Earlier this week, Gabriel Macht the star of USA Network (Thursdays, 10/9C), took some time to talk with a group of journalists bloggers about the success of the show and what challenges lie ahead for show’s characters as well as reflecting on best friends and superheroes.
Hi, Gabriel. Thanks so much for doing the call today.
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Oh no – I still when I think of you I still think of The Others. I still miss that show.
Macht: That’s so funny. One of the writers, the new writers on the writing staff for Suits was a writer on The Others. It was great to be working together again.
Yes, interesting to know.
So can you talk about how Hardman’s return is kind of going to affect the whole dynamic of everybody at the firm?
Macht: Yes have you seen – has everybody seen this first episode of it?
I have. I don’t know if everybody has, but I have.
Macht: Okay so yes you know so Daniel Hardman who is the other half of Pearson/Hardman. You know Jessica Pearson has been running the show for a while now. We – Jessica and Harvey pushed Daniel Hardman out of the firm based on some wrongdoings that he did with some clients.
And you’re going to learn a little bit more about Harvey’s value system and there’s another reason in there why he’s not so fond of Hardman. But now being that Hardman is back in the fold and has regained some of his power as far as being number two in the firm you know there’s the potential of him – there’s a real threat to both Jessica and Harvey.
There’s payback and it really does question the dynamics of the partners and of all the characters involved. And I think you know at a certain point Hardman starts to see who line up on the Pearson side and how he can sort of sway them to the Hardman side. And you know there’s a bunch of episodes where we’re dealing with this fact of loyalty and power.
Okay. And also with everything that happened obviously with Harvey did to Jessica and she found out and everything and that he you know threatened to leave and everything. Is that going to cause a lot of tension or is she going to get over it pretty quick? Or can you talk about that at all?
Macht: She holds onto it for a little while. She’s you know there’s no doubt she’s disappointed in Harvey and you know there’s some trust issues that are in question and you know they come – they butt heads in the first few episodes. I think Harvey’s charm and allegiance ultimately wins but there’s definitely a change in the way that they deal with each other and how they are going to get out of this mess.
What exactly would you say is the dynamic between Harvey and Jessica that makes the relationship unique?
Macht: 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 just you know efficient in his dealings and you know a bright young kid.
He didn’t have all the tools but you know she helped him go through law school and she put him in the mail – I think she met him in the mail room, whatever. And sort of guided him along the way and you know built him up to become a partner. I think in ways to make you know him her you know right hand man and I think she sees a lot of herself in him.
And I think you know like I said before that mirrors the relationship between Harvey and Mike. So when she sees why he’s hired Mike and all the difficulties that comes with I think she trusts Harvey in that this kids going to make through on his promise of being as legitimate a lawyer as he can.
Now given that the conceit of the show is this idea that Mike is someone who definitely has a great knowledge of the law and everything like that but has essentially lied to get his foot in the door. Would you say there’s been a time in your career as an actor where you may have been less than truthful with people you were looking to have hire you?
Macht: Yes I think there was an audition I had for like to be a hockey player and I was like yes I can skate and I couldn’t skate for the life of me. And then actually when the tryouts came out I just didn’t get enough time to like go to the ice rink and learn how to skate backwards and I just bailed on the audition.
I just succumbed to. I wasn’t like Mike in the sense that I showed up and I you know and I you know made it look like I knew what I was doing. I basically didn’t show up.
Okay, does that haircut really cost five bills?
Macht: As far as the writers go yes it does. I was once told though you know if a man cuts his own hair he’s an – it marks personality of an insane person. And little does anyone know I think Harvey cuts his own hair.
Now I know last time you and I talked we talked about you coming back to TV, I want to follow-up on that. How’s it been for you now that you have a season one under your belt? Is it easier? Are you a little more comfortable with the character?
Macht: Yes you know I think you know 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 as 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 to every week a little bit new – a little bit more information comes out about your back-story and who you are and how you know how he lives his life and or 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 and does it make it easier, I don’t know. I think it’s you know I think it’s become easy to put on my suit every day. I think I’ve got that down.
I don’t want to spoil too much but I just want to ask have there been any particular highlights from the second season so far for you? Things that you’ve particularly enjoyed working on?
Macht: Yes there’s some great stuff going on in this season. In a couple episodes there’s a terrific scene with Harvey and Louis. Louis is really feeling down on his luck and whereas we’ve seen Harvey really ride Louis and you know take the piss out of him more often than not. He comes to really tell him that he believes in him and there’s a really great scene in which we show – we talk about the history of them.
So I really enjoyed working with Rick on that. Problem is everybody now learns that I break easily and I get these laughing fits. So I did you know cry of laughter in that scene but they were able to cut around it.
