Q&A With Gabriel Macht of “Suits” 0

Gabriel Macht stars in “Suits” Thursday nights at 9pm on USA Network

A while ago there was a short article in “Entertainment Weekly,” in which the editors asked somebody important at USA Network what their advice was on how to make a successful show.  One of the things that they recommended was trying to make stars rather than hire them.  The USA rep used examples like Tony Shalloub in “Monk” and Jeffrey Donovan in “Burn Notice,” explaining that before landing leading roles on their respective shows, these two actors were just the right part away from making it big.  Now that “Monk” is off the air and “Burn Notice” is entering it’s sixth season, USA has found a new actor to make into a star with the hit show, “Suits.”

Like Shalloub and Donovan before him, Gabriel Macht already had the skills of a great actor before “Suits” came along—he just lacked the notoriety of one.  If somebody did recognize Macht, it was either for his leading role in “The Spirit” or as “that guy” in a handful of other films like “Love and Other Drugs” and “Behind Enemy Lines.”  But more often then not, he flew under the radar by sticking to supporting roles in films and occasionally in television.  However, after a successful first season of “Suits” and an excellent season two (so far), Gabriel Macht is destined to become more of a household name.  And if not his name, people should recognize his face by now—an advertising blitz before the premiere of the second season of “Suits” meant that Macht’s face was plastered everywhere, from the sides of busses to billboards to magazine covers and even patio umbrellas (spotted in NYC).

For fans of “Suits” it’s a joy to see Macht getting the attention he deserves, because he’s excellent as lawyer extraordinaire Harvey Specter.  Specter is slick, sarcastic and arrogant, yet there’s also a softer side that shows itself from time to time.  Macht brings Harvey to life and creates a dynamic character that is fascinating to watch in every episode.

When a person becomes attached to a character on a show, they often hope that the actor behind that role is worth rooting for. Gabriel Macht supporters can rest easy, because the actor is as humble, polite, and likable as one could hope for.  In a Q&A session that Blast was a part of, Gabriel was pleasant, entertaining, and eager to discuss “Suits.”  Though he never explicitly said so, it was obvious that he was very thankful for the opportunity to play Harvey Specter and that he genuinely appreciated and enjoyed speaking with the press about the show and what to expect in season two.

Here’s what Gabriel had to say:

Q:   How’s it been for you now that you have season one under your belt?  Are you a little more comfortable with the character?

A:  I think, like any character, the more you play him and the more you learn about him the deeper you can get into the nuts and bolts of the character.  And you know for me, being in film for most of my career, you only have three months to educate yourself about who this guy is and make the choices that you can. But you know it’s been a real great challenge in television [because] every week a little bit more information comes out about your backstory and who you are, how he lives his life, what has happened in his life to make him who he is and how he navigates through it in the present. And so I really enjoyed that experience.

Q:   Have there been any particular highlights from the second season so far for you? Things that you’ve particularly enjoyed working on?

A:   Yes there’s some great stuff going on in this season. There’s a terrific scene with Harvey and Louis. Louis is really feeling down on his luck, and we’ve seen Harvey really ride Louis and take the piss out of him more often than not.  [But] he comes to tell him that he believes in him. There’s a really great scene in which we talk about the history of them. So I really enjoyed working with Rick [Hoffman] on that.

Q:  You have such a great relationship with Patrick J. Adams and as well with the rest of the cast. Do you guys spend much time together offset?

A:   A little bit, yes. When I first moved to Toronto last year, when we started this season, I spent about two weeks actually living with the guy. He put me up in his old high school bedroom, it was kind of hilarious. And then I found a house for Sarah [Rafferty, who plays Donna] and I, and we actually lived together the whole last season. We go back 20 years and our daughters are best friends, so we lived in the same house. So we spent a lot of time [together] off set.

This year we’ve had a few gatherings with the whole cast. We had Easter together, we had some cast dinners, we’ve gotten all the families together. It’s been really nice. It’s a great ensemble and we happen to like each other on set and off.

Q:  What it’s like to work with Sarah Rafferty and what’s coming up with Donna’s relationship with Harvey? Anything you can share?

A:   We are really, really, really close friends. We’ve been to each other’s weddings—blah, blah, blah. Anyway, it is very hard to act with one of your best pals. But with that said, it’s a lot of fun.   We constantly say to each other, “don’t make me laugh, don’t make me laugh, stop, stop, don’t, stop.” It’s very hard.  I mean it’s kind of silly that I’m her boss and I get to tell her what to do and what not to do, all this stuff.

