‘A lot was go­ing on then’

Matt Bomer plays haunted whiz kid in ‘The Last Ty­coon’

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY FRA­ZIER MOORE

When he landed the lead in Ama­zon Prime’s “The Last Ty­coon,’’ Matt Bomer had never read the time­less F. Scott Fitzger­ald novella on which the se­ries is based. But by chance, he had just fin­ished an­other cel­e­brated novel set in 1930s Hol­ly­wood, Nathanael West’s “The Day of the Lo­cust.’’

“I was con­tem­plat­ing the themes both books deal with: How do you main­tain your artistry in such a com­mer­cial in­dus­try as the movies — and can you? And I was think­ing about how much Hol­ly­wood has changed since that time pe­riod. And how lit­tle has re­ally changed.’’

Be­fore long, Bomer would be por­ing over Fitzger­ald’s prose to pre­pare for his “Last Ty­coon’’ por­trayal.

To be re­leased Fri­day, “The Last Ty­coon’’ tells of Mon­roe Stahr (Bomer), a whiz-kid film pro­ducer with a sure eye but a bro­ken heart — a con­gen­i­tal heart de­fect that means he is liv­ing on bor­rowed time while he mourns the re­cent death of his wife (and the stu­dio’s big­gest star).

Con­sumed with mak­ing a per­fect mo­tion pic­ture that can stand as his legacy, he clashes with his stu­dio boss and fa­ther fig­ure, Pat Brady, played by Kelsey Gram­mer.

The role fits Bomer as com­fort­ably as the rak­ish dou­ble­breasted suits in which Stahr pre­sides as the stu­dio’s golden boy. (Or maybe even more com­fort­ably: “Those suits were so snugly tai­lored that some­times I had a hard time breath­ing,’’ Bomer says with a laugh.)

It’s only the lat­est am­bi­tious turn by the 39-year-old ac­tor, who’s best known from his six sea­sons as trans­formed con artist Neal Caf­frey on “White Col­lar,’’ but who has also starred in “Magic Mike’’ and its se­quel, the TV film “The Nor­mal Heart’’ along­side Ju­lia Roberts and Jim Par­sons, and on “Amer­i­can Hor­ror Story: Ho­tel.’’

This “Last Ty­coon’’ fol­lows in the foot­steps of the 1976 fea­ture film di­rected by Elia Kazan and star­ring Robert De Niro and Robert Mitchum.

“Kazan and De Niro? We’re not try­ing to repli­cate the movie!’’ ex­claims Bomer. “But with our se­ries we can take the essence of the orig­i­nal story and fan it out. A lot was go­ing on then.’’

A lot is go­ing on with the se­ries’ lav­ish pro­duc­tion val­ues and the daz­zling Tin­sel­town style it re­vives.

“To recre­ate the 1930s in Hol­ly­wood is ir­re­sistible,’’ says ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Christo­pher Keyser, speak­ing for him­self as well as the au­di­ence: “It’s like this amaz­ing toy that you want to play with.’’

AP PHOTO

This im­age re­leased by Ama­zon shows Matt Bomer, left, and Kelsey Gram­mer in “The Last Ty­coon.”

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