With White Collar no longer on the air, Suits has taken over as my favorite TV show. On February 27, 2015 during a conference call, I spoke with Gabriel Macht, one of the stars of Suits.
In my review of “Intent,” episode 15 of season four, I noted Macht, Sarah Rafferty, and Rick Hoffman’s performances are some of the strongest of the season and how excited I was to talk to Macht about what makes his scenes with Rafferty so powerful. Macht was the consummate professional, providing illuminating responses to everyone’s questions.
It was fascinating to listen to Macht talk about directing his first episode and working with his father, Stephen Macht, who returned as Professor Henry Gerard.
Macht had a bad connection and his phone would often cut out for several seconds, which is reflected in some of his answers.
Tune in to the season finale of Suits, Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 10/9c, only on USA.
Here are my questions, followed by the remaining Q&A of the call.
Operator: And the next question comes from the line of Greg Staffa. Please go ahead.
Greg Staffa: Thanks for taking our calls today. Your performance between you and your costar Sarah Rafferty in “Intent” was some of the best I think of the series. Is the great chemistry as simple as chalking it up to your established 20-year friendship with each other that you have with Rafferty? What makes your scenes work so well?
Gabriel Macht: I think it’s a combination of, you know, a million things. I think that our relationship is definitely part of it. You know, we’ve had a ton of life that we’ve both been present for each other if that makes any sense.
You know, there’s been births and deaths and friendships that have failed and, you know, we’ve just been in the mix for twenty years. It’s a real friendship. And I think that really helps. In addition to that, I think, you know, again, it comes back to the writing.
I mean, I think Aaron has really written these two characters very specifically. And the way they interact with each other is just very entertaining, you know. They’re sort of two sides of a coin, you know?
And, you know, we have, you know, Sarah and I have a different process of how we work. And I think we’ve both been really supportive of each of our processes and how we can get each other to the best place. And, at the end of the day, we can make each other laugh.
And so that makes it a lot more free and open. So, I think we’re just really comfortable with each other, and it shows.
Greg Staffa: As an actor, is this all business to you? Do you have like your own little bucket list of guest stars that you would like to see happen in, next season? Do you get star struck still? What is your process when dealing with stars? Do you get a little excited like us fans get excited? Or is it just strictly business?
Gabriel Macht: Yeah. There’s a little bit of – I – yeah sure I get star struck. I mean there are times where I’m, you know, a massive, massive fan of that person. And, you know, I – you know, the way I deal with it is I’m star struck.
And then I know that that person is just a working actor just like me, just like all the other people that are on my set. Just like the people I grew up with, you know, that were pals with Dad that used to stop by my house, you know?
I (unintelligible) because when I’ve done that before it’s just gotten me in trouble. And so I really try just to sort of imagine that I’m on the same level as they are, and we’re just – we’re scene partners, you know?
And, you know, the biggest stars that I’ve ever worked with, I think that’s how they looked at it. I don’t want to drop names but, you know, Anthony Hopkins and, you know, Robert De Niro.
The illusion of fame and character and it just, it sort of becomes uncomfortable and then you’re sort of like questioning everything you say and it just, it becomes a lot of work actually. It becomes a lot of like inner critiquing and too much work.
So I – when we do have guest stars that I am like, have been like massive fan of, I take that moment and I engage in that and then I try and let that go so that we just work together as equals. I hope that makes sense.
Greg Staffa: Yes. Thank you.
Operator: And the first question comes from the line of Jamie. Go ahead.
Jamie: Hi. Thanks so much for talking to us today. So, can you first talk about – you got to direct this season. Can you talk about how that was for you and do you plan to do it again next year?
Gabriel Macht: Yes. Hey, it’s my pleasure being here with you guys – with everyone. What can I say? We – so we shoot ten episodes – no. We actually shoot sixteen episodes straight through, and we have like a week here, a week there, two weeks here. Sometimes a month here as far as like hiatuses go for the writing – for the writers to keep up with the show.
And in one of the hiatuses that gave me a week in advance where I wasn’t working as an actor to prep – to prep for my director’s episode, which this last season happened for the first episode back for the, you know, for basically the part two of the season.
And which was great is that the stakes were so high, you know? There was sort of a paradigm shift, and Louis had gotten all of this information from – he worked it out that Mike’s a fraud.
And so it allowed all of us to sort of work in this – in this sort of insular space where it was really about the characters and how our loyalties stayed true to each other, some of them, and some didn’t, you know?
And that’s why I think Louis just went crazy on all of the captors. But, you know, look I thought it was one of the most creative experiences I’ve ever had. The ensemble of actors along with the crew were incredible with me.
They were so collaborative. It was really a special time for all of us to just trust each other. And we had, you know, a great episode as far as the writing goes.
