Mike is finally a lawyer, and though he’s returning to Pearson Specter Litt with new purpose, the change will present its own set of challenges.
At the ATX Television Festival last month, Patrick J. Adams sat down with reporters for a round table interview to preview the upcoming season of Suits, to reflect on the series, and to discuss directing the 100th episode.
Adams said the opportunity to direct the milestone 100th episode is an honor. “This is my fourth episode directing, and it was really accidental in a way that it ended up being the 100th episode,” Adams began.
“There are all these different reasons that I asked to do the eighth episode,” he said. “I just asked to do the eighth episode, and it turned out that that was the 100th. So they said, ‘just so you know, this is the 100th episode that you’re asking to direct.’ And for a second, I said, ‘oh, I’m sure you want that to be somebody else,’ and kind of started to back away from it. Then I realized, why not lean in and ask for it, and see if they would give it to [me]? I didn’t have to fight too hard, but I said I was really interested, and they agreed. So I feel honored.”
Of course, directing such a milestone episode does come with some added pressure.
“It’s scary. The thing with our show, though, is that Aaron [Korsh] never writes an episode with something like that in mind. The fact that it’s the 100th episode will likely just be, I haven’t seen the script yet, but it’ll likely just be another episode of Suits. It will just happen to be the 100th episode,” Adams said.
In fact, he felt more pressure directing a fan-favorite moment from last season. “The last episode I directed was Harvey and Donna, that dream sequence where they kiss at the beginning of the episode. That was almost more nerve-racking because, you know, that’s a huge moment for Suits fans, and [I thought], ‘I’ve got to get this moment right. If [I] screw this up, then it’s a real missed opportunity.’ So I’ll just be looking at the script and what it needs, and hopefully be able to serve it.”
Having the chance to be on the other side of the camera also means having a different perspective as an actor. Adams confirmed that often the best actors to direct are ones who have just directed an episode themselves.
“They have so much patience! That’s what Gabriel [Macht] did,” he said. “After Gabriel directed the first time, he walks in [and says] — I think I have a recording of him somewhere on my phone where I made him say it — he said, ‘I will do whatever any director wants me to do from this point on.’ You have a lot of empathy for that person because they’ve been through the ringer.”
Now that Mike is a member of the bar and will be returning to Pearson Specter Litt, we’ll see him face some new challenges.
“This whole one-on-one thing that they’re entering into is super interesting, because it really represents the two sides of his character that we’ve been growing forever. On the one hand, he’s got the firm that’s taught him everything he knows,” Adams explained.
“Then he has his calling, which is civil justice, helping families that are in need, [that] don’t have anyone else to fight for them, and fighting for good causes. He is entering into this season believing that he’s going to be able to balance both of these things, and that one will sort of help him do the other. Of course, I think he’ll learn pretty quickly through a series of events that those things can be at odds. Mike is still in that place where, although he’s matured, he’s older, and he has figured out sort of what he wants, I think he’s still trying to play both sides of the game. This is a season where he is going to come face-to-face with, you know, ‘you probably can’t do that forever, either.’ So it has been fun to play that. It feels like a little bit more nuanced.”
“Prison is over. You want it to feel like the Suits that you always knew and loved, which I know is what fans want, or say they want,” he continued. “But there’s this cloud looming over it.”
As for what it’s like now that Mike is legitimately a lawyer, he has more confidence, but he’ll also have to be careful not to get too cocky.
“He goes through some different stages. I think there’s some cockiness, which is the hardest part for me playing Mike, because I’m like, ‘don’t get cocky, dude,'” Adams laughed.
“There’s some joy. He’s really happy. Obviously, [his dreams have] come true,” he continued. “There is more confidence in that he doesn’t have to hide behind it anymore. But it’s not like that still doesn’t follow him around or that it doesn’t color who he is and how people perceive him.”
Mike will also continue to struggle with wanting to be at Pearson Specter Litt, but knowing it’s not really the place for him.
“He’s gone back into his old world thinking he can be the new guy, this new version of Mike. He wants it so badly. It’s familiar; it’s his family. The only people he has in this world are the people who are in this office. His wife-to-be is working there, his mentor is working there, all the people — he doesn’t really have any other friends. But at the same time, I think from what happened last season, he learned that this is not entirely the place for him to be doing his work. So he’s always at odds with it. And that’s fun to play. There is a lot of great conflict there,” Adams noted.
“As you can probably expect, these two worlds come clashing pretty quickly. All of a sudden, you find yourself in a situation where you really are pulled between two sides.”
Adams reflected a bit on the entire series as well, and remembered one of his most memorable scenes to film.
“The first thing that comes to mind is getting stoned with Harvey. It was just one of the first times where it felt like we could get really silly for an extended period of time and we could have fun. You know, shooting those scenes, running around the office trying to figure out what Hardman was up to — I just remember having a really great time shooting that whole sequence,” he recalled.
“It was fun. It let us be silly, but at the same time pursuing a serious thing in the show. That’s where Suits lives best, where the stakes are real. You’re following what’s important to these characters, but at the same time, in the middle of it, you can have a laugh. I think that’s where Aaron Korsh is at his finest.”
