Suits Set Report: Welcoming a New Show with Open Arms
Fun fact: did you know Suits was originally called A Legal Mind? I much prefer this new title. Not only is it short and sweet, but it encompasses so much of what the show is going to be about (figuratively, not literally, of course). Suits aims to look beyond the neatly pressed jacket and trousers and learn about the characters behind the suit.
Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) has lost his way in life. He was raised by his grandmother, who’s now sick in the hospital and relies on him to pay the medical bills. Truth is, Mike is a genius. He has a photographic memory and retains every small detail of whatever he’s read. But for whatever reason, this hasn’t led him to success. He’s desperate for a quick buck, so Mike takes up an offer from his friend to deliver pot and make an easy $25,000.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is one of the best closers in Manhattan. Sure, he’s cocky, arrogant and manipulates the client, but at least he gets the job done.
At the beginning of the pilot, you have to wonder: how in the world do Mike and Harvey’s paths cross?
All it takes is a drug deal gone wrong and Mike stumbling into an interview session being held by Harvey to land a job at the law firm. Harvey, impressed by Mike’s intelligence, brings him on board as his new associate at Pearson Hardman. The firm only hires grads from Harvard Law, but Harvey makes an exception for Mike – hiding the truth from everyone else at the law firm.
Suits is made up of a wonderful cast also including Gina Torres as Harvey’s boss, Jessica Pearson; Rick Hoffman as Harvey’s nemesis, Louis Litt; Sarah Rafferty as Harvey’s personal assistant, Donna; and Meghan Markle as the attractive paralegal Rachel Zane.
Having seen the pilot a few weeks before its premiere, I can tell you that the commercials do not do this show justice. It might seem like just another legal drama, but as executive producer Doug Liman told us during our set visit:
“Suits for me is about plucking this kid who’s really existing on the fringes of society and giving him a suit and a very high paying job and a beautiful office and all the trappings of having made it in NYC. That to me is the heart and soul of the show. I’m really about intelligence being a super power. His super power is that he’s just the smartest guy in the room.”
Like all of USA’s shows, the characters and their individual stories are at the forefront of the show; the legal cases only help move the plot forward.
“I think that [Suits] is in the guise of a legal drama, but it’s all about the relationships and how everyone’s dealing with each other,” said Macht.
A character as arrogant as Harvey Specter could be a real turn off for audiences, but Macht plays it so convincingly and with a bit of mystery that you want to keep watching and see what he’ll get up to next. It’s quite clear that there’s more to Harvey than meets the eye; though he claims not to care for people other than himself, the threads in his suit are coming undone.
“My character’s definitely layered and comes off as a real hard ass, real tough but I think underneath, he’s really fair,” said Macht. “And when he’s dealing in a case or when he’s dealing with Mike or he’s dealing with any of the other characters, he’s, I think, morally in line with what’s right. As the show goes on, you’re going to see more vulnerability out of him.”
Harvey’s secretary Donna won me over instantly in the pilot. She was funny and complimented Harvey perfectly, though don’t expect any romantic dealings between the two anytime soon. According to Rafferty, Donna knew Harvey “before he was Harvey,” and she’s essentially the female version of her boss.
“I was just drawn to her ‘cause she’s so comfortable in her own skin and so confident in her own position at the firm,” said Rafferty. “She’s smart, she’s confident, she has a big heart. I think she operates really from a place of compassion and empathy, I think she has that for Mike, though doesn’t necessarily want Mike to know that.”
During our tour of the Suits set, I noticed Donna’s desk had a flyer for the “Diva Dance Club.” It’s exactly where I can imagine Donna, the diva of the law firm, to spend her evenings!
All the sets for Suits were built identical to the law offices in New York used in the pilot. Harvey’s office is filled with shelves of records to play on his record player and a row of signed basketballs lines his windowsill. Clearly this is a lawyer who likes to have a good time! But his rival, Louis Litt, is a bit more serious with newspaper clippings of his achievements hanging around his office.
“Louis is like the douche of the firm,” joked Hoffman. “His suit is his shield, he covers himself for who he really is; he doesn’t want anyone to see who that person is. And who that person is, is actually much softer than he comes across, especially in the first couple of episodes.”
Stars Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle were tied up, but did stop by the press table very briefly to say “hello.” And just from those 30 seconds, you can see how sweet and passionate they are about what they do and I can only wish them – and the rest of the cast – all the success in the world for Suits.
Suits airs Thursday at 10 p.m. EST on USA.
Images courtesy of USA Network, Christos Kalohoridis, and Frank Ockenfels.