In the Season 4 finale of Suits, called “Not Just A Pretty Face,” Harvey (Gabriel Macht) must revisit his own uncomfortable past, in order to help SEC investigator Sean Cahill (Neal McDonough) link his corrupt boss Eric Woodall (Zeljko Ivanek) with corporate raider Charles Forstman (Eric Roberts). Meanwhile, Donna (Sarah Rafferty) helps Louis (Rick Hoffman) with an unexpected crisis, and Mike (Patrick J. Adams) and Rachel (Meghan Markle) must each figure out where they stand with Harvey.
During this interview with press to discuss the show’s season finale, actor Gabriel Macht talked about what it was like to direct an episode this season (he directed Episode 411, “Enough is Enough”), how fortunate they’ve been to get the guest cast that they’ve had, getting to see the relationship between Harvey and his brother (Billy Miller), how fans will feel about the finale, where things will go next for Harvey and Donna, how he’s grown throughout the process of playing this character, and why he doesn’t like to pick favorite episodes. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Question: What was it like to direct an episode, this season?
GABRIEL MACHT: We actually shoot 16 episodes, straight through, and we have a week here or there, or two weeks. Sometimes it’s a month, as far as hiatuses go, for the writing and for the writers to keep up with the show. And in one of the hiatuses that gave me a week where I wasn’t working, as an actor, I was able to prep for my episode, as a director. It was great because the stakes were so high. There was a paradigm shift, and Louis had gotten all of this information and worked it out that Mike is a fraud. It allowed all of us to work in this insular space, where it was really about the characters and how our loyalties stayed true to each other or didn’t. I thought it was one of the most creative experiences that 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. We had a great episode, as far as the writing goes, and I think it came out amazing. I thought the process of it and the product, at the end, was great. I was happy with the final cut, and I was happy with my director’s cut, which maybe one day some people will see, as well.
Do you want to do it again, next season?
MACHT: I do. If it works out with a hiatus, I would love to do it.
What can you say about the guest cast that are appearing in the finale?
MACHT: Well, we have Neal McDonough coming back. He is an absolute ball to work with, and sometimes frighteningly difficult to work with because we make each other laugh so much. There’s one scene, at the very end, where 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 I had just shown him the Jim Carrey SNL spoof of Matthew McConaughey, and we were just on the floor, crying of laughter. We couldn’t get through the scene. I loved working with him, and hopefully he’ll come back. And then, Eric Roberts comes back. Our finale deals with a lot of things in the present. Some of the stuff that happened at the end of Episode 410 comes back to haunt us. And Zeljko Ivanek is involved, so we have to get to the bottom of that threat. Charles Forstman, as a character, poses what I have felt, in all four seasons, as the largest threat. We also delve into a flashback of how we met Forstman and what kind of influence he has on Harvey. You’ll see Harvey, early on, and that’s when we’re going to actually meet Marcus, who is Harvey’s brother. Billy Miller and I had a good time working together, and I think that Season 5 is going to explore that relationship more. He was excellent. We have such great guest stars that come on our show, including my dad, who was terrific and poses a real threat to Mike’s character. Stephen Macht plays Professor Gerard. We’ve been really, really fortunate to get super solid actors to come and play with us.
What kind of relationship does Harvey have with his brother?
MACHT: Marcus has had some gambling issues, and Harvey feels super responsible for influencing him, in betting and gambling. Harvey is definitely Marcus’ older brother. I imagine that they started betting on everything when they were kids, and it just got out of hand and became a problem. It was a problem that Harvey was able to work out and deal with, but for Marcus, it became a really big problem. So, what you’ll see is that Harvey makes some moral sacrifices and gets involved with Forstman, which creates problems for his brother and the two of them. That guilt has lasted for many years. So, we’re dealing with some of that, and how Harvey is protective over his brother and really sensitive to what his brother’s needs are. Billy [Miller] was just great. He was a good match for me. He’s got a little bit of that tough guy that we’ve created with Harvey. There’s going to be some good stuff for us to play together, in the coming years. We’ll see how it turns out.
Is the season finale going to be a cliffhanger, like usual?
MACHT: From what I remember, I think it’s what people are going to want. The production, Aaron [Korsh] and the cast are on the same page, in giving the fans what they want. And I say that with the caveat that some people want the opposite of what they say they want, if that makes sense.