And so I think it really – I think it came out amazing. Just the experience, the process of it and the product at the end I thought it looked great how they, you know, their final cut and stuff. I was happy with my directors cut as well, which maybe one day some people will see as well.
Jamie: So, do you want to do it again?
Gabriel Macht: I do.
Jamie: You do? Great. All right. Thank you.
Gabriel Macht: Yeah. I guess you get one question, but I’ll (unintelligible) you’re not – you’re not prepping an episode while you’re acting and working in the previous episode. So, if it works out with a hiatus, it works out for me – I would love to do it.
Jamie: Great. Thank you so much.
Operator: And the next question comes from the line of Jamie. Please go ahead.
Jamie: Hi. It’s such a pleasure to speak with you again.
Gabriel Macht: Hey. How’s it going?
Jamie: Good. So, we heard Harvey say to Donna that, you know, I love you. Does that mean he’s in love with her?
Gabriel Macht: You know, I think that – you know, everyone have – everyone is going to have their own interpretation of that. That’s part of what makes art an incredible medium. You know, I think that there was a lot at stake in this last episode, and, you know, of course she means so much to him.
I think it’s really in the eye of the viewer to take what they think. I know that the producers and the writers and some of us actors, we all have different ideas about that moment. It was a very complicated moment at the time when we were shooting it.
And I think, you know, the fans really wanted to see that. And I think it blew some people away in many ways. And I think the fall out of that happens in the next episode, and we’re going to see how that all manifests. As far as I’m concerned, I actually find it really hard to answer that question.
Jamie: Yes. She means so much to him in different ways that I can imagine it can be interpreted even to Harvey in so many ways.
Gabriel Macht: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, I just think it’s a complicated thing. You know, they’ve been together for however long – fifteen years. They did have that one time. They decided not to move forward with their relationship as far as having an intimate relationship.
You know, I have always looked at it in a similar way to like Bond and Moneypenny, you know? It’s like he is her better half, but I don’t know if she’s the one. You know what I mean? So, I think it’s complicated.
And I think, you know, I think we’ll see, you know, what – I think we’ll see what course it takes over the next season – over the next episode for sure and, you know, season five. If it brings them closer or if it pushes him away. We’ll have to see.
Jamie: Great. Thank you so much.
Gabriel Macht: But honestly, I am in – I am – you know, just as you feel like you’re not really in the know, I am in the exact same place as you. I don’t know where they’re going. I have no idea. I haven’t talked to anybody. The powers that be have not told me, hey, this is where they’re going.
Operator: And the next question comes from the line of Suzanne. Please go ahead.
Suzanne: Hi. Good morning.
Gabriel Macht: Good morning.
Suzanne: I was wondering every year we have such good episodes and good writing. Is this cliffhanger – is the season end going to be a good cliffhanger like usual?
Gabriel Macht: From what I remember, I think it’s – I think it’s what people are going to want, you know? I think, you know, I think – I think that, you know, the production and the, you know, Aaron and the cast and everyone is on the same page that we’re giving the fans what they want.
And I say that with the caveat that like some people want what they say they want and some people want what they – but the opposite of what they say they want if that makes sense.
Suzanne: Right. Right.
Gabriel Macht: You know, it was very interesting to me I read some review of last episode of Intent and there was some comment on the – beneath. And someone was making predictions about what’s going to happen in the next episode.
And I don’t know if this person was involved with production, but, boy, they nailed it.
Suzanne: Oh really?
Gabriel Macht: They just like – they were like this is going to happen, this is going to happen, and this is going to happen. And I liked bang – that person just got it. So, a lot of others tried their hand at it too, and they failed miserably.
Suzanne: Well, sometimes if you’ve been watching a show or a type of show long enough you can get lucky and sort of get an insight, and then you have to be right.
Gabriel Macht: Right. That’s right.
Suzanne: All right. Thanks a lot.
Gabriel Macht: All right.
Operator: And our next question comes – is a follow up question from the line of Suzanne. Please go ahead.
Suzanne: Hi again. You’ve been playing a lawyer for a few – quite a few years now. Has playing a lawyer, would you say it’s changed your opinion of lawyers? And if so for better or worse?
Gabriel Macht: You know, I haven’t really thought about it. I was at my house the other day, and this guy didn’t – this fellow – a construction guy didn’t show up at my house like when we planned on an appointment.
Gabriel Macht: And he came the following day. And I was like where were you man? What happened? You know? And he said oh, a lawyer called me. And I was like, oh, lawyers. It just like popped out of my mouth. I don’t even know if he knew who I was or whatever. He may have. I don’t know.
But I was just like oh, lawyers. So, you know, I don’t know. I mean, I know they serve a purpose, and, you know, we couldn’t operate as society – as a society without them. But I’m sure, you know, they can make things more complicated and difficult and what have you.
