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Q&A: 'White Collar' Star Tim DeKay

Brittany Frederick Brittany Frederick
January 24th, 2012 1:00pm EST

There's a whole White Collar promo about Matt Bomer. But it would be criminal to overlook his co-star Tim DeKay, who's equally brilliant and just as important to the show's success.

Tim DeKay

His character, Special Agent Peter Burke, couldn't be more solid. Peter has a successful job at the FBI and a stable marriage to Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen). The role is a perfect fit for Tim, who's just as reliable as his character. He's got a long list of TV credits to his name, including a recent guest appearance on NBC's Chuck, being one of the good things about Law & Order: Los Angeles, and he'll always be Ray Mitchel from two episodes of ABC's Sports Night to me.

He is one of those actors who, when you see him, you know that you're going to get a good performance - whether it's one scene or if he's number one on the call sheet. Not to take anything away from Matt (who deserves all the attention he gets), but Tim is one of those actors who makes me smile every time I see him. Even if we'll never see a promo spot involving how hot he is.

Tim recently chatted with me about the remainder of White Collar's third season (continuing tonight on USA) and how the role of Peter Burke has impacted his already impressive career.

There's no doubt that White Collar has made Matt a star, but what people might not know is that you've garnered a lot of fans from the show, too. How do you think that playing Peter has affected your career?

I think it's affected it in a positive way. It's funny how you go through this career and you take the roles that you're attracted to, and the Powers That Be like seeing you play these roles.

What I like about Peter is that he's got many personalities. Peter can do the action. There's a great intelligence to him. You get to see many different aspects of what I have done as an actor, and what I can do as an actor.

How do you think Peter has evolved over three seasons?

You always look to see how your character evolves through relationships. He's more lenient with Neal, knowing that Neal in the end will help him out. What has changed to a degree is his trust in Neal, but he will never trust Neal implictly.

I think Peter, as time goes on, certainly in this season, has a big decision to make. It's going to come down to Peter's word whether or not Neal should have his commutation. We have some great guest stars. Beau Bridges [who appeared in the midseason finale "Countdown"] will be a big factor.

Is there any moment in these final few episodes of the third season that you're really proud of?

I'm proud of nearly all of them. It certainly was exciting and thrilling and intense to direct an episode this season. It was very exciting to play out the last episode. I think it's our biggest cliffhanger yet.

There's this uncanny dissatisfaction we have as actor, where you think, "I wish I had one more take. I could have done it better." Overall, I'm very proud of the show and proud of the work everybody does on it.

You make your White Collar directing debut this season. When I talked to Andrew McCarthy about his time on the show, he said his acting experience was really helpful in directing. Did you find that to be true?

I did. When you've been at it as long as I have, your acting experience does help your directing. There's this other part of you that kicks in as a director and that's simply the realization that you're a storyteller. I realized I love to tell stories.

That's a big part of directing. Sometimes people try to get fancy or clever; no, just tell the story. What shot is going to help tell the story? That has been something that I've had a knowledge of for quite awhile now.

My thanks to Tim DeKay for this interview! Don't miss him as White Collar continues its third season tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on USA.

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

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