Gabriel Macht Stars in "Suits"

By Jamie Ruby

Gabriel MachtGabriel Macht has appeared in various television roles throughout his career, including Beverly Hills, 90210, Sex and the City, and Numb3rs, as well as starred in the series The Others. On film, he played the title role in Frank Miller's The Spirit and starred in films such as Whiteout and One Way to Valhalla.

Recently Macht landed the lead role in USA Network's Suits, where he stars opposite Patrick J. Adams. Macht plays Harvey Specter, who works at a top Manhattan law firm and takes a risk by hiring Mike Ross (Adams), a brilliant college dropout with a photographic memory.

The season finale of Suits airs tonight on USA Network. The series has already been renewed for a second season.

Macht recently sat down with the media to talk about his new series. ?

USA Conference Call
Gabriel Macht

August 31, 2011
12:00 pm CT

Gabriel MachtQUESTION: We have a couple of interesting guest starts this week, Gary Cole and I believe Alicia Coppola. I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about their characters and how they will each inform Harvey's somewhat mysterious past.

GABRIEL MACHT: Okay. Well, so let me just go back a couple weeks. It's funny because we were just filming about two-and-a-half weeks ago, I believe it's almost three weeks and I haven't shot that episode and/or have seen it or the finale.

I haven't seen either of those episodes so if I'm slow to respond, everyone please bear with me. 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, you know, one of the, you know, assistants back with me or she was someone, you know, 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, you know, he's sort of like Harvey's Harvey, do you know what I mean? Like Harvey's Mike, he's Harvey's Harvey and, you know, 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.

QUESTION: What do you think it is about the show that's caught on to so many viewers?

GABRIEL MACHT: You know, I don't. You know, I guess there's a bunch of reasons. There are so many, you know, 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, you know, and in collaboration with the executives at USA and finding their rhythm which has really been pretty efficient in their creativity, you know, in their collaboration, they have found a show that's procedural that has, you know, some great witty banter and the relationships between the characters seem to be more prevalent than the actual plot.

And they - I guess 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, you know, 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 sort of, you know, take the piss out of each other on-screen, make fun of each other and relate to each other in different ways.

I just think the chemistry is for lack of a better word has really found its rhythm with everyone and on top of that, you know, the writing has just been really solid and we've had some great directors.

And I don't know, maybe people are interested in, you know, seeing what good-looking suits look like and, you know, strong women, you know, all of our female characters are really, really strong and in many cases stronger than some of the men and so that's also really solid, you know, to watch that.

I think those are a few reasons why the show's doing well. Look, it's a miracle and a bunch of people come to collaborate and people really actually (unintelligible). I've been involved in so many television (unintelligible).

[Line cut in and out; crosstalk]

GABRIEL MACHT: ...Yes, you know, in my whatever 20 years of working in this business a little bit longer too - I was a kid and I dropped out - but there are so many people that are working in this business collaborating with each other and trying to find, you know, something worthwhile to either say, whatever story they're trying to tell to make it just entertaining or, you know, or whatever it is, 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, you know, 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.

QUESTION: 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 MACHT: Well, I can't give anything away. I will say that, you know, it's a constant threat and, you know, I think Mike's character is a little bit more uneasy with it than Harvey. I think Harvey feels like you know what? 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, you know, once again I think Harvey's ace in the hole and I think he's, you know, 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, you know, work his way out of it.

QUESTION: 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 MACHT: 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, you know, the last series I did was called The Others that lasted 13 episodes on NBC and Steven Spielberg produced it and I actually went on the audition.

I did a cold reading on sort of a Steven Spielberg's producing this so I don't know, maybe I'll just go in there and just show them my face, you know, 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 really, I mean, it was a huge opportunity for me.

Gabriel MachtI really liked the writing of that show and they knew they weren't going to pick it up and they ended-up killing every one of the main characters which I thought was just a really classic way to end the show and then I got a film and then another film and another film and I just started working in film.

And I've always really liked the idea of changing a character, you know, from movie to move and trying to stretch as an artist and see where that can take me and that, you know, I had a pretty good run of it for 10 years and then I just started to find that like, you know, 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, you know, challenge myself and play a character that I haven't played before and this came along and, you know, Harvey is just a great character.