There’s also Margo Martindale has guested on the show and that was another laughing fit I had.
She plays one of the heads of the nurses association and there’s a scene where I try to negotiate with her to settle. And in her off-camera take of my close up she went behind the camera and said her line which is "the nurses strike at midnight" but the way she pulled it off sounded like you know a vampire on True Blood – "the nurses strike at midnight" you know. And she like threw her fangs out.
Just had me in tears. That was you know behind the scenes fun and you know hopefully the scenes work.
So I want to ask something that is kind of (unintelligible) but even as I’ve read casting you I can’t help it. So it seems like between casting call and actual casting things change quite a bit for the character (unintelligible). So (Unintelligible) is joining and she is playing (unintelligible).
And I know that she plays this (unintelligible). And can we say without giving too much away that the questioning between her and Harvey could get kind of personal? And not only because she (unintelligible) against Donna and vice versa.
Macht: Yes it does get a little personal but only in their business – in the way they’ve done business and their history of business.
They – Harvey doesn’t like this woman. He doesn’t want her to represent the firm. He doesn’t trust Hardman and feels like she’s ready to you know hang Harvey out to dry. Harvey again is all about winning and he sees that she’s lost three cases and why would he want this woman to be represented you know be representing him?
Yes so it’s more professional – she is a favorite of Daniel Hardman, right? So could Harvey use her as a pawn in this power war between him and Jessica on the one side and Danielle on the other?
Macht: No Harvey doesn’t – yes Hardman uses her. I don’t use her as a pawn no. I wish she just… I wish she took off. I don’t like her. I wish you know we didn’t have any – didn’t have to do any business with her.
That’s the brash sort of instinctive Harvey. He comes to learn that like you know maybe he was wrong, maybe she should be used, but maybe not. You know maybe there’s somebody else better out there.
Also last question I notice from the premier especially that Harvey is sort of changing his ways sometimes because trying to protect Mike and trying to you know save him from Jessica in this case because Jessica is very angry about all that went on.
Can we say that Harvey is taking something from Mike this season? Changing a little bit because in the premier we see that he really goes above and beyond to protect Mike risking his own career something which we’ve never seen him do for someone before.
Macht: Yes I think in many ways last season you saw Harvey standing up for the people he believes in behind their back. And I think in this season he reveals a little bit more of himself and he stands up for them in front of them.
As far as the premiere and how we’re quick to you know try and save Mike’s job first of all he wanted to keep that secret a secret. And he also believes that if there’s inner turmoil going on at the firm under Jessica’s leadership that’s going to pose a real vulnerability to Hardman’s return.
And so I think you know he figures out a very sort of intelligent way to keep both Mike and himself over there at Pearson/Hardman.
Will you be live tweeting during the show these days?
Macht: You know what I’m going to try and do it one of these days. The problem is you know I’m – we’re shooting in Toronto and I’m usually shooting when the show is airing. But I’m hoping to tweet you know carve out an hour where I can take you know some fans questions and stuff.
And yes – no, you know I’d like to do a live tweet of the show. I’ve just got to find the right pocket you know where I know what’s happening during the scene.
And 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?
Macht: A little bit yes I mean a little bit.
I don’t know if you know you know 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 – kind of hilarious.
And then I found a house for Sarah and I actually lived together the whole last season. We go back 20 years and our daughters are best friends and we lived in the same house. So we spent a lot of time off set.
This year we’ve had a few gathering with the whole cast on our Sundays. We had Easter all together, we had some cast dinners, we’ve gotten all the families together. It’s been really nice. Looks it’s a great ensemble and we happen to like each other onset and off.
Well he’d like to know if you feel threatened by his rugged good looks, nuisance sense of style and biting razor wit.
Macht: Who wants to know that? Patrick?
Macht: Oh my God, the guy is the most handsome co-star I have ever worked with. He is way more handsome than Colin Farrell, he is way more – no 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 you know night time cream on my face so I can just look for youthful. I mean it’s hard; he’s hard to compete with.
What do you think it is about Suits that really is going to connect with viewers this season?
Macht: I think as far as last season you know the show is real procedure – had a real strong procedure element. And you know with the open of sub cases every week.
This season USA has actually encouraged the writing staff to go a little bit more serialized. That we’re going to have story lines that goes over you know 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 char – what the main characters are all going through. I think it’s just going to be in just a little bit deeper way.
And so I mean 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. Somebody they know or somebody they feel is like them.
You know let’s not forget this is a heightened law show. Harvey and Mike you know there’s a bit of a Batman and Robin in there you know. They’re sort of superheroes. I mean these cases don’t close within 20 minutes.
