One of everyone’s favorite characters on USA’s White Collar is Mozzie. His technical wisdom and quick whit, especially where Neal Caffrey is concerned, has completely endeared him to us. I recently sat in on a conference call with Willie Garson and as always, it’s a joy listening to him talk. He’s so enthusiastic about his work and life in general, it’s actually catchy!
In this week’s episode of White Collar, we are taken back in time when Peter sported a mustache, Neal was, well Neal and Mozzie and he will meet for the first time. Pretty exciting stuff, huh? Willie talked about this episode with pride, partly because his real-life son has a part in it. “Most exciting to me, an earlier partner of mine, we will find, is actually my real life son, Nathan, in this upcoming episode.”
This relationship between Neal and Mozzie is so tight and tonight we find out why. Garson talked about the episode. “We do find out how we all actually meet each other. What’s great about the writing on the show, so far, is that they just give out little tidbits, slowly but surely. We found out last season just in the line that Mozzie was a foster child. So slowly, things will come up as we go along, as usual.”
“I think it’s more for the audience to catch up to the evolution of the relationship. Our relationship is pretty solid. We’ll see in this upcoming episode how we meet and what bonds us, what brings us together. Then we can just assume as our closeness and certainly through the shooting and everything that we really, really need each other. So I think, as far as we evolve, we’ve been doing crimes together for as long as we’ve been doing them. We just now are doing them for the good guys. It’s not really that different. So I think we’re just lifelong partners, crime partners from the day we met, and we’ll see how that develops at the beginning in this upcoming episode.”
Garson had no qualms about his job on the show when Mozzie was shot. In fact, he rather thought it was great fun! “Oddly enough I was not in fear for my job. I thought it was going to be very exciting. I knew it was going to be really exciting for the fans and that’s, again, I said this before, that is who we make it for. I knew it was going to be a big deal. Luckily, Mozzie has become a very beloved popular character and I knew that was going to really freak our audience out, which is great and it really did. I mean certain things that I don’t understand like trending, Twitter and things happen so fast after the New York airing of that episode that it was very satisfying to us. It was like, “This is great that people care enough about these characters.” So it was great. Anything that can throw them for a loop, obviously, if something—in certain shows you see like the lead character’s really in danger, but you know the lead character is not going away. I think there is always the possibility that a supporting character, like Mozzie, could go away to the audience and we have a lot of fun with it.”
In the course of this conversation, we discovered that if you really want to know Willie Garson, just watch Mozzie. “What’s great about me playing Mozzie, for me, is that it’s the closest to myself that I’ve ever played. His world views and his wry sense of humor are very in tuned with my own. So that’s been really just a treat to play. “
So what is this love affair we have with Mozzie? Why do we love him so much? “I think that it’s a really well drawn character and I think there’s a lot of heart by Mozzie. Also just, in general, in the world of theater and drama, Mozzie’s a vulnerable character. Those are the kinds of characters that audiences throughout time have been drawn to. There’s a vulnerability, a sweetness to that Mozzie that people find very attractive and lucky me I get to play it. So, I think those are the things that draw people to Mozzie.” I think of a favorite stuffed toy from my childhood when I think of Mozzie. I think that’s why we were so shocked and worried at his shooting on the show.
I wanted to know how Mozzie’s shooting will impact him throughout the rest of the season. Garson had this to say, “We do reference it, obviously a lot. Mozzie is—it’s going to take him awhile to not be so cautious. He’s a little skittish right now about danger. So we will address that.” We also find out that there will be more Mozzie-centered episodes coming up, which is sheer delight to me.
Don’t forget to tune in to tonight’s episode of White Collar at 10/9c, on USA.