He is, you know, (detective like how fast) but he's got a real heart underneath and, you know, 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. You know, 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, you know, 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 and, you know, as we delve further into him and his back story and as we move along to Season 2, you know, 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, you know, I've always approached a character in film where the person starts out at, you know, 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 know, 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, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, or he'll start learning more about himself in a way that he didn't in, you know, Year 1 so I'm interested to see how that works over the next few seasons if USA is, you know, nice enough to let us continue, if we're all sort of doing good work and the writing still says solid and, you know, people are still responding to us so that's I guess that's where I'm at with that.

QUESTION: [Is there] an idea to do a flashback to when Harvey was working under Jessica's wing in the plans for the next few episodes or maybe next season, because it's been hinted at many times on the show about his past and everything.

I think it would be a great way of showing a possibly different side to Harvey, as in showing Harvey before he was Harvey.

GABRIEL MACHT: I don't know if that will happen. I do know that in this next episode - tomorrow night's episode - and, you know, and the finale, you're going to see a few encounters with Harvey and Jessica.

You know, I think the story goes Jessica sort of, you know, saw Harvey as, you know, 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.

And so she helped him, you know, 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 but and you'll see how that sort of reveals itself. I don't know if we'll see, you know, 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, you know, 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.

QUESTION: You said we're going to learn a little bit about Harvey's past coming up in the next couple episodes. Are we going to see Harvey show any emotion?

GABRIEL MACHT: Good question. You know, I think so. There, you know, he likes to say that 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.

Gabriel MachtLook, I think Harvey is a very - 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 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, you know, 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, you know, the audience or as you might want to see him or as maybe I want to see him but at some point we will. Some point we will.

QUESTION: How would you compare the atmosphere on the set - the season finale with when everyone was just getting together filming those very first episodes?

GABRIEL MACHT: Let me think back to the finale. What were we doing? Yes, you know, 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, you know, there was a trust early on. I think we all trusted each other and it was sort of exciting and, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, no one knew anything.

I suspected that we would get picked up because I think it was really just solid television storytelling and then, you know, when we shot the finale I think what was really cool about it was, you know, the ratings had been, you know, terrific and USA has been expressing their support and, you know, they've been championing our show for quite awhile now and like just, you know, 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 - you know, 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.

And you know, everyone was really excited and, you know, I saw people just looking around the room and like what I was saying earlier about like this sort of being a little miracle, you know, maybe it's a big word but because, you know, after all it's really - 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, you know, from the grips to the DP to the, you know, to everyone on set, the actors and the designers, everyone was looking around going you know what? I really - we have all really - formed like this like incredible ensemble that reaches out beyond the cast.

And 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, you know, 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, you know, they're interested. They're invested and so there's a difference of being like okay, let's hope this, you know, sort of - this show's like - we throw it up against the wall and hopefully it lands well which is like a pilot.

And, you know, 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 so I hope that answers your question.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what we can expect for the upcoming episodes and whether or not there's going to be a cliffhanger for next season?

Gabriel MachtGABRIEL MACHT: Yes, so next so we're going to learn a little bit more about Harvey's past...We're going to learn where he came from...that he worked in the district attorney's office early on, that he had a real mentor who buried evidence and, I mean, I've sort of been talking about it...

QUESTION: Harvey's Tom Ford suits, the slicked-back hair, the jazz and blues records, all those things have become almost integral to this character. I was just wondering 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 MACHT: You know, 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 saw, you know, 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, you know, a cross between like a Cary Grant meets like a Steve McQueen in the modern world.

He's, you know, 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, you know, fully tailored and well (professional so modern). He likes to be put together. He's about presentation and he cares about what he wears.

You know, I have this idea that, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, in his line of work in closing deals, in being trusted.

You know, 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, you know, 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 you - one realizes in sort of the second half of this season - you know, 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.

The writing, you know, sort of Aaron knows all about the jazz element to him and, you know, he said he's a music aficionado and that's created something really cool about him gives him sort of, you know, he gets into, you know, into the arts and stuff.

