In the middle of a whirlwind New Zealand press tour, Gabriel Macht, star of Lightbox legal drama Suits, reveals the show’s darkest secret to Calum Henderson: there are no actual records in Harvey Specter’s record collection, just shelves of empty sleeves.
The elephant in the room, and pretty much every room that Gabriel Macht ever enters, is this: he is ridiculously, spectacularly, disarmingly handsome. Even if you’d never seen an episode of Suits in your life, you’d know just by looking at him that this guy was a hot shot Hollywood actor. It just doesn’t seem plausible that he could be anything else.
In person he is maybe ten or twenty times more handsome than he is as fast-talking solicitor Harvey Specter. It’s the beard, which he grows out any time he’s not filming. “There’s a thing I have with my daughter,” he says, “where she associates my being clean-shaven with work, so when I have a beard she knows I’m sticking around.”
When you meet someone so obscenely good looking in real life your best bet is to try not to make a big deal about it, at least not to their face, but Paul Henry – he says what everybody’s thinking! – made it his main line of questioning when he interviewed Macht on his morning show. He wanted to know what it was like to have women throwing themselves at him; what do you do when a woman is “pushing her breasts at you,” he asked.
“I had a good time with Paul,” Macht tells me when we meet a couple of hours after his Paul Henry interview. “He’s off the cuff. We had fun.”
He was here to promote Suits, which he knowledgeably claims is “in the top two most bingeable shows on Lightbox.” It returns for its sixth season in June with an opening episode he describes mysteriously as an “homage to The Breakfast Club”.
During his brief visit – a conveniently-timed stopover on his way home from a family holiday in Australia – he was interviewed not just by Paul Henry but also Mike Hosking, was given the customary visiting-celebrity-All-Blacks-jersey by Jerome Kaino, and made a guest appearance on Jono and Ben, which he rated as the best live nighttime show he’s been on. Sorry Jimmy Kimmel.
“Those guys were on fire. Very witty and quick, very playful.”
He was dressed for this press tour by Working Style – a dark blue suit, which he paired with a white waffle-texture shirt, worn with the top two buttons undone. On the show, he says, Harvey Specter wears Tom Ford. “The wardrobe designer and I have collaborated along with the tailors to make the suit just right.”
It’s impossible to imagine him ever wearing anything else, but Macht is quick to distance himself from his bespoke-suited character: “In my down time you’ll probably catch me in boardshorts and a t-shirt.” In many ways, he says, Harvey Specter is his exact opposite. “He’s extremely Type-A, incredibly impatient, at times offensive and in your face…”
Macht, on the other hand, is deeply inoffensive, incredibly patient, and remarkably earnest. He worries about the people who tell him they decided to go to law school after watching Suits. “Our show is super aspirational and slick. It’s not a reality show,” he stresses. “If anyone was going to do a show about real lawyers, I think we’d be seeing a lot of people just reading contracts all day. I don’t know how dramatic that would be.”
As such he says he didn’t spend a lot of time lurking in law firms to research the role. “I do research in my own little way,” he says. “I come from a family of lawyers, and I find there’s similar types to Harvey in the agency business, so I’ve absorbed some behaviour from them. I’m observing people all the time.”
Was he observing me? What was he seeing? I started to panic. I told him I thought it was cool how Harvey Specter has that big record collection in his office, how he’ll sometimes just pop on an old LP. “It does create great character for Harvey,” he agreed. “And as far as set design it’s visually very stimulating to have that in his office.” Then the shocking revelation: “The truth is… there are no records in any of those cases.”
After five seasons playing the troublesome lawyer, he describes Harvey Specter as “a second skin;” when asked for his favourite moments speaks vaguely, as if recalling his dreams. “There was a scene early on, I don’t know what season, where he comes in just completely enraged with Lewis and he wipes everything off his desk, I remember that…”
“There was one moment, it may have been in season one, where Mike says something that sounds vaguely Canadian and I think I said ‘what are you, Canadian?’ It’s basically a pun, because he’s Canadian in real life…”
“You know,” he tells me at one point, “that 90% of Suits is improvised.”
“No, I’m just kidding. None of it is actually.”
Watch all five seasons of the 100% scripted, 100% bingeable Suits on Lightbox, before Season 6 arrives exclusively in June.
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