On September 8th, SUITS airs its first season finale, entitled “Dogfight” which will feature a special guest appearance by Chi McBride. To talk about the events of this spectacular first season and the increasingly labyrinthine journey of Harvey Spector, star GABRIEL: Macht took a few minutes to chat in a recent conference call with press.
What do you think it is about the show that’s caught on to so many viewers?
GABRIEL:: I guess there’s a bunch of reasons. First off, Aaron Korsh, who’s the writer and creator of the show, has such a clear vision of what he wanted to put out there. He, in collaboration with the executives at USA is finding the rhythm, which has really been pretty efficient in their creativity and in their collaboration. They have found a show that’s procedural, that has some great witty banter, and the relationships between the characters seem to be more prevalent than the actual plot – and they mirror each other in many ways. So for the people who really want to try and solve the mystery of the week, they’re also so ingrained in the characters’ relationships to each other and how that mystery of the week is also sort of showing how these characters deal with each other. I hope that’s clear the way I put it. But there’s also just this ensemble of actors that are so unique from each other and I feel like we all work so well together. We all really like each other off-screen and so it makes it a lot of fun — to make fun of each other and relate to each other in different ways. I just think the chemistry has really found its rhythm with everyone and on top of that, the writing has just been really solid and we’ve had some great directors. I don’t know. Maybe people are interested in seeing what good-looking suits look like — and strong women. All of our female characters are really, really strong and, in many cases, stronger than some of the men. So that’s also really solid to watch that. I think those are a few reasons why the show’s doing well . . . It’s a miracle whenever a bunch of people come to collaborate and people really actually enjoy watching . . . In my 20 years of working in this business, there are so many people that are working in this business collaborating with each other and trying to find something worthwhile to either say whatever story they’re trying to tell to make it just entertaining. It’s a miracle when something comes out and people really enjoy watching it week to week or seeing that story for two-and-a-half hours on film. It’s a miracle. It’s almost like a baby it’s like it came out fully formed and there’s enough to consider while watching, you know what I mean? So much of stuff that I see out there is not that and this is the first time where I’ve been involved with something that sort of is that — so I’m really proud of that.
So this is your first TV series regular role in quite some time. What’s it been like for you personally to come back to TV and to dig into this character?
GABRIEL:: You know what? It’s really great. I had not wanted to do television for many, many years, even before I did my last series. I the last series I did was called THE OTHERS that lasted 13 episodes on NBC and Steven Spielberg produced it. I did a cold reading on sort of a Steven Spielberg’s producing it, thinking, ‘I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just go in there and just show them my face.’ And then I ended-up getting the job. I didn’t really even want the job because I was doing a play at the time in New York City and I didn’t want to leave the play. But I don’t know. That’s a long story. But I ended-up leaving the show and two days later working on this series — and I mean, it was a huge opportunity for me. I really liked the writing of that show and when they knew they weren’t going to pick it up, they ended-up killing every one of the main characters which I thought was just a really classic way to end the show. Then I got a film and then another film and another film, and I just started working in film. I’ve always really liked the idea of changing a character from movie to move and trying to stretch as an artist and see where that can take me and that I had a pretty good run of it for 10 years and then I just started to find that like I was getting some really great opportunities, but not like the best opportunities and I thought, ‘You know what? There’s some terrific writing in television and why not go back in and see if there’s something where I can challenge myself and play a character that I haven’t played before.’ And this came along and Harvey is just a great character. He is defective, but he’s got a real heart underneath — and the banter, I love the wit that Aaron has brought into the writing. And I thought, ‘You know what? This could be really challenging and see how this goes. Why don’t I look at this as an opportunity to really get really, really deep into a character.’ I mean, I haven’t gotten I don’t think as deep into a character in a long, long time and the idea to do it over and over and have a break and maybe go do a movie and step away from him – from Harvey – and play somebody else and then come back to him and get another shot at it, I thought, ‘You know what? This could be really cool.’ And it’s turned out to be that. I admire Harvey. I like to see his weaknesses as we delve further into him and his back story and as we move along to Season 2. I hope that we can even crack the armor more. I had a really interesting conversation with Aaron Korsh a month ago. We were talking about characters in television as opposed to characters in film and I’ve always approached a character in film where the person starts out at in let’s say Place A and goes through B-C-D and finishes at E or whatever for lack of better letters. The change happens over a two-and-a-half-hour period in a film you got to see the character change and you have to see the arc of that character and some of the traps that I was coming into as far as working with as Harvey on this show was I was starting to make the character arc a little bit too soon in some of my performance here and there. And it was really interesting to see that like Aaron sort of opened this idea to me that like characters and television really move very slowly. They don’t move as fast as television because here we are with 12 hours, I guess of television or 13 hours as far as the 13 episodes, but they move slowly. They grow slower in many ways and I thought, ‘Oh, that didn’t stink.’ So maybe Year 3, he’ll start really changing or he’ll start learning more about himself in a way that he didn’t in Year 1 so I’m interested to see how that works over the next few seasons if USA Network is nice enough to let us continue, if we’re all sort of doing good work, and the writing still says solid and people are still responding to us so that’s I guess that’s where I’m at with that.