You know, it's been a collaboration but it's also been, you know, my feeling of like this also makes a really strong character to put him in these like great suits and, you know, he's a little flashy.

But it's sort of contained in a way, you know, sort of like that - it's also sort of that - Wall Street power, you know, that crosses into that sort of metro, I don't know, metrosexual, if that's the right word for it but just, you know, man to man, New York, modern man, modern New York guy, you know? I don't know. Hopefully that all makes sense.

QUESTION: Congratulations on Season 2. I was ecstatic when I found out.

GABRIEL MACHT: Oh, thank you, I appreciate it.

QUESTION: Your character likes to dress smart and has a very big thing for the ladies, which is very similar to a British secret agent. Would you ever consider playing James Bond, especially with you having the kind of Sean Connery Bond look?

GABRIEL MACHT: Hey, of course, you know, I mean, has there been an American Bond? I just don't know. I don't think there has been but, you know, 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, you know, there was an episode I think it was - I don't - was it last 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, you know, 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.

SCIFI VISION: Who would you like to see guest star on the show next season if you could pick somebody?

GABRIEL MACHT: 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, you know, some strong woman who, you know, comes in and, you know, teaches Harvey a thing or two.

You know, there's so many actors that I think would be great on this show. You know, there's always that question of who's (Hardman), you know, (Pierce and Hardman)? Who is that (Hardman) guy, and, you know, I've always had a little bit of a wish list but, you know, I don't know.

You know, we've had some terrific actors this season and hopefully, you know, there's, you know, a whole new group of actors that watch our show and see that, you know, there's some good dramatic stuff on there that they'd be a part of it but I don't know. Who would you like to see? Can I - you don't get an opportunity to speak.

[My line was cut off so he couldn't hear my answer, but for anyone interested, I would like to perhaps see another USA Network actor, like Bruce Campbell, for example.]

QUESTION: I'm a huge fan ever since I saw A Love Song For Bobby Long...

GABRIEL MACHT: Oh wow, I appreciate that, man. That means a lot to me that you connected with that film. That's a really sensitive movie and, you know, I'm glad that you connected with that. That's awesome. That's awesome...You know, it sort of breaks my heart in a way that not enough people saw that film. It was such a little film and I don't know what happened with the studio or however it was marketed or whatever but like, you know, it just didn't reach as many people as I thought it should.

You know, there's some great wonderful, wonderful performances from Travolta and Scarlett Grant and yes, it's a really special piece. I hope people come back to it, you know, or find out about it. You know, someone who has the patience to sit through a really sort of, you know, beautiful story and yes, it really is a great film.


QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about your interactions with Chi's [McBride] character and Harvey?

GABRIEL MACHT: 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, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, are really, really strong.

Gabriel MachtQUESTION: Why it is that Harvey has taken on Mike. I mean, we've seen what he's done for Mike and what he's willing to do, but...what's his motivation? Do you have anything on that?

GABRIEL MACHT: I think aside from just, you know, saying the lines that they give me, I'm kidding, I think that in many ways Mike is, you know, a representation of what Harvey was when he was a kid and he got a real shot from Jessica to, you know, break out of the world that he was in and get a second chance and I think there's a lot of - 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, you know, got in over his head and made a few bad decisions but is truly a good person at heart, is extremely bright and deserves, you know, deserves a second chance and I think that's sort of what happened with Harvey early on and so when he sees this kid as being, you know, a younger him, he feels like, you know what?

This is one of the ways that he can give back and, you know, I like thinking of it like that and it creates even more compassion and, you know, that heart that a lot of people feel that Harvey lacked, I think that sorts of underlies his M.O. which gives him, you know, which gives him a little bit of his charm, it gives him a little bit of his sensitivity.

It gives him, you know, his thinking outside the box for, you know, the greater good and, you know, all of that stuff. I think that says it, you know, and not to mention, you know, he needs someone to do some of his dirty work and to, you know, 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, you know, the Harvard graduates who, you know, come in and, you know, are like are basically all like, you know, (instances) of Louis. He wants somebody more like him so I think that's the answer to that.

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