Doom Patrol: Matt Bomer Talks Larry's Journey in Season 2, LGBTQ+ Representation and More
Doom Patrol is back with the second season of the critically acclaimed series having made its debut on DC Universe and HBO Max on Thursday with three brand-new episodes. The series picks up pretty much where Season 1 left off and finds its heroes dealing with not just the trauma and challenges that helped define Season 1, but a whole new challenge as well: a new team member of sorts, the Chief's daughter, Dorothy. Across the season, Dorothy will present new adventures and new difficulties for the heroes of Doom Patrol, but they won't be absolved of dealing with their own pain in the process. Each of the heroes still has a long journey ahead of them and that's especially true for Matt Bomer's Larry Trainor/Negative Man.
While Season 1 saw Larry make great strides in coming to terms with his sexuality, his disfigurement, and the Negative Spirit residing inside of him, healing isn't a one and done process. The first three episodes of Season 2 make it pretty clear that there's still a lot to unpack for Larry. ComicBook.com recently had a chance to talk with Bomer about Larry's Season 2 journey and the actor spoke a bit about how Season 2 will build upon Larry's existing progress as well as how the season ups the ante overall. We also chat about Larry's friendship with Rita (April Bowlby) as well as get a tease of some of the absolutely outlandish-sounding things to come.
We cover a lot of ground with Bomer in our chat so if you want to know all things Doom Patrol Season 2, read on for more. But be aware, there are a couple of very minor spoilers for the first three episodes of Season 2.
On upping the ante in Season 2
ComicBook.com: [For Season 2] it's like they somehow took all of the bonkersness, all of the genuineness, kept all the tone and the integrity the same and still somehow made it more of everything. How do you do that?
Matt Bomer: I mean, it was like, it's like I don't know. I mean, you have to ask them, I just like for me as an actor, it's like Christmas Day when I opened new scripts, it's like how are they going to... I know they're going to pull it off because I've read enough of their writing now to know that they will. But how are they going to do it? I just do it episode to episode, somehow.
Yeah. It somehow just keeps getting better and I'm like, "I don't understand the mechanics of how that's possible." I'm a writer and I don't even understand that, but it's amazing.
Well, somewhat the show is unprecedented. I had never seen that, I didn't know about Doom Patrol before this. And so, I had never seen... I mean, I've seen things like Deadpool that were a little bit more self-aware, but I'd never seen something as offbeat and quirky and abstract and absurd as this show. With a great sense of humor, but it's also so much about the human condition and the capacity for even the most marginalized people to find their hero.
And the same time still paying so much attention to the fan boys and girls out there delivering all the sort of bizarre, offbeat and absurd stories that made the comics so loved in the first place.prevnext
And it's just such an amazing thing to see come to life. You don't expect to see everything in one package that way, that continues to surprise, so that's amazing.
Yeah. I mean, the whole thing felt so risky to me in a great way, because I knew in my initial conversations with Greg Berlanti and Jeremy Carver, that it was, they had incredible plans and I read the script and I thought, "Oh my gosh, this is one of the funniest, strangest, most exciting things I've ever read, but are they going to be able to pull this off and are they going to be able to do it week to week?" And it just answered yes to every doubt I had.
And in your character in particular, all the characters go on a journey, like you said, it's very much rooted in the human condition. But Larry's journey is really complex and beautiful and there's self- discovery and self-acceptance, but there's all these other layers, and I think anyone can really see themselves in it. And he's already been through so much because as we get into season two, there's still so much more growth for him to go. Where do we find him on his journey in season two? Where is he at?
Well, what I love about the writers is that they didn't just, you have to remember everything that he'd been dealing with and coming to terms with had been simmering for basically, since the sixties. It's not like he was able to come out to everyone and all of a sudden just become this guy that has complete ownership over himself immediately. It's a process. He has a lot to work through. And I think what the season is about, not only for Larry, but for the whole group is about trauma and unearthing trauma and dealing with our own trauma. And how actions we've taken have traumatized others.
And so, for Larry, when we meet him, he's definitely has a more harmonious relationship with the spirit inside of him. He's learning how to, to live with it and communicate with it in a healthier manner. Although, there still are some surprise wake-up calls that the spirit delivers to him over the course of the season. But he's really, it's really about him trying to connect with his family and try to heal some of the generational fallout that's happened because of some of the decisions he's made and the decisions the chief has made.
And there are these beautifully written scenes that are just so such a testament of what the show is, where you have the 1960's version of Larry meeting his fully grown son, who's now out-aged him for the first time and seeing him for the first time in 60 years. There are these profound scenes full of pathos and heartbreak that are also really abstract.prevnext
On Larry's trauma
You touched a little bit about the kind of the concept of the season is all about trauma. I know from [previous professional experience] that even if you're helping to work others [through their trauma], you're working through your own trauma, as well, especially with people close to you. That can be a lot to take on, even if it's a fictional character. How do you approach playing Larry at this point in his story, considering that he is so in his trauma and everyone in that character world is working on trauma? How do you approach that?