But I think people you know that either people want to be them or they want to sort of – or they relate to them in so many ways that you know it makes it relatable.
Now the premiere was fantastic and it really sets us up for a compelling season two. So what can you tell us about season two and what we have to look forward to?
Macht: 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 you’ll learn how Jessica Pearson sort of got the reigns of the firm and has all of the control.
And I think – gosh somebody’s trying to call me, sorry.
So many people want to know how she got that control and how we’re going to continue to navigate that power in the firm. And you know we’re going to see where people’s allegiances are and how they settle you know.
Is Louis going to – okay somebody’s calling me. It sounds – this could be like an emergency so I’m going to – I have to put you on hold I’m sorry.
Macht: Are you still there?
Yes I am.
Macht: Okay so basically you know the questions of loyalty are really – are brought up and the struggles for control of the firm. And I think that’s what’s going to happen. I think there’s some great relationships going on with Harvey and Donna. You’re going to see how Louis makes some colossal mistakes soon. And you’re going to see how Harvey gets out of the mess that he’s in.
What are your top three favorite records in Harvey’s collection? And do you collect anything?
Macht: You know I can’t answer that because gosh I have no idea what I’m allowed to say. His collection is his collection and only Harvey knows.
Do you collect anything in person?
Macht: Music? Or any collectibles? Is that what you’re asking?
Macht: Jackets, I like jackets. I collect jackets and I tend to not want to throw them away when I have to.
In Austin about two weeks ago David Bartis said that there’s a flashback episode and you get to see more of Harvey and Donna and I think he mentioned the can opener. Can you talk and share anything about that episode?
Macht: I can’t because I haven’t read it.
Macht: All I know is that I’m on a train – so Harvey’s on a train and he’s going back through stuff that’s happened five years ago. I think there is an element to Daniel Hardman and him being at the firm at that point and how Jessica and Harvey got him out. They basically blackmailed him in some way to get him out of the firm.
Oh, that’s right. And Dave Bartis also said that you get to learn a lot more about Harvey this season. Can you share anything? I mean you definitely get to see more of how he feels about Mike. Especially in the first three episodes with him protecting him. You get to see his apartment that Mike bursts into. Can you share anything else about Harvey?
Macht: 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 who he had a relationship 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.
Sounds good and I have to say that scene with Harvey and Louis that you mentioned earlier was fantastic. It was one of my favorite ones so far.
Macht: Oh wait a second, did you already see it?
There are – I found out on the press site after I watched the premier that they have the first three episodes on there. So last night I watched all three.
And I think it’s in either the second or third.
Macht: What’s that?
I think online on the USA press site they had the first three episodes on there. And so I don’t remember if the scene with Louis was in the second one or the third one when you were talking about the associates.
Macht: Yes, did you like that scene?
I loved that scene.
Macht: Oh great.
You talked about them being Batman and Robin – I was going to ask you this leads well into my question. Do you think of them as more prodigy or as sort of father-son or big brother-little brother? What would you say?
Macht: You know what I’d say all above – all the above.
Macht: I think there are times when they’re you know 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 you know he’s sort of like you know the older fraternity brother.
I think there’s you know there’s a scene where in episode 206 I think it’s coming up – Harvey shows up at Mike’s apartment and there’s a scene where 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 just it’s more than just mentor-mentee. And I think you know what they’re – their personalities rub off each – on each other which is great because they’re able to learn from each other that way.
Yes right that’s I think is the most surprising thing about the show is that Harvey thinks he’s teaching Mike everything but then Mike is able to sort of teach him things too about being more human and everything.
Macht: Absolutely. I don’t think he’d admit it straight away but I think he keeps him around because of it.
Yes and I was going to ask you a totally shallow question but I was looking at pictures of you online to prepare for the interview and you look very different as Harvey and I was wondering is Harvey’s look – did you have any input into that? Or is that just totally hair, makeup, costuming?
Macht: No I totally you know whenever I get a character – whenever I get the job to do anything I always try my best to have a say in what the character looks like and how he presents himself and there’s a huge collaboration that goes along with that.
With the wardrobe I had a lot of discussions you know there’s you know some stipulations on how you know USA wants it and some you know guidelines on how the writer sees the character. And then you know we collaborate and try to figure out a happy median for all of us.
But you know I’m basically trying to take that script and expand on the writers and the director’s vision and the designer’s vision in all aspects. You know I try and talk with the wardrobe designer, I try and talk with the hair and makeup and say you know I think it should be like this or that.
And you know this year I was able to talk to set designer and have a little bit more say in where and how Harvey lives like his own space. So I think you know that’s a real benefit to being an actor and someone that they’ve been able to collaborate with me you know.
Alright and I just had one last thing.
