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Matt Bomer meets Papi Chulo
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-06-11

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There's a little indie movie hitting theaters on June 7 by the name of Papi Chulo that tells a unique story with an openly gay main character. Matt Bomer stars as Sean, a weatherman who is currently battling some demons daily. When he meets Ernesto, a migrant worker in LA played by Alejandro Patino, his life changes in unexpected ways.

Many will know Bomer from his length resume including films and television appearances that have earned him a Golden Globe win and an Emmy nomination among other awards. Much of the acclaim happened thanks to the Ryan Murphy drama The Normal Heart about the AIDS crisis in the '80s. Roles in FX's American Horror Story followed and he directed an episode called Creator/Destroyer on The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story in 2018.

He made his Broadway debut in The Boys in the Band revival that now leads into a Netflix remake next year and this year he played the role of Negative Man in the comic television show Doom Patrol.

Bomer is married to publicist Simon Halls and they have three children together.

Windy City Times: How did you hear about the movie Papi Chulo in the first place?

Matt Bomer: John Butler is the director and showed it to me. I loved the story and tone of the piece right from the get-go.

I felt I understood his sense of humor pretty well. We sat down and had a conversation together. We just hit it off. I fell in love with him as an artist, platonically obviously. We committed then and there that we would tell the story together.

WCT: The easy way into the Papi Chulo story would have been to make the worker Ernesto a hot guy, but he's not. What are your thoughts on that?

MB: There were a lot of things that happened in the script that subverted expectations. That is interesting to me. If I can be surprised on what to expect, then I am more engaged as an audience member. That was what happened when I first read the script in terms of the turns Sean takes, who he's attracted to and the relationship that comes in the middle of the film.

The physical relationship they get past is the fact these people come from completely different worlds, backgrounds and lives. They come together to form a real authentic friendship.

We live in very divisive times and these two people come to know each other and become friends.

WCT: I was happy to see Mexican culture represented in authentic ways in the film.

MB: Yes and Ernesto was the hero of the film. We do spend a good amount of time with Sean to show his isolation and loneliness, but it is the compassion of Ernesto that enables things to transcend to something else.

WCT: What would you like audiences to get out of Papi Chulo?

MB: We live in times where we are connected but lonelier than ever. The only way to get out of that is genuine human interaction. I hope people that see the film will want to put a face on someone they would normally pass by. I hope they say hi and engage with people more, to see we are all human beings and not a threat.

Both of the leads in the movie are from communities that are often marginalized and stereotyped on film. My hope is audiences will get a real sense of three dimensional characters from both of those communities.

WCT: Speaking of gay, what are you doing for Pride?

MB: I'm in New York for LA Pride and I'm in LA for WorldPride, which really bums me out. I will start work on The Boys in the Band remake, so that's the way I will celebrate this very important Pride year.

WCT: I loved you in the Doom Patrol television series. That's an old comic I read as a kid, but your character Larry Trainor was not originally gay.

MB: No, he was not. Which version did you read? There have been three of them.

WCT: They were from my dad's collection so it was the original one.

MB: Cool! Well, this is different. I think executive producers Jeremy Carver and Greg Berlanti are so brilliant. Nobody does superheroes better than Greg.

The story is so character driven and unique. It's honestly like nothing else I have read before. That only became more apparent the further we got into the show. I got to go on a journey with Larry and he became a rich, fully developed character.

WCT: How was wearing the makeup?

MB: Time consuming, but fun. I love the makeup artist on the show named Travis Pates. There are also some great special effects artists that I worked with based in Atlanta. Even though it would take over six hours sometimes, we would just have a ball. I would have to sit completely still and not even speak sometimes because they were putting things in my mouth. There were certain days in August where it was shvitzy underneath all of that silicone and it was a new challenge. When you can contacts on your eyes you have to adjust your process in a way.

WCT: Ryan Murphy has been a big part of your career. How did you first meet him?

MB: I auditioned for Glee right before I got White Collar. I picked a really silly song that I don't remember and we had a general meeting for The Normal Heart. It was years before Normal Heart was made, but I ended up with a guest spot on Glee. That was the first job I did for him.

WCT: Are you in the new season of American Horror Story?

MB: No. I realize I am going to be asked that for every year, but I have commitments through the end of this year.

WCT: Are you speaking of the Montgomery Clift story?

MB: No. That one is still in turnaround. If I am going to be telling someone else's story it really needs to be done well and right. I don't want to skip anything or do a hurried version. The people we were working with couldn't get on the same page. For now, I am doing The Boys in the Band.

WCT: What about a Magic Mike part three?

MB: If they wait too long it will be called Magic Mike AARP. If they want me in the shape of the other movies then they better pull the trigger in the next few years!

WCT: Do you think being out helps or hurts your career?

MB: There are certain doors that I don't have access to, but I have artistic associations with people who do support LGBTQIA+ artists. Who knows if I would have been with Ryan Murphy or Greg Berlanti if I hadn't come out?

There are advantages and disadvantages. To me, the most important advantages are not what you get from the workplace. I wanted to be true to my personal life. I wasn't going to have our kids grow up in an environment where I had to cover up my sexuality or hide. I wanted to be my most authentic self around them. If people in the business have a problem with that, fuck them!

WCT: How are your twins?

MB: The twins have the most amazing relationship that I have ever experienced. Thankfully, they adore each other and want to be around each other all the time. We have to work to separate them. They are very different kids and very yin and yang. I love all of our kids so much. We are so lucky to have kids!

WCT: When are you coming to Chicago?

MB: I would love to come there. I have only been a few times. It was for a wedding. We went to Boystown and had the best time. I spent part of my childhood in St. Louis, so I will always be a midwestern guy at heart.

The other time was when I was on a soap opera. I would go and do Sear openings where I did signings. I was 22 and needed some extra income, okay? It was a very common thing to do back then, put that gavel down, don't judge!


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