'White Collar': Tim DeKay Teases Jazz Episode, Peter's Reassignment Blues and Neal's Father (Q&A)

The actor, who will be directing an episode this season, revealed to THR that Peter will find his way back to white collar division in the near future.
"White Collar"

Things are about to shift on White Collar.

Now that FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) is no longer working in the white collar division alongside former con man Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer), expect the transition for Peter to be difficult, to say the least. In Tuesday's episode, fans will get a glimpse into his new assignment -- and his new boss. Let's just say, the white collar division has had quite a long leash.

When DeKay spoke to The Hollywood Reporter -- he was busy prepping for his second stint behind the camera on White Collar -- he touched on topics ranging from Magic Mike (Bomer co-stars) and directing to how Peter's reassignment affects his partnership with Neal and an upcoming jazz-themed hour. (And DeKay spilled the beans: Diahann Carroll will be singing again in the very near future.)

The Hollywood Reporter: In the second episode, viewers found out that Peter has been reassigned. How is that going to affect Peter and Neal's dynamic?Unknown Object

Tim DeKay: I think it's interesting when the writers put Peter and Neal at a place where they’re not quite [together]. It adds for a nice tension. But these two have a great partnership so even though one could be in the North Pole and one could be in the South, the nature of their partnership still works. With Peter working in this different location, it adds great dynamic to their relationship. Neal comes by with some nice lunches -- and even though Peter is, for the time being -- no longer in the white collar division, he still is able to help Neal and company out with solving crimes.

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THR: It’s funny to see Peter not in his element because we rarely see him in that state. What was that like for you to play him a bit off-kilter and unsure of how to navigate the waters he's been put in?

DeKay: Peter is not your typical FBI agent. There’s a vulnerability and a sense of humor that is fun to play and I’m glad people enjoy seeing it. So when you put him in a different environment, the writers have certainly made some situations come about. As an actor, I love [seeing] my character be out of his realm of comfort.

THR: In his reassignment, Peter's been forced to work a more blue collar job and we see him do busy work. It's basically data entry he’s doing ..

DeKay: Right. It is. Peter is always going to want to do a good job and it could be one of the most boring jobs. Of course what’s underneath is that you see him suffering; he’s suffering gravely and that makes for good comedy.

THR: Is there a scene that stuck out for you that was particularly funny?

DeKay: One of the scenes that I laughed out loud when I first read it was when Peter was waiting until 5 o’clock and his boss was just standing there. [They were] waiting for one minute and when you’re filming a scene like that you have to trust that the silence is going to be valuable.

THR: What can you say about how he goes back into white collar division because we all know that day will come.

DeKay: He has been reassigned for the time being and eventually he’ll go back otherwise we’ll have to call the TV show Evidence White Collar, which doesn’t have the same sexy appeal that White Collar does. For me it was fun to play outside of the normal world, [The way the show] I think handles how any of the characters starts to go down a path that isn't the chosen one, somehow by [them] doing the right thing that’s what gets them back to where they should be, be it solving a crime or staking out another FBI agent, finding a fugitive on an island.

THR: We also know that Neal’s father is going to be introduced this season. When that time comes, how do you think Peter will react?

DeKay: Peter wants what’s best for best for Neal and Peter has this gut about certain things and when something is something is off. A number of characters revolve around Neal’s family and his past because its certainly a checkered one, so Peter is [more] skeptical of Neal digging too much into his past.

THR: Obviously your co-star (Bomer) starred in Magic Mike. Can you share any on-set antics poke fun?

DeKay: [Co-star] Willie [Garson] and I have enjoyed teasing Matt about the movie. Willie, you’d be interested to know, there is a video somewhere with Willie jumping on the set tearing off his [clothes] and he was in a string bikini and he did a dance right on the stage. I don’t know where that video is, but Matt is great in [Magic Mike] and I hope there’s a Magic Mike 2, there’s a rumor to that effect. I told Willie to tone up and loosen up his hip, because they might need him for Magic Mike 2. [Laughs]

THR: The Yankee Stadium episode last season was your introduction into helming the show. Any details you can reveal about this episode?

DeKay: It was great shooting in Yankee Stadium. We can tell you that for this episode, jazz is going to be the center. [Co-star] Diahann Carroll will be singing. I don't know if the fans will be disappointed, but Willie will not be dancing.

White Collar airs 9 p.m. Tuesdays on USA.