Can you tell us what we can expect for the upcoming finale and whether or not there’s going to be a cliffhanger for next season?
GABRIEL:: Yes, so next so we’re going to learn a little bit more about Harvey’s past. . . So we’re going to learn a little bit more about Harvey’s past. We’re going to learn where he came from. . .There is going to be just a little bit more that’s known about his past, that he worked in the District Attorney’s office early on and that he had a real mentor who buried evidence.
It would be a great way of showing a possibly different side to Harvey, as in showing Harvey before he was Harvey. Do you think that may happen?
GABRIEL:: I don’t know if that will happen. I do know that in this next episode you’re going to see a few encounters with Harvey and Jessica. I think the story goes, Jessica sort of saw Harvey as in many ways like Harvey sees Mike, and he had some street smarts and he was really, really bright but he didn’t completely get it. So she helped him. She put him through law school and she also put him with the District Attorney to get him trial experience and she put him with this character – Gary Cole’s character – so that he could learn the ropes. Now I think Harvey, at times, was a bit misinformed on the reasons that Jessica put him there and you’ll see how that sort of reveals itself. I don’t know if we’ll see flashbacks, but you’ll see reasons why she put him there and how that relates to the story now. And you’ll see a little bit of kind of who Harvey was in essence early on in some of the telling of those scenes with Gary Cole. I don’t know if there’ll be any flashbacks, but you’ll see that Harvey was involved with a case that evidence was buried and he feels absolutely guilty about it and he has to right that wrong so there you go.
Are we going to see Harvey show any emotion as the series goes on?
GABRIEL:: Good question. I think so. There is as he likes to say — I think the line was something he doesn’t like having emotions, but he’s not about to stop using them when he needs to. I think the bottom line is this: I think Harvey is actually a really emotional guy. I think he’s been hurt and I think he’s been broken and I think the way that he covers for that is he’s created this incredible armor — and just as he stands up for people behind their back, if you look around, he’ll stand up for Mike, but behind his back. He’ll stand up for Louis, even though Louis drives him crazy. He’ll stand up for him behind his back. His emotions sort of come out when somebody’s back is turned. I think that’s how he sort of operates. There was a moment that he gets emotional, but I think he sort of catches himself when he’s with Jessica. He really respects Jessica. He thinks that she’s had his back all along and she will continue to have his back and I think he is able to show his vulnerability with her. I think he just has a thing of like: trying to cover, trying to cover, trying to cover. I don’t know if we’ll see him as vulnerable as the audience or as you might want to see him, or as maybe I want to see him, but at some point we will.
How would you compare the atmosphere on the set, like comparing the season finale with when everyone was just getting together filming those very first episodes?