Macht: That’s not a shallow question by the way.
Well I wanted to ask you how your dad is doing because I just found out that you’re Stephen Macht’s son and I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time.
Macht: Now that’s a shallow question. I’m just kidding.
He’s doing great. He is – he’s doing great. There’s nothing other than he’s doing terrific.
Okay yes I first saw him – oh.
Macht: He’s got eight grandchildren and he loves… What’s that?
Oh I first saw him years ago when I was in college when he played (unintelligible)’s boyfriend on (unintelligible) and I thought he was so cute. And then since I’ve grown older I’ve followed his career. So I was like oh he’s his son, wow. You knowÉ
Macht: Yep, yep no he’s doing really, really well. And we’re hoping to find something for him on the show.
Oh that would be wonderful.
And I was – tell him he did a great job in General Hospital because he was just an amazing villain on that show.
Macht: He was. He was such a badass on that wasn’t he? My gosh – he loved doing it too. He had the time of his life he just loved it.
He’s such a good evil person you know like character.
He should go up against Louis. I could see the two of them going up against each other. Louis would lose but…
Macht: Totally I would love to see him come in and play a real badass lawyer or a judge. He – maybe a judge that just hated all of the character at Pearson/Hardman.
A lot of the cast and crew now are using Instagram and seem to be really into taking photographs. Are you (unintelligible) and what’s it like on set? Is everyone just kind of walking about taking photos of each other while they’re acting and working?
Macht: Yes you know sort of new news to me I think. I’m completely familiar with Instagram other than it being what it’s kind of like its own version of Tumblr is that it? Without any writings or poetry or log in?
Macht: Yes – no, you know like you know I’m fine with it. You know if people want to take photos of their experience I’m fine with it you know. Sometimes I’d like them to you know pass it along to me and say hey you cool with me posting this?
But you know with technology being so present in everybody’s live it’s just at their fingertips it’s hard to be on top of everyone. So I really don’t want to be too you know too conservative about it all.
Yes and final question because I don’t want to take too much time from everyone else but this Summer’s kind of all the films about superhero’s and things like that. And Harvey himself is kind of – is also a comic book character. What would you say Harvey’s character to be other than Batman – what would you personally want to be? And who do you think Harvey would be?
Macht: Well I played a superhero a few years ago and – called The Spirit and to this day…
Yes I remember seeing it. It was a good film.
Macht: Oh thanks. I think he rivals any of the Avengers out there. I think he – I think The Spirit’s the man and honestly you know I think Batman you know a lot of the comic books superhero’s drive from The Spirit. Because Spirit was from the beginning.
I think Harvey you know there’s tons of references already in the show about Harvey being Batman and you know he looks as if Mike as sort of his Robin I guess.
You know it’s really interesting if you see – if you watch some of the USA promos there are – there’s one sequence where Harvey takes his jacket from the back of his chair and puts it on. And the way they cut it together in the promo and the sound effect that they’ve added it’s like he’s putting on his cape. I mean it’s so clearly a reference to him being sort of a super lawyer. So I think it’s hilarious.
And you know this show as true and as honest that we take to all the material there’s no doubt that it’s heightened and it’s heightened law. And so in that way it makes it very playful to think of Harvey as sort of a super lawyer.
Well if you can try to (unintelligible) on the back of your suit and we’ll try to watch out for it for super episodes like it’s your cape which I think would be quite funny to see.
Macht: To see a cape on him?
Yes. Just have the letter H like Superman but on the back of your suit for Harvey and that could be your superhero on Suits.
Macht: Oh right, that’s funny yes that’s hilarious. Yes we’ll try and fit that in.
I think I might have to ask you about all the movie references in the show. Do you have a favorite?
Macht: Have a favorite? No I don’t know what – it’s a complicated question for me because you know what I learned early on – I’m one of four children and you know my family, my siblings found it really hard that I was my parent’s favorite. And I try not to do that with anybody else so I don’t pick favorites.
Okay I like that answer.
Can I ask you about Donna? Because we love you and Donna. We love your dynamic; we love your scenes together. We’re just wondering what it’s like to work with Sarah Rafferty and what’s coming up with their relationship? Anything you can share?
Macht: Well I don’t know if you know this but Donna – Sarah Rafferty and I go back almost 20 years. We are really, really, really close friends.
Oh. That’s great.
Macht: Our daughters – yes our daughters are best 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 you know I got to tell her what to do and what not to do, all this stuff. So half of the time that you’re watching us you know 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 you know kind of 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 you know what they keep private or not. And how to move forward with some of the conflict that they – that has arisen.
Okay, great. Thank you so much.
Suits photos by Robert Ascroft and Christos Kalodoridis/Courtesy of USA Network