I mean, look, the show explores so many relatable and real issues like abuse, PTSD, body image, mental illness, LGBTQ+ acceptance. It's just all done through the lens of superheroes. You know? In terms of Larry, like I mentioned, it's not like coming out suddenly healed every wound he had, you know? Now, he has to, he's figured out how to be a bit more in touch with himself. And now he's trying to connect with the people who he loved and lost over the years because of decisions that he made.
And also, stay connected to the people around him and deal with all the incidents popping up around and that at times take precedence. Particularly. The ones that sort of spring from Dorothy. There are times when they are called to action circumstantially and have to put your own issues on the back burner.prevnext
Larry and Dorothy
Absolutely, and speaking of Dorothy, something that I kind of noticed is that Dorothy and Larry are actually quite similar in a lot of ways. They both experienced being caged for lack of better term Dorothy quite literally, for who they are. And they're both troubled by demons. Dorothy's again are kind of quite literal. But Larry's is more emotional. How do you think Larry relates to Dorothy?
Well, I think with all the characters, they're finding that as, and we have a lot of great villains in this season. We have Jack and Dr. Tyme, obviously they're demons that Dorothy is dealing with that are profoundly scary. But all the characters are realizing that as many external villains that they're dealing with, they have just as many internal ones.
And I think that I wish honestly, that Larry had more scenes with Dorothy over the course of the season. I think there's a part of him that wants to counsel and help her in a way that he was never able to help his own kids. But he's also reticent to connect with her because, obviously, he's a little gun shy because of the fallout that's happened with his own children.
It's all painful and sticky and hard. And also, I'm just sounding weird. But I guess that's apropos for the show, but also done with a sense of humor around it all. I think it's what's amazing about the show is that you're able to dig into all of these characters' pain, but at the same time, there are circumstances that happen and the way they deal with it that just have you laughing along the way.prevnext
Rita and Larry's friendship
And speaking of some of the more beautiful and funny, and also like does deeply heartfelt, but not necessarily in the sad, weird, sticky way. Larry and Rita's friendship.
I love it.
It is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things, not only on the show, but just in the television space.
Yeah. I mean, it's, so it transcends generations. It transcends... It's obviously the closest relationship that Larry has. Rita has known who Larry was long before he came out to her and was able to love and accept him. And she comes from a generation of women. I remember speaking with my grandmother before I had come out and she would talk about people as bachelors.
It was this group of women who loved and accepted these men or women for who they were, but didn't have to talk openly about it, were just there for them. And I think the fact that Larry has now come out to her has only deepened their relationship. And they have an understanding of each other that goes deeper than any of the other people that Larry interacts with on the show.
And I think what's really beautiful about that is that Rita is so accepting of him when she's not so accepting of herself.
Yeah. And vice versa, you know? There really is a profound, unconditional love that she gives to Larry. And I think he, back to her and understanding that doesn't have to be talked about openly, that there's just a space and a love given around each other's issues. Absolutely.prevnext
Now, one of the things that has been really important about the show, like, and you mentioned a little bit earlier, is just kind of the way it presents people who are different in a television space in a way that is messy and complicated, like real life, but also very loving. And Larry in particular, your portrayal of Larry has been hugely moving and a hugely important thing for the queer community. Larry's moment last year with Danny the Street and the big musical number had me both exhilarated and in tears. It was beautiful.
We were filming that and I thought, "Oh, my gosh, we're doing a musical number to a Kelly Clarkson song on a stage with every aspect of the LGBTQ+ spectrum on stage together."
"On a superhero show, this is wild." And I think, we owe so much to Greg Berlanti and what he's done for LGBTQ+ representation in the superhero genre and giving, making sure the characters aren't just there as comic relief or as set dressing or as a stereotype that are given real dimension and substance and nuance. And the great thing about a role like this is that it's just about a man who is struggling with real demons and you should give the same respect to any role, but you have to go as deep as if you're playing Hamlet, you know?
It's not like, "Oh, I'm on a comic book show. I can just kind of come in and wing it and have fun." It's like, no, this is really profound, deep scene work that we could find on any prestige drama on television.prevnext
The impact on and of the fandom
And even on top of the representation for the queer community. Because again, like it's more of the, the shows one of the rare times when you can look at that and see every color of the rainbow is there. Like everything is in, everyone can find themselves represented and not in a way where it's like, "Oh, this is the gay character." Which, has happened far too often.
