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On Aug. 24, Matt Bomer volunteered at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in a partnership with the California Milk Processor Board to boost donations to Feeding America as part of a goal to provide 1 million meals and servings of milk to those in need throughout the state.
It was a rare in-person service commitment for Bomer, who amid the pandemic, has been keeping busy with three sons at home while pushing forward a slate of development projects and giving back to nonprofits via virtual appearances. But he tells The Hollywood Reporter that he was so inspired by his time alongside fellow volunteers downtown that he’s already committed to going back to the food bank during the holiday season. He talks to THR about the initiative, the upcoming Boys in the Band film and how to not get caught up in the drama of an ever-changing production calendar.
I saw the images of you visiting the food bank. How was it?
It was an amazing experience. It was so great to get to meet the volunteers and see the people who are out there every day, risking their lives to help others. They run a really tight ship over there. It’s all run really safely and it was great to get to be a part of it, if only for a moment. I already committed myself to come back for the holidays.
That’s amazing. I know you’ve done a lot of service work in the past, did it take on any special significance to show up during this time?
I think we’ve all wondered at this time when so much is in flux and we’re living in a completely unprecedented time, what can we do to help? How can we give back? What can we give of ourselves? That’s why this particular initiative really spoke to me. It’s so easy. In the time it takes you to take a selfie, you can mention @GotMilk on Instagram and feed 10 people. I want people to know that now through September 30, each hashtag #FoodForThought mission of kindness that’s shared or engaged with on Instagram, and that mentions @GotMilk generates a $1 Feeding America donation from the California Milk Processor Board to help contribute meals toward people in need. They’re trying to get to that one million meals goal. It takes five seconds to open a door for somebody and take a picture of it and put it on Instagram, and you would be feeding 10 people right now of the 4.2 million who are in need.
Your career has gone so well for so long, and you’ve stayed working at a pretty hectic pace. With the pandemic forcing so much time at home, that can sometimes lead to introspection. Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself during this time?
We’ve all been forced into a place of introspection at this time. I think we’ve all also realized that we’re more resilient than maybe we even thought we were. It’s been an amazing time to sit and listen to voices that need to be heard and to try to find ways to give back. I know that for me, my life is so transient as an actor, this is the longest I’ve gone without being on an airplane to a faraway place. The silver lining in all of this, for me, is the amount of quality time I’ve had with our family and getting to be there for so many great moments. A lot of the creativity that I would put into work is now being used in just trying to figure out how to keep our kids engaged on a day-to-day basis and giving them a sense of structure. I take piano lessons, I’ve been writing and working on things in development. So, there are ways. You can’t stop Hollywood. Things keep grinding along.
You’ve stayed busy with a lot of virtual events, the DC FanDome, appearances for charity …
It’s almost become a part-time job, just recording videos for people, public service announcements, messages for people’s charities, initiatives, things like that. It’s become more or less a part-time job for me now. I’m more than happy to do it.
How do you manage the requests?
Most people come to me personally, usually via Instagram. Sometimes they’ll come through a publicist, but it’s usually personal messaging. What am I going to do? Say no? “Sorry, I can’t record that video. I have to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or macaroni and cheese at 1 p.m.” It’s not like I’m out gallivanting around the world on location somewhere. There’s no right or wrong way to respond to the crisis that we’re in. There’s nothing wrong with not doing anything. But for me, I personally needed to feel like I could help in some way or wanted to try to feel like I could contribute in whatever way I could, even if it just meant recording a silly minute long video.
The stills from the film version of Boys in the Band were just released. It’s such a beloved property, coming off the Tony win, now with the film version. Will there be any surprises for diehard fans?
It was such a blessing [to film]. I don’t know if I’ll ever in my career again get a chance to work with the same cast and director from a stage production on a film. Obviously, it’s a completely different medium, it’s a much more intimate medium. Lines that you played to the back of the house, you can’t play that way in a close-up. So we were fortunate that we had this incredible sense of trust and ensemble in each other, having done a show eight times a week. That really informed the work we did on film. It gave us permission to take risks in front of each other. We had this incredible director in Joe Mantello, who knew how to calibrate things from stage to film. There are new aspects of the piece that I think are new, but it’s also really stayed really true to the source material, which is wise because Mart Crowley wrote a really groundbreaking, phenomenal play that I think is important and deserving of its place in our theatrical history.
Work-wise, what’s the next thing on your slate when production resumes?
It’s really in flux. There are things at different levels of development. There’s an independent film that I’ve been attached to for years, that one day I’ll get a call, but it’s going at the end of October and the next day I’ll get a call, “Oh, it’s not going.” And then the next day I’ll get a call, “Wait, we think it’s going to happen in November.” So it’s so much, you really can’t get caught up in the sturm und drang of it, and the drama of the day-to-day. I am grateful that there will be stuff coming down the line at some point.
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