We Chat with Negative Man -- DOOM PATROL Star Matt Bomer

Joe McCabe

Joe McCabe

May 8, 2019


You might have seen Matt Bomer’s handsome face in Magic Mike or American Horror Story: Hotel, but lately he’s been keeping his good looks (mostly) under wraps as Larry Trainor, AKA Negative Man, on DC Universe's Doom Patrol. We caught up with Bomer as he discussed the importance of playing a gay superhero, sharing his performance with another actor, and the strangest thing he’s had to do on Doom Patrol so far…



On sharing the role of Larry Trainor with another actor…




Matthew Zuk, who I think is phenomenal, does the physical work. We correspond via email, via phone call, via text; and whenever I’m down in Atlanta, we spend a good amount of time together and talk about the character. But it is really unique. It’s not like voicing animation, where you voice the role, and then they animate to you, and then you come back and do a polish. It’s really a true collaboration in that I just kind of throw spaghetti at the wall, he does his stuff, and then we go back and polish it at the end. I think it’s something that -- there’s no precedent for it. I don’t know that anybody’s ever really done something like that before. So I think we’re still figuring out, "What’s the best way to do this? Do you do this? Do I do this?" But I love it. It’s a really unique challenge that I’ve never faced before. I don’t know any other actors who shared a role physically with somebody else, but then also come in and embodied it at certain points too.



On Larry Trainor’s closest ally…




I think in terms of the team, the person he’s the closest to is Rita. I think he seems to really innately understand her. You can tell in the first few episodes that you’ve seen that he has a good beat on who she is, what her history is, what kind of pain and pathos she carries around with her. I think he has real empathy and connection with her. Of all the people there, she has a good understanding of who he is and who he may be hiding. I know that, back in that time, it was very common... Like, my grandmother would say, "Oh, he’s a bachelor." I have a feeling Rita has probably worked with a few bachelors over her time in the movie industry. They've probably helped her out from time to time. I think she understands who he is, and they probably don’t have to talk about it. They can just spend time together, and watch her old movies, and he can be a fan, and they can enjoy their time together.



On why Doom Patrol’s weirdness was a draw for him...


I think that’s why I loved it actually. I’ve certainly read my share of comic-book scripts over the years, and I think if this had just been another formulaic, down-the-middle, or especially noirish, dark, all straight-faced, traditional, Gotham-y type of series, I would not have been a part of it. I think especially in the landscape in this day and age, to stand out, you need to be distinctive. My God, reading this script, you can call it whatever you want to, but it is absolutely distinctive, and it's own beast, and unabashedly so. That’s a big reason why I wanted to be a part of it, because it is so strange. But, obviously, reading the pilot, I only got a small snippet of that. It wasn’t really until I got into the Grant Morrison comics, and then the subsequent ones by authors after that, that I went, "Holy shit. Did everybody just do LSD and throw spaghetti against the wall? How did they come up with this?!" That sort of trippy, abstract, absurdist tone is what I love about the piece. It may be one of those things that you love or you hate, but it’s what I loved about it.



On playing a gay superhero as an out male actor…




It’s so important and I think it’s a big reason why I wanted to be a part of Doom Patrol, because I’d never really seen a gay male superhero. But what I loved most about the character is that, even though it’s a huge struggle internally for him, it’s not the sole thing that defines who he is. He’s such a multifaceted character. If it had just been one stereotypical thing, I think I would have had more reservations about it. But the fact that he is this nuanced character who has so many places to grow, and he has so much shadow, and so much light that he doesn’t even know he has, that’s what appealed to me just as much as his sexuality.



On the strangest thing he’s had to do on Doom Patrol


It’s pretty fucking weird to go down a donkey’s throat. So that was probably the first time that I went, "Okay, going down a donkey, going down a flatulent donkey’s throat..." Honestly, I love abstract, absurd. I love Salvador Dali. I love things that think outside the box that way and challenge us. I mean, my God, these directors are so phenomenal on the show at realizing these visions, as well as the production designers. One of the more absurd things for me are scenes like when I’m confronting the Spirit in the show, and it’s just me... I think it was almost 100 degrees on that sound stage, and it’s just me and a green screen. There’s nothing there. I didn’t have a template other than the comics as to what the Spirit looked like. There wasn’t even a tennis ball for me to look at. It was just a green piece of fabric and a green catwalk, and they were like, "Okay, and now it’s over here... And now it’s up in your face..." There’s like 40 people sitting there watching you while you’re basically just trying to be a five-year-old kid playing in the sandbox acting like no one’s watching.



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