GABRIEL:: Let me think back to the finale. What were we doing? Yes, well, when we filmed the first episode, it was in New York. We had three weeks to shoot that one episode because it was a pilot. Everyone didn’t really know each other that well, but I feel like there was an instinctual belief in each other and support in each other. We all sort of admired each other and just there was a trust early on. I think we all trusted each other and it was sort of exciting. A lot of people felt different ways, I guess. Some complicated feelings of like, ‘oh, is this thing going to get picked up? Am I going to have a job in a few months or are we going to get a good run out of this? Is this such a great show? Are we going to get a good run?’ No one knew anything. I suspected that we would get picked up because I think it was really just solid television storytelling and then when we shot the finale. I think what was really cool about it was the ratings had been terrific and USA Network has been expressing their support and they’ve been championing our show for quite awhile now and like just word on the street or whatever. The word on set was, ‘Yes, we’re getting picked up and we’re going to go another season and everyone’s really excited.’ And in the final episode, Aaron Korsh was there filming — he’s the creator of the show — he was there and he got everyone on set to come around and he gave the news that the pickup was there and that we’d be going 16 episodes next season. Everyone was really excited. I saw people just looking around the room — and like what I was saying earlier about like this sort of being a little miracle, maybe it’s a big word, but because after all it’s a television show (not to demean it in any way) — but I’m just saying like people are really proud of it. People are really, really proud of it and from the grips to the DP to the to everyone on set, the actors and the designers, everyone was looking around going, ‘You know what? We have all really formed like this incredible ensemble that reaches out beyond the cast.’ We all sort of like working with each other and have found a great rhythm with each other and are excited to come back to work knowing that we have a really solid job that where there is collaboration and these guys that are sitting there for 14-16-hour days the camera guys, they really liked the writing of the show. They liked where the stories have gone. They liked where the characters have gone so they’re interested. They’re invested. So there’s a difference of being like, ‘Okay, let’s hope this show’s like we throw it up against the wall and hopefully it lands well,’ which is like a pilot. Shooting the finale which is like, ‘Hey, we’re all really proud of all the work that we’ve done these past 4-1/2 months!’ So that’s a solid feeling. That’s a good feeling that everyone had.
Harvey’s Tom Ford suits, the slicked-back hair, the jazz and blues records, all those things have become almost integral to this character. How much of that was written into the original script and has there been anything incorporated into Harvey’s character that was sort of based on your own interpretation?
GABRIEL:: A lot of it. The whole thing about Harvey has been a real collaboration between the designer. The original costume designed, the writer Aaron Korsh and the director of the first and last episodes Kevin Bray and myself. We all sort of created this guy together and I’ve sort of taken a little bit of their vision and expanded in as many ways as I can. We saw Harvey as a real sort of a man’s man who sort of is a throwback to a cross between like a Cary Grant meets like a Steve McQueen in the modern world. He’s tough as nails and got tons of testosterone-driven sort of drive and he’s classic in many ways in that he likes his suits fully tailored and well made. He likes to be put together. He’s about presentation and he cares about what he wears. I have this idea that he had met a woman who came into his life who knew about fashion and knew about design and that’s the one who got away and she taught him all about that and he took on this sort of like thing and he felt that that would work in this in his line of work in closing deals, in being trusted. He’s sort of that modern guy of all of that sort of classic all things stylish thing if that makes any sense. The slicked-back hair was my idea. I wanted to sort of do that sort of men’s haircut Cary Grant thing and then slowly but surely I started to see that that was a bit severe for the character and I wanted to soften him up just a tad because I thought he was coming out too harsh. And so I don’t know if one realizes in sort of the second half of this season we’ve taken his hair and sort of created the same effect, but without it being so slicked-back. I think it still tells the basic same story of who he is. Aaron knows all about the jazz element to him and he said he’s a music aficionado and that’s created something really cool about him gives him sort of he gets into the arts and stuff. It’s been a collaboration, but it’s also been my feeling of like this also makes a really strong character to put him in these like great suits and he’s a little flashy. But it’s sort of contained in a way sort of like that Wall Street power that crosses into that sort of metrosexual, if that’s the right word for it — but a modern New York guy.
Your character likes to dress smart and has a very big thing for the ladies, which is very similar to a British secret agent. Now would you ever consider playing James Bond especially with you having the kind of Sean Connery Bond look?
GABRIEL:: Hey, of course. I mean, has there been an American Bond? I just don’t know. I don’t think there has been but as far as like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, I think I’ve gotten there in some ways I worked with Daniel Craig on a BBC movie a few years ago. Great guy, I think he’s done a terrific job as Bond and I also worked with Timothy Dalton many years ago. So that’s I guess as close to Bond as I could get there was an episode I think it was maybe two episodes ago where I was able to do a little bit of my Connery, but it was funny because I think it was a Roger Moore line that I grew out of the Connery thing. I don’t know what they used or not but it was kind of, it was funny to me nonetheless. But hey, if I ever got the opportunity to play James Bond, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Who would you love to see guest star on the show next season if you could pick somebody?