But, you know, there are certain times where we – the need for them is crucial to an argument or an event or an issues. So -.
Suzanne: Do you think you could be one now that you’re – you’re used to using to using all those big words and these complex ideas?
Gabriel Macht: From your lips to my mother’s ears. But no. No.
Suzanne: She wanted you to be a lawyer, huh?
Gabriel Macht: She wanted me to be a lawyer. I sort of fulfilled half of that wish by being one on TV.
Gabriel Macht: But, you know, in essence, I’m just like Mike. I’m a complete fraud. Yeah, no. I – it’s not – it’s not for me. I mean, you know, I think Suits makes the world of law a lot more interesting.
And it makes the world (unintelligible), you know, from the real lawyers that I’ve spoken to, I think they say yeah, it’s a really good TV show.
Suzanne: Right. They skip all the boring parts where they’re reading and reading.
Gabriel Macht: Yeah.
Suzanne: All right. Thanks a lot.
Operator: And the next question is another follow up from the line of Jamie. Please go ahead.
Jamie: Hi, again. I was wondering if you could talk about some of the returning guest cast, working with them that are coming in the finale?
Gabriel Macht: Yeah. Well, we have Neal McDonough who is coming back who is an absolute ball to work with – sometimes frighteningly difficult to work with because we make each other laugh so much.
There’s one take at the very end where we’re both – the stakes are pretty high, and we just couldn’t get through it. It took us a half an hour to get through the scene because we just – what we had done is I had showed him the Jim Carrey SNL spoof of Matthew McConaughey.
And we were just on the floor – just on the floor crying of laughter. We couldn’t get through the scene. So, I – I mean I loved working with him, and hopefully he’ll come back.
And then Eric Roberts comes back. You know, next week’s episode is – our finale is, you know, we’re dealing with a lot of things in the present. Some of the stuff that happened at the end of Episode 4-10 comes back to haunt us as far as Forstman goes.
And Zeljko Ivanek – I think that’s how you pronounce his last name. He’s involved. And we have to sort of get to the bottom of what – of that threat. And, you know, Forstman character poses what I have felt in all four seasons as the largest threat.
Because he’s also – because we also delve into a flashback and how we meet Forstman and what kind of influence he has on Harvey. Harvey is sort of – I think in maybe 4-01 or 4-02, 4-03, one of those episodes in the very beginning where Mike sort of makes a deal with Forstman.
Harvey says no, no, you can’t go there because you don’t know what he’ll do. And that story is explained in 4-16. And it’s a flashback. So, you’ll see Harvey early on, and that’s when we’re going to actually meet Marcus who is Harvey’s brother.
Jamie: Oh, cool.
Gabriel Macht: And Billy Miller and I, we had a good time working together. And I think that Season 5 we’re going to explore that relationship more. And he was excellent. And those are the three that I can think of right now.
I mean, we have such great guest stars come on our show including my dad who was terrific and, you know, poses a real threat to Mike’s character. You know, Stephen Macht who played Professor Gerard.
Gabriel Macht: We’ve been really, really fortunate to get just super solid actors to come and play with us.
Jamie: Great. Well, thank you so much.
Operator: And the next question is another follow up from line of Jamie. Please go ahead.
Jamie: Hi, I was wondering if you could talk about the emotions that you were feeling and what was going through your mind when you were filming such an intense scene in Donna’s apartment.
Gabriel Macht: I – you just – I’m trying to think of how to answer that question. You know, I was trying just to make that scene work and make it believable. You know, so much of our work on Suits bears a lot of exposition. And there’s a lot of, you know, attorney jargon. And it’s setting up certain stakes with information.
And if we go in and dissect that scene, in a way there’s some of that in regards to, oh remember – I don’t know if that was cut out, but remember your mother, and the last time I was here, blah, blah, blah. But then it just gets into the actual perspective of, you know, what these characters are feeling.
And what each character means to them. And so it was, you know, an emotional stakes there and these guys talking about their feels and Harvey’s not really one to talk about his feelings. He really just sort of holds it close to his check.
And I think in that moment he’s been, he was trying to do everything that Donna has been telling him to do, either with Scotty or with Zoe or whatever to bring his, you know, shield down.
And I think what I was trying to do as an actor was really just try and make it as natural and as open and, you know, and being vulnerable without going too far, you know.
And so it was just trying to make, make sense. That’s what was going on for me. And to get to that place so it meant, you know, whatever is implied with that line, you know, I love you Donna.
I mean we tried a million different versions of that, you know. One that was like super light. It was like, Donna, you know, I love you, like come on. You know what I mean. They happened to pick that one and we’ll see how it, you know, manifests next week.
Jamie: Thank you so much.
Operator: Our next question is from the line of Brittany. Please go ahead.
Brittany: Hey Gabriel. Thanks for taking time to chat with us today.