We just heard Harvey tell Donna that he loves her, but does that mean that he’s in love with her?
MACHT: Everyone is going to have their own interpretation of that. That’s part of what makes art an incredible medium. There was a lot at stake, in this last episode. She means so much to him. But, I think it’s really in the eye of the viewer to take what they think from that. I know that the producers and the writers and some of us actors, all have different ideas about that moment. It was a very complicated moment, at the time. The fans really wanted to see that, and I think it blew some people away, in many ways. 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. I just think it’s a complicated thing. They’ve been together for 15 years, or however long, and they did have that one time. They decided not to move forward with their relationship, as far as having an intimate relationship. I have always looked at it in a similar way to Bond and Moneypenny. He is her better half, but I don’t know if she’s the one. It’s complicated. I think we’ll see what course it takes, over the next episode, for sure, and into Season 5. If it brings them closer or if it pushes him away, we’ll have to see. But honestly, 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.”
Is the great chemistry between you and Sarah Rafferty as simple as chalking it up to your long-term, established friendship?
MACHT: It’s a combination of a million things. I think that our relationship is definitely part of it. We’ve had a ton of life that we’ve both been present for with each other, if that makes any sense. There have been births and deaths and friendships that have failed. We’ve just been in the mix for 20 years. It’s a real friendship, and I think that really helps. In addition to that, it comes back to the writing. I think Aaron has really written these two characters very specifically, and the way they interact with each other is just very entertaining. They’re two sides of a coin. Sarah and I have a different process of how we work. 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, which makes it a lot more free and open. So, I think we’re just really comfortable with each other, and it shows.
You’ve been playing a lawyer for quite a few years now. Has playing a lawyer changed your opinion of lawyers, for better or worse?
MACHT: I haven’t really thought about it. This construction guy didn’t show up at my house, for when we planned on an appointment, but he came the following day. I was like, “Where were you man? What happened?” And he said, “Oh, a lawyer called me.” And I was like, “Oh, lawyers.” It just popped out of my mouth. I don’t even know if he knew who I was. He may have. I don’t know. I know lawyers serve a purpose, and we couldn’t operate as society without them. They can make things more complicated and difficult, but there are certain times where the need for them is crucial to an argument or an event or an issue.
Do you think that you could be one, now that you’re used to using all of those big words and complex ideas?
MACHT: From your lips to my mother’s ears, but no. She wanted me to be a lawyer, and I fulfilled half of that wish by being one on TV. But in essence, I’m just like Mike. I’m a complete fraud. It’s not for me. I think Suits makes the world of law a lot more interesting. The real lawyers that I’ve spoken to think it’s a really good TV show.
Now that you’ve been in this role for four seasons, going into the fifth season, how have you grown, throughout the process of playing this character?
MACHT: I think I’ve grown a lot with it. It’s been an incredible blessing in disguise. I never really wanted to play a character for too long. I was always afraid that you could either get typecast or get tired in one role. But, it’s just like peeling an onion. You get deeper and deeper and deeper, and it’s been incredibly fulfilling. I like it when we push the box a little bit further. I have really enjoyed it. Above all, I feel like I’m one of the luckiest guys on earth. I’m on a series that’s doing well, all over the world. People are super entertained by it, and they love the character. But I’m not going to lie, there are days where I wake up and say, “okay, I’ve got to go learn that attorney jargon again.” It’s a ride. Just as any job is, after five years, it can be a haul at times. But I work with a great cast, and these guys are my friends. I love the crew. I’m just in a really, really fortunate position, and I count my blessings, every day.
Do you have a favorite episode?
MACHT: I don’t have a favorite. I only have favorite people in my life, and that’s my wife, my daughter and my son. Other than that, I just don’t pick any favorites. I think there are episodes that are stronger than others, and I think there are some that are funnier than others. I’m so inside of it, that it’s really hard for me to tell. I can say that I really enjoyed directing my episode, and seeing what it is to act and direct myself, and to get the trust of my cast and crew. That, to me, was a really fine time making art, where it meets commerce in such a grand way. So, I would have to say that the full experience, from prep to actually shooting to editing was the most fulfilling.
Suits airs on Wednesday nights on USA, with the Season 4 finale airing on March 4th.