GABRIEL:: I’d love to see my wife guest star. I think that’d be fun. Yes, I mean, I’d love to see my wife play a character some strong woman who comes in and teaches Harvey a thing or two. There’s so many actors that I think would be great on this show. There’s always that question of who’s Hardman and who’s Pearson? Who is that Hardman guy? I’ve always had a little bit of a ‘wish list,’ but I don’t know. We’ve had some terrific actors this season and hopefully there’s a whole new group of actors that watch our show and see that there’s some good dramatic stuff on there that they’d be a part of it, but I don’t know.
How do guest stars Gary Cole and Alicia Coppola figure into Harvey’s murky past?
GABRIEL:: Gary Cole plays a district attorney from Manhattan and my relationship with him is that I was one of his assistants back in the day. I think, if I’m correct, Alicia was also one of the assistants back with me or she was someone a colleague that we ran into each other all the time and there’s some dirt that’s been picked-up on Gary Cole’s now and he comes back to me to sort of try and keep it behind closed doors. I don’t know how much I want to give away. I guess I can put it this way. He buried some evidence in regards to a certain character that you’ll meet at some point and I was unaware that he was burying evidence. And so he is up for his reelection and Alicia now plays someone who works for the Attorney General’s office and she’s trying to end his reelection and so he’s trying to get me to open up about him and basically Gary Cole’s character was my initial mentor. And so he’s sort of like Harvey’s Harvey, do you know what I mean? Like Harvey’s Mike, he’s Harvey’s Harvey and there’s a lot of respect and a lot of loss there when I found out that he wasn’t above boards. And so that relationship is sort of investigated and you’ll see how Harvey’s mentor sort of let him down. I don’t want to give too much away but I hope that answers the question.
Can you tell a little bit about your interactions with Chi McBride’s character and Harvey?
GABRIEL:: Yes, Chi comes in in the last episode. He is the interim district attorney because — not to give anything away — something happens to the present district attorney and Harvey wants to write a wrong that happened when Harvey was an assistant to the district attorney years before. And the only way he can right that wrong is to bring it up with Chi and get him to make a deal to clear this young fellow’s name. Chi’s character really plays it by the book and makes it really difficult to Harvey to accomplish his goal and so they come up against each other and Harvey’s sort of met his match again but he’s got to figure out how to sort of out-think him. So we had a great time. I loved working with Chi. He was really – he’s a solid, solid guy – a terrific, terrific actor and I think some of those scenes are really, really strong.
Why do you think Harvey has taken on Mike? I mean, we’ve seen what he’s done for Mike and what he’s willing to do, but why, what’s his motivation?
GABRIEL:: I think that in many ways Mike is a representation of what Harvey was when he was a kid. He got a real shot from Jessica to break out of the world that he was in and get a second chance and I think there’s a lot of second chances. I think there’s huge things to say about second chances and the compassion that someone has to give somebody another shot. And I think he sees that Mike got in over his head and made a few bad decisions, but is truly a good person at heart, and is extremely bright and deserves a second chance. I think that’s sort of what happened with Harvey early on. So when he sees this kid as being a younger him, he feels like this is one of the ways that he can give back. I like thinking of it like that and it creates even more compassion and that heart that a lot of people feel that Harvey lacked. I think that sorts of underlies his M.O. which gives him which gives him a little bit of his charm. It gives him a little bit of his sensitivity. It gives him his thinking outside the box for the greater good and all of that stuff. I think that says it — and not to mention he needs someone to do some of his dirty work and to do some of his work. Just that. He’s got more important things going on and he needs this kid. He needs an associate, so why not this guy? He’s tired of the Harvard graduates who come in and are like are basically all like versions of Louis. He wants somebody more like him.
The noose seems to be tightening around the elaborate con that Harvey and Mike have setup. Are we going to see their so-called house of cards fall apart or shall it continue beyond this season?
GABRIEL:: Well, I can’t give anything away. I will say that it’s a constant threat and I think Mike’s character is a little bit more uneasy with it than Harvey. I think Harvey feels like this kid is “too good to be true” even in all his mishaps. He messes up along the way. He’s not thinking clearly at times. But he is once again Harvey. I think Harvey’s ace in the hole and I think he’s willing to continue keeping the veil up as long as he can and if it drops and someone figures it out, I feel like Harvey is confident enough to work his way out of it.
To find out more about the one thing that may make or break Harvey’s career and to see the climatic season finale of SUITS, tune in on Thursday, September 8th at 10:00PM on USA Network. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).