"White Collar" (Season 4 premieres Tuesday, July 10 on USA at 9 p.m. ET) is one of USA's most popular dramas, and that probably has something to do with the series' two leading men. The unique -- and sometimes comical -- partnership between sly con man Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) and FBI Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) has kept viewers coming back for more season after season, week after week.
"Sometimes Peter is [Neal's father] and sometimes Neal is Peter's father," Matt Bomer told a small group of reporters, including HuffPost TV, on the set of "White Collar" in June. "Sometimes they're brothers and sometime they're bros and sometime they're jilted lovers. It's a pretty comprehensive relationship." But is that all about to change?
In the "White Collar" Season 4 premiere, Neal is ditching his formal suit-and-tie attire for some requisite vacation apparel -- including his dearly missed fedora -- while he and Mozzie (Willie Garson) hide out in an exotic locale. However, Neal starts to realize that he's not the kind of guy who can kick back on the beach for the rest of his life. "Neal's not ready for retirement," said Bomer. "He gets really stir crazy, really fast."
After the dramatic Season 3 finale of "White Collar", it'd be an understatement to say that things are a little tense between Neal and Peter, who put his FBI career on the line for Neal's freedom. However, that doesn't mean these two won't reconcile.
"I love that moment [in the finale] when Peter subtly shakes his head and gives him the green light. In the moment, Peter didn't quite know what that meant until afterwards. He realized that he was truly giving him the green light to go wherever," DeKay said on set. "No matter where Neal goes, Peter can find him. He goes [to find Neal] because he felt that he put him there and now he's in danger. It's very personal. I think the key to these guys is making every big move personal so that they're more than just co-workers."
"Neal and Peter's dynamic is always fraught with distrust and different levels of tension, and they play with that a lot [this season]," Bomer added.
Things will stay "iffy" between the dynamic duo for quite some time, and DeKay wouldn't have it any other way. "I think they have to have the iffiness with one another. I think it works best when personally, there isn't any iffiness, but it's when professionally, there is an iffiness between them. If they don't trust each other personally, that's where we get in trouble. That's why I love these guys. Personally, these guys would do anything for each other."
Even if that means helping Neal sort out his daddy issues. "White Collar" Season 4 is finally exploring Neal's past, a storyline that "White Collar" fans have been waiting for since the series debuted. But they're not the only ones. "Getting to dive into Neal's past is something that I've been looking forward to for years," Bomer said.
"While [Peter] understands that Neal wants to know about his past, he's very cautious," said DeKay. "If it's Neal's past, he knows that there's got to be troubled involved there. He wants this guy to find out the truth about his father, but he wants him to do it the right way. So there's going to be some trouble that comes about because we're trying to do it the right way."
Treat Williams is also joining the "White Collar" cast in Season 4 as Sam, an elusive undercover officer who has some “deeply rooted ties to Neal’s past.” As Neal and Sam eventually grow closer, Peter has his doubts about the gruff officer.
"There's a great scene just between Peter and Treat's character," said DeKay. "It's another kind of chess game -- the same way that Peter and Neal have a chess game. At first, it looks like everything is going to be great. Peter is going to ingratiate him in some degree, from one cop to another cop, but there is a sense of danger with Sam -- physically danger, like life or death -- that isn't there with Neal. There's something in Peter's gut. He doesn't quite trust this guy."
Meanwhile, Neal will do what Neal does best. "Neal is highly impulsive, so when he hears that this is the only person who has the answers to his past, he's obviously going to push reason aside and go directly to what he wants," said Bomer. "In many ways, that serves him, and in many ways, that costs him.
"Sam, to him, is this Magic 8 Ball who has control over the situation because he gives out certain things and doesn't give out others," Bomer added. "But you can't push too hard, or he's going to run. So Neal has the kid gloves on with him because he wants to make sure that he can get all of the answers that he can."
Neal and Peter's tension eventually culminates in an epic boxing scene later in Season 4. "Neal gets some information before the boxing match that really puts them at odds, so then Neal sort of forgets the fight choreography and he starts to take it to the next level," Bomer teased. "That was a lot of fun... Thankfully, I had done enough cardio leading up to it that I think I was OK form by the time we got there. I think [Tim and I] were sort of clinging on to each other for dear life. 'We're going to get through this!'"
While Neal and Peter may be in store for some drama this season, things between co-stars Bomer and DeKay couldn't be better. Between the on set sing-alongs -- Fun.'s "We Are Young" is a current favorite, DeKay said -- and sharing boxing tips, Bomer and DeKay have a bit of a behind-the-scenes bromance. In fact, DeKay couldn't help but crack a few jokes at his "hairy" friend's expense.
"You never like to make fun of anybody's pain, but I know that Matt has hairy legs, and I know that he had to wax his legs [for "Magic Mike"]... I'm excited to see it and tease him about it!"
"White Collar" Season 4 premieres Tuesday, July 10 on USA at 9 p.m. ET.
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