Monte Carlo TV Fest: Matt Bomer Touts, ‘The Last Tycoon’ And Talks How The Current Political Climate Means Artists Must Speak Out

Matt-bomer

The Last Tycoon got its first big screen unspooling with a world premiere at the Monte Carlo TV Festival Sunday night with stars Matt Bomer and Kelsey Grammer on hand to show off the sprawling, ambitious period piece from Amazon.

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The one-hour pilot introduces myriad characters and storylines, which is not indicative of the general pace of the show’s 10 episodes, Bomer said.  “It is by no means an indication of all that we’re doing with this show. It really is a slow burn,” he said.

 

Created by Hunger Games and Captain Phillips writer Billy Ray, the show is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel of the same name. Fitzgerald’s work (itself said to be inspired by the life of Irving Thalberg) serves as a guidebook to the tumultuous Hollywood of 1937 as the series is planned to run for five seasons.

Self-reflective, the crux of the show is the continuous battle between art and commerce in Hollywood. Grammer plays an aging studio head out to make a buck and Bomer his more artistically minded protégé.

 

Set in the midst of the Great Depression, the show deals with big themes still relevant today, depicting inequality in the form of a camp of Dust Bowl refugees set up next to the fictional Brady American Studios that rankles Grammer’s one-percenter since he wants to build a new set there.

 

As it goes on, it also touches on the racism, sexism and classism of the time, said Bomer. “It was wild to me that we were doing this piece set in 1937 that felt more and more prescient,” he said. “After the election a lot was changing in our country and around the world, and we were able to provide some commentary within a period piece.”

 

The pilot was shot over a year before the rest of the series, and in between saw the election of Donald Trump. “After the election, it changed every artist,” Bomer said. “I feel like artists really shine when politics are at their most high stakes, dire. I think we all felt a profound responsibility to tell stories that really mattered and have something to say, to hold a mirror up to society.”

 

 

Grammer’s studio head character is pit against Bomer’s young creator in a father-son, love-hate dynamic. Grammer says the mogul discovers his softer side throughout the show. “He’s not like most people in Hollywood,” he joked. “He comes across as really, really tough but he’s full of emotion and conflict and kindness, instead of the people that pretend to be kind but are really assholes.”

Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  Amazon Studios; AP
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