What's something I'm not sure if I can do?” Typically, if a role has that element in it, the bigger that element is, the more challenging it's going to be, and oftentimes the more rewarding the experience is going to be, even though I know it's going to be a trial by fire at points.

matt bomer
Luca Strano

On staying young

I was a kid who grew up in Texas and I did not wear sunscreen—or not nearly as much as I should have. So, I'm just so grateful that at some point in my early 20s, I had hair and makeup artists who said, “Wear sunscreen every day,” and that's something I really took to heart. And, for better or worse, I'm one of those people who if I eat the wrong thing or if I drink the wrong thing the night before I'm on camera, you will see it on my face. It will show up. I'll swell. I'll break out. So I've really had to watch what I eat as well, particularly when I'm filming or doing a press tour or something like that. I do eat plenty of food, but I just have to be careful with what that is. I think keeping healthy diet has been probably 80 percent of anything that's gone okay for me. And sunscreen.

On playing David Oppenheim in Maestro

I think Bradley [Cooper] is a brilliant creative artist. I was really impressed with his work as a director in A Star Is Born. I always had a peripheral fascination with Leonard Bernstein, both with his music and who he was as a man. So to be a part of that story was really intriguing to me, and I thought that the creative team involved was too good to be true. When Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese are executive producers on the film, you want to be in that movie. I knew I was in great hands with Bradley, and we had a great discussion. Once I knew who my man was, then I did a little bit of research—a lot of the letters that they had written to each other, actually a lifetime's worth of letters that they'd written to each other on the Library of Congress website. Once I knew I had something to ground the work in, it just really excited me.

matt bomer in a car
Luca Strano

On playing Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller in Fellow Travelers

That was a book that was brought to me during the pandemic by Robbie Rogers and Ron Nyswaner. I read the book and was immediately fascinated with the world. It was an aspect of my culture's history that I knew nothing about. I had heard about it a little bit here and there, and I had a tangential layman's understanding of what it was, but I had no idea what the day-to-day experience was and how much of a witch hunt it really became for folks in D.C. in the '50s, and that echoed through some of the political aspects that were happening in the story in the '60s as well. So it was a chance for me to not only dive deep into a really multi-dimensional character, someone who had as much shadow as he had light—oftentimes more shadow than light—but who also was living through these parts of our history that I didn't have a really deep understanding of.

Also, I mean, just the opportunity to tell a multi-decade gay love story, it was unheard of. I've been doing this almost 30 years—longer if you count being a background artist in a Chuck Norris movie when I was 12—and the idea that a project like that would be green lit and made and given the kind of budget and creative team needed to do it in the way we wanted to do it, it was unthinkable to me. I'm just so grateful that we were able to get it made.

On what’s next, work-wise

I have a lot of things in development and some things I'm really excited about, but in the meantime, I'm just sorting through it. I feel like our industry is still just getting back on the horse from the strike. So I'm just waiting for something that feels right, and I'll know it when I read it or meet with someone. But in the meantime, I'm developing some other things and there's a potential White Collar reboot on the horizon that could be a lot of fun as well.

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