Adams also shared a surprisingly emotional experience meeting a fan of Suits during Burning Man. “I met a man whose wife had dedicated her life to dealing with mentorship — helping kids to grow through mentors. Kids that maybe came from bad situations, like Mike. She had just passed away, and that was why he had come to Burning Man,” Adams said.
“I saw him across the [way], and I saw him see me. He just sort of sauntered over and said, ‘hey you look really familiar.’ I told him about the show, and he kind of went white. He was like, ‘it’s so good to meet you.’ Normally it’s just fans who [want] selfies or whatever, but I could see he was having a thing. And he said, ‘my wife just passed, and Suits was one of the most important things she said she’d ever seen.’ I mean, I like Suits, but I was like, ‘important? What do you mean?'”
“He said the message of mentorship in the show is so strong, and people don’t talk about mentorship really. They don’t understand how profound that can be. He [said] to see a character on a television show who […] through the process of mentorship is completely transformed, [that] changed her whole career. She said, ‘that’s it! That’s what I’ve been working for. And look, it’s popular and people are relating to it.’ She could use it in teaching it; she could use it to relate to people.”
“That was huge for me,” Adams continued. “I didn’t see it changing the world in any way. That was the first time I realized that I shouldn’t be so quick to assume that even a lighter show like Suits can’t have an effect on someone.”
According to Adams, one of the things that makes Suits so unique is its resilience. “I know [with] a lot of shows now, they’ll look at the tweets. They’ll see what people are saying and kind of incorporate it into the show. Aaron [Korsh] is really not that way. That’s still why we say the word ‘goddamn’ as much as we do,” Adams laughed. “There [are] a lot of people that go, ‘that is said too much,’ and he just goes, ‘that’s just what I need to say!’”
“TV has changed a lot. I think people are into shorter seasons, eight or ten episodes, really intense, with interweaving plots that reveal themselves over a number of episodes. Suits, to its credit, has never gone, ‘let’s try that! Let’s do that!’ It has always been, ‘no, this is what Suits is going to be.’ It occupies that same space of television that it did seven years ago. Sometimes, that can be a little frustrating, where you’re like, ‘oh, I love that show! I want to do that, that, and that!’ Ultimately, if you started trying to transform it to fit that mold, it would not do what it does so well.”
“It’s sort of the end of an era. Everything has a little bit of a darker tinge, which again, as an actor, you look at and go, ‘oh, that would be fun to play.’ There have also been times in the last seven years where I’ve tried to say, ‘can’t we do that? Why don’t we go darker?’ And then it doesn’t work. You can’t make Suits into Mr. Robot. You know, it’s just not going to work that way.”
Adams credits the people he works with as one of the main reasons Suits is still going strong. “People still care when we come to work,” he said. “Seven years later, people show up on set, and they’re excited to make the scene as good as it can be. I think that’s probably got to be the key as to why it’s still relevant.”
This season, we’ll also see a new addition to the cast: Dulé Hill (The West Wing, Psych).
“I’ve worked with him a little bit, and we’re so grateful. I mean, he’s such a pro and such a nice guy,” Adams said.
“He is super cool and easy to work with. He’s been such a gentleman. I haven’t been working with him as much as certain other people have been working with him. I don’t want to say too much about that, but when I have gotten the chance, it’s been great.”
“He’s got a story that sort of interweaves with Harvey’s past a little bit, and they know each other. So he’ll be in and out for sure over the course of the season and interweaving with our main plot lines and the cases we’re working on,” he continued.
Adams also gave us a few hints about what we can expect for Mike and Rachel this season.
“They’re finally together, and all the walls have been taken down,” he began.
“Then what you really find is two young professionals who are at the peak of their careers. Finally, Mike gets to be a lawyer and gets to do what he’s always wanted to do without anybody holding him back. She has just graduated from law school, and they’re super in love and together, and there’s no doubt that they’re the person for each other.”
“But that thing when you’re in the middle of your career and you’re working that hard — it’s hard to take a step back from that and also invest in your personal life, and your family, and what you’re going to build. It’s not a huge part of this season, but it’s more just me reflecting. I can relate to what this feels like when you’re like, ‘I’m here, I’m with you, I’m doing this,’ but we both love our jobs so much, and this is the moment where if we don’t capitalize on the energy of what we’re doing, we might miss it,” he continued.
“They both have a lot of aspirations. So it’s cool to play a young couple in love, but not have it be everything that we do. It’s not, ‘let’s go through the whole process of planning a wedding, and everything is perfect.’ These people don’t really have time for that. It’s cool to have a love story where it’s just inherent that they’re in love, and really you get to see them struggling with how [to] make time for each other when they don’t even have time for [themselves].”
That’s something Adams can relate to in his own life as well.
“Troian and I have been together for eight years. We got married almost on our eight-year anniversary. Our entire relationship, she’s been shooting Pretty Little Liars, and I’ve been shooting Suits, 3,000 miles away from each other. So learning to make both things a priority and how to balance that is a huge, complicated thing. Everyone relates to it in one way or another — everyone who wants to have a career and is working as hard as we do to do what we love. You have to make sacrifices, and you have to learn to communicate. You have to learn when to say yes and when to say no. Yeah, I relate a lot to it.”
Be sure to catch Patrick J. Adams when Suits returns this Wednesday, July 12th at 9/8c to USA.
Check out all of our coverage of the ATX Television Festival right here.
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