Willie Garson: ‘White Collar’ Returns with Trouble in Paradise

by | July 10, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Interviews, White Collar

Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey and Willie Garson as Mozzie in White Collar (Photo by: Javier Pesquera/USA Network)

White Collar” returns for a fourth season Tuesday night (9/8c on USA Network) with Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) and Mozzie (Wille Garson) on the run — but living the high life on a small island without an extradition treaty with the U.S.

“I think Mozzie sees it as the life he always dreamed to have, so he sees it as an ending, but a very comfortable ending,” Garson says of the tropical hideaway. “It is almost that old saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’”

DVR the Season Premiere of “White Collar”

Of course, life in paradise is too good to be true and it isn’t too long before Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) realizes that Neal is in jeopardy when Agent Kramer (Beau Bridges) sics the dangerous Agent Kyle Collins (Mekhi Phifer) on Neal’s trail.

In his effort to save Neal — he was the one that gave him the signal to run, Peter’s desperate search to locate him actually does more harm than good and sets in motion a chain of daring events that take place over several episodes.

Preview the Season Premiere of “White Collar”:

XfinityTV spoke to Garson before the premiere to get the scoop on what fans can expect to see this season. Here is what he had to say:

Is there something specific you are looking forward to fans seeing when the show premieres tonight?
To be honest, we don’t watch episodes until they air. I can tell you that starting Tuesday, I am wildly excited to see the first two episodes that were shot outside of New York because the show is going to look really different. There is also the emotional stuff that is coming up later this season with Neal finding out about his past and his family. It has been really fun to shoot. I think the fans and us are going to freak out watching.

Can the relationship between Neal and Mozzie withstand anything?
I do believe that the relationship can withstand anything. Even though, because it is a TV show, we have to tease: “This is it. I am never talking to you again,” I think we have established after three seasons, there is going to be a way for these two guys to always take care of each other. It comes up again right at the start of season four. This is it! They are going to walk away from each other again. I think the audience is going to figure out that they aren’t — at least for three or four more seasons.

What have you discovered about Mozzie now that you didn’t know in the first season?
I think I discovered more about the character in terms of how important his connection to people would become. Mozzie seemed like someone who didn’t need anyone around. Neal has really brought him out of his shell in New York, and now, Mozzie actually has relationships that are important to him. I didn’t see that on the page when I started the show. That has been really interesting and, even more so this year when we are out of country and then with what brings us back to New York.

Watch: Matt Bomer Talks “White Collar” Season 4:

Can you talk about Mozzie’s relationship with Peter, or “The Suit” as he likes to call him. Does he just work with Peter for Neal’s sake, or is there a grudging admiration?
I think grudging admiration is a great phrase, because they actually need to hate each other and in that hatred of each other, they love each other a lot. It gives Peter a sense of action and danger; and it gives Mozzie a sense of safety that this government agent, who he totally mistrusts everything about, is actually watching over him and he is really not going to be in that much trouble. I guarantee you if we had a scene of Mozzie sitting alone at a bar drunk, he would be bragging that he is very good friends with a high-ranking FBI official. It is almost at the point where they need each other. They need this tension between them and I think they both enjoy it

Can you talk about what guest stars we are going to see this season?
Do they really matter besides me? Right out of the gate we have Mekhi Phifer, who is really amazing. We are working with Treat Williams right now, which is very exciting. Titus Welliver is in the episode we are shooting right now. We always have such an embarrassment of riches on this show with our guest stars. Certainly the people we have had in the past too, like Beau Bridges, Griffin Dunne, Aidan Quinn and Andrew McCarthy. We get really good people who want to do the show. That is a real compliment to us. Not so much to the show, but us as actors. I know myself when I am asked to guest on a show, it is always about who the actors are. It is quite a compliment when they want to come and play with us.

Is Mozzie going to get a love interest?
I have no idea. I wish. I have had two so far on this show and I liked both of them. I thought they were really fun episodes. I think Mozzie in a relationship is a lovely thing, but I haven’t seen any scripts in which Mozzie gets any action.

How hard was it to stay in character shooting in Puerto Rico?
This is not the hardest character for me to play, mainly because he is the closest to myself with the same kind of wit and feelings, but also because the writing is so perfectly geared to our characters, so it is actually not a lot of heavy lifting once we get there. It was actually just really fun. The Mozzie and Elizabeth scenes are really fun because of the unlikely friendship. Are there any more coming up soon? You are not the first person to ask about that. I guess those scenes are very popular. We did shoot a number of scenes this season with just me and Tiffany, which is great fun. Both of them are someone who the other one would never be friends with other than because of this situation and they have a mutual like of each other. I think Elizabeth feels protective toward Mozzie; Mozzie, while finding The Suit to be boorish, finds Mrs. Suit to be a little elegant as she knows about fine wine and literature, so he appreciates her.

Hopefully, it will be seasons away, but when it comes, how would you like Neal and Mozzie to wind up?
I would like it to be seasons away, but I would like Mozzie to end up very, very wealthy — oh, no, that’s the actor — I would like Mozzie to end up happy. Whatever that means, we have to figure out, and, I think, in the coming seasons we will figure out exactly what Mozzie wants. I leave those kinds of things to really talented writers. I think when shows end well, they end with characters getting what they need and that is up to the writers.

Watch a Season 3 Recap:

“White Collar” premieres its fourth season tonight at 9/8c on USA Network.