Andrew McCarthy Speaks About His White Collar Role

In tonight’s episode of White Collar, we meet Vincent Adler – the billionaire con artist who not only made Neal Caffrey who he is, he is also behind the events that have shaped the series so far. Yesterday, I had the chance to take part in a Q&A with the man who is bringing Vincent Adler to life on the small screen – the multi-talented actor/director/writer Andrew McCarthy, who joined us from the Ruby Mountains in Nevada where he’s working on an article about heli-skiing.

Andrew’s character has been alluded to on White Collar for so long that it actually made it easy for him to step into Vincent Adler’s shoes. He mentioned that he’d seen White Collar before and enjoyed it, and liked the role he was offered, so he accepted. “The role fit me like a glove. I suppose I eventually turn into being a bit of a bad guy as it were, but you sort of find something kind of charming and likeable about these people. It was good fun and well written.” He didn’t have to set up any of the framework or backstory for this character, and said it was a “delicious” role to play. “I didn’t have to set the table, I just came in and ate dessert.”

When asked if there were any challenges to playing Vincent Adler, he joked, “I’m suddenly the old mentor. I used to play your part it seems like 5 years ago (referring to Bomer), and now I’m the old mentor.”

It’s no secret that Andrew’s always been known for playing the good guy. When asked how portraying the bad guy differs from the good guy, he responded, “The bad guy’s more fun and gets better lines. No bad guy thinks they’re a bad guy. It’s all completely justified and makes absolute sense. This is the only way that one could behave to serve one’s needs. There’s great freedom in playing the bad guy. You don’t have that obligation to do all of the sort of morally right things.”

There weren’t any particular con artists that he studied to prepare for the role, but mentioned that all the research you need is to read the New York Post. He also commented, “I think greed is a pretty universal concept and … everybody wants power and wants to be in control. We’ve all read about them time and again, and we’re shocked by it, but it’s not that far from who we are. They’re just sort of doing things that we don’t do because we have a bit of conscience.”

Andrew was very honest when asked about the perception of TV versus film now compared to when his career began. “Well from when I started acting a hundred years ago in the early 80s, you only did a television show if your movie career was over. But now I’d say most of the best writing is on television.”

The director side of Andrew really came out in this conversation, saying that he thinks White Collar is “elegantly shot”. He also shared, “White Collar has a very interesting visual look, and it’s one of the few shows that go really, really wide, and they shoot New York in all its glory, the cameras are low and always moving. It has this real dynamic, and that’s one of the things I like about the show, that I wanted to be involved with it because I thought it didn’t just punch to the close up. Very rarely do they go for the close up, in fact when they do, it means something.” And it seems that his observations on the series have not gone unnoticed – he shared that he’ll be directing an episode during Season 3.

I had the opportunity to ask him whether his directing has added another dimension or dynamic to his performances in front of the camera. He had this to say: “I’m a much easier actor to work with now. It’s absolutely true. If a director wants me to stand in a corner, stand on my head and face the other way, I’m like yeah, that’s fine, I can do that … One sort of influences the other. I’m certainly a better director because I’ve been an actor, and I’m a more pliable actor because I’ve had to deal with actors from the director’s side.”

Fans of White Collar are in for a real treat tonight. Everything we know about this series so far is shaped by events in this episode, and Andrew’s appearance is delightful. Although he wasn’t able to comment on how long his arc is going to last, based on what I’ve seen so far, I hope we get at least a few more episodes with him in it.

Be sure to watch Andrew McCarthy on White Collar at 10/9c on USA Network.

Photo Courtesy of USA Network

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