Gabriel Macht: Thank you Brittany. Thanks for being such a supporter of the shows for so many years. You really have written so many great, you know, reviews. And you’re just, you’re how sense of the show is really just, I find it’s really on it and when it’s positive and even when you critique it a little bit I think you’re just dead on, so.
Brittany: Well, thank you very much. I know the last time you and I did one of these we talked about what it was like for you coming back to television. Now you’ve been in this role for four going on five seasons. What have you taken away or how would you say you’ve grown over the process of playing this character?
Gabriel Macht: Well, I think it’s – I think I’ve grown a lot with it and I think, you know, it’s sort of, it’s been an incredible blessing in disguise. You know, it’s like I never really wanted to play a character for too long. And I was always afraid that, you know, you could either get typed cast or, you know, sort of get tired in one role.
And, but I think, you know, it’s just like peeling an onion. You know, it just deeper and deeper and deeper and it’s been incredibly fulfilling. You know, I like it when it gets, when we push the box a little bit further and we keep Harvey doing the exact same things every week.
So I’ve really, I have really enjoyed it. You’ll have to ask me next year where I’m at after doing it for five years. I mean, I’m not going to lie. There are times where – I mean above all I feel like I am just, you know, one of those guys that says, hey I’m one of the luckiest guys on earth.
I’m on a series. It’s doing well all over the world. People are super entertained by it. People love the character. You know, all of that kind of stuff and on the flip side, to be honest there are days where I wake up and say okay, I’ve got to go to learn that attorney jargon again.
Okay, let’s do this, you know. So, it’s a ride, you know, it’s a ride. Just as, you know, any job after five years is, it can be a haul at times, you know. But for me I work with a great cast and, you know, these guys are my friends. And I love the crew and I’m in a really, really fortunate position.
And I count my blessings every day.
Brittany: Well, hey thank you so much for all the hard work and good luck with season five.
Gabriel Macht: Thank you. Take care.
Operator: And our next question comes from the line of Ben. Please go ahead.
Ben: Hi Gabriel. Thank you so much for doing this today.
Gabriel Macht: My pleasure.
Ben: My question to you is if you had to name one episode, which one would be your favorite and why.
Gabriel Macht: You know what, I don’t have favorites. I only have favorite people in my life and that’s my wife, my daughter and my son. But other than that I just can’t, I just don’t pick any favorites. I don’t have a favorite.
My daughter asked me, what’s my favorite color, all the time. And I just have a very hard time saying what it is. You know, I think there are episodes that are stronger than others. I think there are some that are funnier than others. I think there are some that are just – I’m so inside of it, it’s really hard for me to tell.
I can say that, you know, I really enjoyed directing my episode and seeing what it is to act and direct myself and get the trust of my cast and crew. And just be, you know, as collaborative as it was. That to me was like a really fine time in making art. And where it meets commerce in such a grand way.
So I would have to say that the experience, the full experience from prep to actually shooting to cutting, you know, editing was the most fulfilling. So…
Ben: Well thank you so much…
Gabriel Macht: There you go. Yes.
Ben: Thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate it.
Gabriel Macht: Cool. Cool.
Operator: Thank you. And the next question comes from the line of Tina. Please go ahead.
Tina: Hey there, well you touched on this a little bit earlier, that Billy Miller is going to be playing your brother. What kind of relationship do they have? What are we going to see in the finale?
Gabriel Macht: Well, his brother – what kind of relationship do they have? What I, what I remember and this is going a few months and only about two hours of my time, what I remember is that Marcus has had some gambling issues.
And Harvey feels super responsible for influencing him in sort of betting and gambling and, you know. Harvey’s is definitely Marcus’ older brother and I’m sure, what I imagine is that, you know, they started betting everything when they were kids and it just sort of like got out of hand.
And it became a problem. I think a problem that Harvey was able to work out and deal with but for Marcus I think it became a really big problem. And what you’ll see is Harvey makes some sacrifices for, some moral sacrifices and gets involved with Forstman.
And it creates problems for his brother and the two of them. And that guilt sort of has lasted for many years. And so we’re dealing with some of that and how Harvey is protective over his brother and then, you know, really sensitive to what his brother’s needs are. And how that manifests.
Billy was just great. You know, he was like really, you know, he was a good match for me. And he’s got, you know, I would just say like he’s got a little bit of a, you know, he’s got a little bit of that tough guy that we’ve created with Harvey, you know.
And so I think there’s going to be some good stuff for us to play together in the coming years. So, we’ll see. We’ll see how it turns out.
Tina: Great. Thank you.
Kristin: All right everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. Again the finale of Suits Season Four airs this Wednesday at 10:00, 9:00 Central.
For more on the show, go to http://www.usanetwork.com/series/suits/.
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© 2015, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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