Tim DeKay Previews Emotional 'Collar' Finale
The fourth season of White Collar has been fraught with highs and lows for TV's most dapper duo. But the boys arguably hit their roughest patch to date at the end of last week's penultimate episode after Peter ignored Neal's pleas, accidentally sending Sam into the wind and forcing the con man to declare their friendship over.
And while tonight's season finale won't see Neal and Peter kiss and make up, the action-packed episode will have your heart racing from start to finish. Plus, as Tim DeKay tells me, the show's signature cliffhanger is like nothing White Collar has ever attempted before!
TheInsider.com: First things first, congratulations on winning last week's boxing match!
Tim DeKay: [laughs] Thank you! Let me tell you, it was interesting to see the writers figure out who would win. I think the way it played out was amazing – Neal and Peter certainly went off the rehearsed path, but it made sense. As it should have. I think something the show always has to be true to is that it illustrates while Neal is cool and it's fun to go into his world, in the end, the F.B.I. has to be right. And win.
Insider.com: How was it to film that scene?
Tim: It was as difficult as we thought it would be. It was also tiring to do. You have to be in great shape to box, we probably did that scene 25 times, at least. And what's most tiring is selling a punch as opposed to giving a punch. It takes more energy. And I have to say, [Matt] did get me once. It wasn't Matt who punched me exactly, he punched my glove. I went right when I should have gone left so my glove went into his punch and then my glove went into my nose -- when you get hit in the nose, your eyes water so it kind of looks like you’re crying. But I kept saying, "I'm not crying! I'm not crying!" Which only makes it worse.
Insider.com: Given their history, it felt like there was so much more fueling their fight than the Sam thing. I'd imagine that Neal was upset about Ellen, while Peter must still be angry about the treasure and Elizabeth getting kidnapped. Did it feel like this fight was four seasons in the making?
Tim: Yes, that's exactly right and these are things you hope an audience realizes for themselves. Both in Peter and Neal's psyches, there was that cathartic expression. Their relationship has become familial and while you always love your siblings, there are times when you just want to hit them. Afterwards you can hug and makeup, but it's beyond an "I'm sorry" here.
Insider.com: What does Peter make of Neal ending their friendship?
Tim: When he said, "We're over," I put a reminder in Peter's head that this relationship has to stay professional. While he cares for Neal greatly and feels sorry for the life he's had up until now, Peter doesn't feel like he did anything wrong. I also think Peter believes Neal is only saying that now. To say something like that, in the way he said it, shows there is great care behind it. It means they were either hurt or angry because they care so much. There's actually hope because of the way he said it that they can get their relationship back to a good place. But Peter's main objective is always to do the right thing, and he's reminded sometimes that Neal doesn't always do the right thing.
Insider.com: Especially this season. Peter has embraced the shades of grey like never before. what excites you about that?
Tim: There are times when the writers will give me a scene and the words will state that Peter is leaning a little more to the left or to the right of that line, but in the next scene, he goes back. That's continually my challenge with Peter – he goes back and forth depending on the situation. At the end of that episode, when Neal says he has a right to see Sam, Peter's thinking, "No you don't." Sometimes I think Neal forgets that at any second Peter could pull the trigger and sent him back to jail. As much as Peter doesn't want to do that, I think sometimes Neal needs to be reminded of the situation here.
Insider.com: White Collar is known for its major cliffhangers -- how does this year's stack up?
Tim: It's a cliffhanger of a different milieu than others. It's something White Collar has never done before. It's more of an emotional and cerebral cliffhanger than anything else. The great thing about where we are in the show right now is that as you get to know these characters more, a cliffhanger can have different depth to it.
Insider.com: Looking ahead, what are you still hoping to get to do with Peter?
Tim: I still love it when Peter goes undercover and does it well, because I still think that's a bit of a surprise to Neal. I think there might be something interesting in the idea of Mozzie doing something that really jeopardizes their relationship as well. Something that forces Peter to say to Neal, "I have to bring him down for this." I also enjoy the episodes when there's a great amount of intelligence required to solve the cases – as an audience member, it's so fun to wonder how we're going to figure things out. The more intelligent the bad guys, the more intelligent Peter and Neal can become.
White Collar airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on USA.