So half of the time that you’re watching us act, all we’re trying to do is not laugh or smile or make each other giggle.   So in that respect, it’s kind of funny and hilarious. Maybe just for us.

But as far as the relationship goes with Harvey and Donna—look, Harvey trusts her to no end.  He thinks she’s amazing, he loves how strong she is, he loves how quick-witted and hilarious she is. He does learn in a few episodes that she was sort of involved in something that kind of gets Harvey into big trouble and they come to knocking heads.

There’s a lot of conflict between Harvey and Donna this season and I really hope that they’re able to figure out how to manage their decision-making and what they keep private or not. And how to move forward with some of the conflict that has arisen.

Q:  Patrick would like to know if you feel threatened by his rugged good looks, sense of style and biting razor wit.

A:  Oh my God, the guy is the most handsome co-star I have ever worked with. He is way more rugged than Colin Farrell. He is way more intelligent than Owen Wilson. He is so much funnier than Chris Rock. Who else is there?

Am I threatened by him?  Totally. He keeps me up at night.  I don’t know what to do about it.  I’m working out every day. I’m like up to letter K in the encyclopedia so I can be as smart as the guy. Yes, I put nighttime cream on my face so I can just look more youthful. I mean it’s hard, he’s hard to compete with.

Q:  What do you think it is about “Suits” that really is going to connect with viewers this season?

A:   This season USA has actually encouraged the writing staff to go a little bit more serialized.  We’re going to have story lines that go over two, three, four episodes. And so, we’re going to find out even more about the characters whereas the cases each week will directly reflect once again what the main characters are all going through.

I think it’s just going to be a little bit deeper in a way.  I think that’s what people really responded to last year is how unique these characters are and how there’s so many different archetypes that people can latch onto. Somebody they know or somebody they feel is like them.  I think that either people want to be them or they want to relate to them.

Q:  What can you tell us about season two and what we have to look forward to?

A:  Well I think season two really has gotten off to a great start in that we’ve brought in a new character. David Costabile is playing the role of Daniel Hardman, and Jessica Pearson sort of got the reigns of the firm and has all of the control.

We’re going to see where people’s allegiances are and how they settle you know. The questions of loyalty are brought up. And I think there’s a great relationship going on with Harvey and Donna.  You’re going to see how Louis makes some colossal mistakes soon.

Q:  [Executive Producer] Dave Bartis said that you get to learn a lot more about Harvey this season.   Can you share anything specifically?

A:   You know, there’s little pieces along the way. There’s going to be some references to his mother, there’s going to be a reference to his father and I think his brother. You’re going to see him have a relationship with someone that didn’t work out years ago. He’s going to be accused of things that happened years ago. I think that’s all I can give you right now.

Q:  Do you think of Harvey and Mike as more mentor-prodigy or as sort of father-son or as big brother-little brother?

A:   You know what, I’d say all above. I think there are times when they’re mentor and prodigy and you know brother-brother, partners. I think there are times when Harvey really looks up to Mike and he learns from him. I think there’s times where he takes the piss out of him and he’s sort of like the older fraternity brother.

There’s a scene, in episode 206 I think, where Harvey shows up at Mike’s apartment and he says you know you really got to do something about your apartment. And that comes across like a father and son thing you know.

I think that’s what works so well about the dynamics of this—these two—the relationship of these two characters.  That it’s more than just mentor-mentee. And I think their personalities rub off on each other, which is great because they’re able to learn from each other that way.

Q:   What would you say is the dynamic between Harvey and Jessica that makes their relationship unique?

A:  Well I think in many ways their relationship is a reflection of Harvey and Mike’s relationship. I think she saw that Harvey had some great qualities as far as being a determined young man who was also a bit of a scrapper, and was able to talk his way out of situations and was a bright, young kid.  He didn’t have all the tools, but she helped him go through law school and sort of guided him along the way and built him up to become a partner.  And I think she sees a lot of herself in him.

And I think that mirrors the relationship between Harvey and Mike.  So when she sees why he’s hired Mike and all the difficulties that come with it, I think she trusts Harvey in that this kid’s going to make good on his promise of being as legitimate a lawyer as he can be.

Q:   Will you be live tweeting during the show these days?

A:  I’m going to try and do it one of these days. The problem is, we’re shooting in Toronto and I’m usually shooting when the show is airing. But I’m hoping to carve out an hour where I can take some fans’ questions and stuff.  I’d like to do a live tweet of the show. I’ve just got to find the right pocket where I know what’s happening during the scene.