But you also are seeing, especially with Larry in sense. Again, with everybody, but focusing mostly on Larry, you're also dealing with somebody who's dealing with disfigurement and physical disability and that profound sense of loss, not just in like the aspect of his life, with the emotions and coming out and all that, but also in his actual losing of his body and of himself. And I know that that's had such an impact on the fandom because again, that's another segment of the population that doesn't see themselves represented. What has the impact of the show on the fandom been like for you personally?
Much like the comics, when it was on DC Universe, it was very much a niche show, so I'm so appreciative. It's maybe rarer than somebody who I meet, who watched White Collar or something, but it's, it means so much more to me when someone comes up and wants to talk about the show and their loved one. And oftentimes, it's people I would least expect to come up and want to talk about the Danny the Street episode. It's like some big butch dude, he wants to talk about how much they love the show and the character.
But it's really people all over the spectrum. And it means a lot to me, more than anything that a character who was a member of our community was treated with respect and consideration and whose characterization was given nuance and depth by the writers and not just, again, sort of breezed over.
But yeah, I hear what you're saying in terms of the disfigurement, as well. This is a guy who was the golden boy and image was so important to him. And if you go back to Velvet Rage or something, he's somebody who believed that if he could just become this ultimate golden boy, achieve, achieve, achieve, he'd never really have to deal with who he was.
And so much of that involves trying to be in control of everything around you. And now obviously, he's completely lost control of everything in his life.prevnext
What's next for Larry
What can you tease for us about what's next for Larry as we get deeper into season two?
Well, I can tell you that there is a relationship or not a relationship. There's someone he meets who impacts him profoundly both in terms of who he is and his relationship with the spirit. Not only in trying to communicate with it, but also to try to listen to what the spirit needs, as well, so it becomes much more of a symbiotic relationship. And I think that ultimately sets his compass for the rest of the season and going forward.prevnext
Teasing the villains
There are so many wacky villains, so many wacky villains. Do you have a favorite villain that you've encountered thus far?
Well, what I love about the show is that you really don't know what you're getting in a villain. Oftentimes, you have somebody like Red Jack who is just terrifying and horrific. And my goodness, it's almost like bordering on torture porn at times.
And then, you have, Dr. Tyme who you're laughing out loud at, it's hysterical. They really run the gamut and you don't know what to expect. I think Dorothy's demons are particularly interesting because they are such a mix of the internal and the external. In terms of what can just sheer entertainment value, there's a running gag with the sex ghosts this year that, I mean, just made me laugh until I cried every time I read it.
And I won't give too much away. It's something you should encounter on your own and have your own relationship with it. But to me, it was just one of the funniest things I'd ever read.
Oh, my gosh. I know I was dying when I saw, like I had this running list of characters and villains I would like to see in season two kind of thing. And so far, the show has been checking off all of the list so far, so I'm really excited. But then, I saw in the extended preview or the trailer for the season that we're actually getting the SeX Men and just, I lost it. I'm so I'm ready.
It's a runner. That is first of all, that was one of my favorite episodes, just because it was nice to have that much levity in the middle of all the pathos of the season that's about trauma. Not that there... There's humor in every episode, obviously, it's Doom Patrol, but there's a runner with them that just made me, I'm not an easy laugh out loud when I'm reading something and it made me laugh out loud every time I read it.prevnext
Oh, my gosh. Now, I'm excited to see how it plays out. Because this is one of the most bizarre team situations that you're like, "They're not going to go there. Oh crap. They're going there."
Oh, any place you think they're not going to go on this show, they're going to go there and they're going to go there 150%.
I'm just, I'm so blown away by the effects makeup and the production design that they're able to do this on an episode to episode basis in the way they are, it's baffling to me, that they're able to do this.
I'm like, "I could never do that." Just realistically, but they do it every time.
You know why? They all love the show and they love working on the show. It's a great group there in Atlanta. And they just, it's from the crew, from the PA who ho greets you in the morning to the people who you work with over the course of the day behind the scenes, in front of the camera, behind the camera, to the people who say goodnight to you, the teamster who drops you off at the end of the night. Everyone loves the show and loves working on it. You feel that.
I remember some of the scenes... I remember there were so much love scenes with John. And I was like, "Oh, my God, we're like in the middle of rural Georgia right now, is this safe?" And the crew was just so lovely and supportive and like, and loved the relationship. It was these like straight Southern dudes who were like, "I love that scene, man."
You know, like just and it was just so sweet and life affirming to feel that kind of support, especially as somebody who grew up in the rural South, you know?
It gives me so much hope. And I feel like that gives a lot of people a lot of hope, too.
We need it now more than ever.
New episodes of Doom Patrol land Thursdays on both DC Universe and HBO Max.
Note: this interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.prev