From the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Amazon pilot The Last Tycoon follows Golden Boy Monroe Stahr (Bomer), as he battles father figure and boss Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) for the soul of their movie studio. In a world darkened by the Great Depression and the growing influence of Hitler’s Germany, Monroe’s passion and ambition keeps him fighting to maintain his voice in 1930s Hollywood.
From the looks of the pilot, The Last Tycoon (co-starring Lily Collins) has impeccable costumes and is beautifully shot, bringing you right back into that era of 1930s Hollywood.
Since the way Amazon’s format worksis that they post the pilot first in order to gauge the public’s reaction and then order the rest of the series, Bomer commented, “Amazon has this incredibly unique, diplomatic process where people’s voices are heard, and we’re using this great interconnectedness we have, via the internet, to weigh in and to have a say in what we want to see and what we don’t.” He continued:
Having done television for almost 20 years now, a pilot is kind of like a rough draft. It’s like bringing people into your ultrasound and hooking up to the monitor and going, “Isn’t my baby beautiful?” “Yeah. I can only see the outline of it, but it looks like it might be.”
For me, I look at a pilot and go, “I see the landscape. I see the characters. I see the direction and the potential of the story.” And I also go, “That didn’t work. I could change that. Maybe that works. I don’t know. We’ll see.” For me, I look at it, as an actor, as what can I improve upon? So, to have it out there and judged solely on its own merit is really a unique experience for me.
Bomer also detailed how he prepared for the role:
I did a lot…I took movement classes that I wore my double-breasted suits to. I worked on my elocution because people spoke differently then. I was really trying to toe the line. I think that if I had spoken exactly the way that people spoke back then, it probably would have alienated people. At the same time, I at least felt the obligation to speak clearly. This is pre-Brando and pre-James Dean. Nobody mumbled back then. They spoke very clearly. I very comprehensively studied Irving Thalberg and his biographies. He’s who Fitzgerald roughly modeled the character after. He worked for him, as a writer, when he was at MGM. And, of course, I revisited the novel and the politics of MGM and the studio system at the time and familiarized myself with the world. There was a great deal of physical and literary work that went into it.
As for why he ultimately wanted to take on the role of Monroe Stahr (given that he was Billy Ray‘s one and only choice for the role), Bomer added:
I’m a long time Fitzgerald fan, as probably everyone in America is. And I’ve always been fascinated by that theme of, what is the price of the American dream and what parts of your soul do you walk away with? The conflict of art versus commerce was also very interesting to me…it was an incredible opportunity to work with really wonderful creatives and the script was fantastic. What was so interesting to me about the studio system was that a lot of the politics that were in play then are so really relevant to today.
On whether or not he would have enjoyed living in the 1930s time period himself, Bomer said it depends on who he’d be and where he was.
…Some of the politics, in terms of just the business and it being show business, hasn’t really changed that much. Some of the things I experience are probably pretty similar to what I would have experienced back then. But in some ways, we’ve grown exponentially. So, I’m really grateful to live in the times that I live in. I’d want to go back and party for a week, but I think I’d be ready to get back in my time capsule.
When it comes to the future of the series (which, as mentioned, has yet to be confirmed), Bomer added he was superstitious about hearing what Ray has in store should it get ordered in full.
Billy is a preternatural enthusiast. He would say things to me like, “Now, let me tell you about Episode 3.” I’m a bit superstitious, having done television for quite some time, and I would say, “Billy, I can’t wait to hear about it, but let’s just stay here for right now, see what happens, and enjoy this moment. When that moment comes, I want to talk to you all about it.”
Bomer also has a Montgomery Clift biopic project more or less in the works, the status on which he elaborated:
It is and it isn’t [happening]. If it were an easy story to tell, I think it would have been done a long time ago. Right now, we’re on a new draft that’s due in September, and we’re just making sure we get the story right. The last thing I want to do is having someone get behind a Montgomery Clift biopic, and then just do the first script that came out. Sometimes it takes a long time for these things to gestate. And I’m only going to do it if it’s the right story that’s told for the right reason, and that’s relevant to this day and age, as much as it pays homage to who this man was. Should that happen during the time when I’m still young enough to play him, perfect. And if not, hopefully someone else will get to play him because I do think it’s an incredible story.