Meghan Markle is currently whipping up a storm as Rachel Zane in in U.S. comedy/drama Suits, which is out on DVD now.
I caught up with the actress to talk about the opening series of the show, what attracted her to the role and what lies ahead in season two.
- Suits Season 1 has just been released on DVD here in the UK so for anyone who missed the show when it was on TV can you tell me a little bit about it?
The show is based on the idea that this one guy has a legal mind, and the show was actually called A Legal Mind before it was renamed to Suits, and Mike Ross is the character who is a Mensa of sorts but is a little rough around the edges. He ends up working at a law firm even though he is not a lawyer.
The first series follows his relationship with Harvey Specter, who is one of the most prominent lawyers in Manhattan, and how Mike Ross is trying to keep this secret of not truly being a lawyer but having the mind of one and trying to find his way in this world.
Of course with the help of many characters in the show but especially my character Rachel Zane he finds an ally and together they work through many of these cases - and of course there is a little bit of a love interest in all of that. So it’s fun and season two is even better.
- You take on the role of Rachel Zane in the series so what was it about this character that really drew you to the project?
When I first read the script I loved that the writers had not just for Rachel but for female characters in general on this show made them very layered and all very strong.
Rachel Zane is written as a character that has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law - she is a paralegal with the Achilles heel of not being able to test well.
In many ways I love that she had this fatal flaw and yet she had had incredible value at this firm and realising that with her intelligence and with her savvy… she is the only paralegal that I can think of in TV who has an incredible office (laughs) - but it is because they value Rachel so highly even though she is not an associate.
So I was drawn to how many nuances that I could find in her and then also being part of a love interest that I think could become something really special for TV.
- Well you have touched on my next question really Rachel is such a strong and feisty and I was wondering how much that was a draw for you?
I loved how strong that she is and for most actresses it’s a challenge these days because many writers will just create a female character that is just cute of just the wife or just the girlfriend. And to be able to still have those elements of being cute and charming is fine but I think the draw is to be able to play someone who has dimension and a level of strength.
Before I started acting I use to work for the U.S. Embassy and I always loved the power play that was involved in politics and certainly within an office and I think being able to watch a woman hold her own and, at least in the case of Suits, be able to show Mike Ross a thing or too.
I believe that there is a scene in episode six or seven there is a scene where Rachel goes head to head with Louis Litt and you get to see that she is young but she is incredibly smart, driven and ambitious and I think that that is a great role model for women and for me as an actress it is a pleasure to be able to bring that to life.
- So how do we see her develop throughout the season?
For the onset you see that Rachel has a very tough exterior, maybe it’s because she is use to having all these young hot-shot lawyers coming in and presuming that she is nothing more than a paralegal; who is pretty and wiggles around in a pencil skirt maybe.
So because she has that aversion to these characters when Mike Ross walks in she treats him very similar to how she has treated everyone else.
But over the course of the season we see her soften and soften towards Mike and we see more facets of her personality; she is a lot gentler and she comes from a lot of money but wants to make it on her own.
So those elements I find really interesting but also we get to see that she considered having someone take the LSats for her so you get to see that she is human. Despite being smart and savvy she still really want to be able to be a lawyer and you see a brief moment where she considers doing anything to make that happen.
So by the end of the season you have gotten to see a range of how badly Rachel wants this dream for herself but how badly she wants to make it on her own
- The second season is also set to air in the U.S. later this summer so can you give me any hints as to what we are going to see happen in the show this time around?
Oh I wish I could but I can’t say. But what I can say is that the cast have all become very close and a bit like a family so Rick Hoffman, who plays Louis Litt, immediately start text each other when a new script comes out, like last night episode 2:04 got sent to us.
And we are like ‘Did you see it?’ ‘Have you read it?’ ‘Are your reading it?’ And all I can say is that each episode that we have had thus far, even in the first five or ten pages when you get to the teaser of the episode, immediately there’s a blitz of phone calls and we are all going ’oh my god’.
So we are fans as much as we are parts of the show and it is definitely full of jaw dropping moments and it is beyond exciting.
- Aaron Korsh created the show and he has been behind shows such as Everybody Loves Raymond so how did you find working with him?
Aaron is amazing; he was at my very first audition for this show. He actually conceived this show to be about Wall Street but USA Network, which is our home network here that airs the show, said they wanted it to be more episodic that fans could follow every week but they really loved these characters that he had created.
So they said if he was able to put this characters in another environment, and he chose law, then they would be able to do something with the show - and that is when is started happening.
And I think that you can see and feel within the show that these are characters that has written about dreamed about and created for years, even though we are all just getting to meet them with this second season Aaron has had them on his radar for quite some time and have so much depth.
He is just an incredible writer and an incredible supporter of us and he is also very collaborative in letting us bring the words to life and play, which is such a treat for an actor.
- Rick Hoffman and Patrick J Adams are just a couple of names on the cast list so how did you find working with them - was it a fun set to be on?
Oh my God you should come and visit (laughs) everyone is great. We film in Toronto so we are all far from home and the only way that you can get through that is to be with people that you love working with and we are incredible fortunate to have that.
Patrick and I had done a pilot for a different network about five years ago so he and I had known each other for quite some time.
When I tested for this role and found out that he was Mike Ross I was instantly happy because I knew that we had a great on screen chemistry for the project that we had done before - besides the fact that he is a complete gentleman and charming as well as being easy on the eye (laughs).
But beyond them the ladies, Sarah Rafferty who plays Donna and Gina Torres who plays Jessica, are just incredible, I had lunch with them yesterday. They are both amazing role models not just as friends and actresses but the kind of mother that I would want to be one day and the kind of wife.
They are just fantastic women and we have such a good time. And Rick Hoffman is like my big brother and keeps us all laughing.
- We are also going to be seeing you back on the big screen this year in Random Encounters so can you tell me a little bit about that?
That was an independent film that I shot a couple of years ago. I had been doing a bit more comedy until I got Suits with little parts in get Him To The Greek and Horrible Bosses so Random Encounters is a lot more like that.
I play a very sassy, sexual and hilarious character, which is a departure from the classiness of Rachel Zane - in Random Encounter I would say that I am a little crass.
- This is another comedy project, following on from Horrible Bosses last year, so how much is this a genre that you are comfortable with?
I love doing comedy, specifically single camera comedy. When I started my career what was popular in America was the more tight camera comedies and I did guest star and co-star roles just to get those credits and that familiarity.
I grew up on the set of Married With Children, my dad is a lighting director, and because I knew that world I think I always had a comfort level of being around comedy and an audience and what not. But in the past few years having done more single camera comedy I love the fact that there is more room to improv and play.
Even though Suits isn’t a comedy, I do think that we fall somewhere nicely in between, I do think that the same idea of being able to improv and have fun translates onto our set - yesterday I shot a scene with Sarah where they let us have a riot. So it is definitely within my comfort zone now as I have been working with such incredible comedians such as Rick Hoffman.
- You have moved back and forth between TV and movies in recent years so how do you find working in these two very different mediums?
I would say that television is a world that I am ore comfortable in, simply because I have just done more of it. But being a series regular is an incredible luxury of consistency that often actors don’t have so I am grateful than that.
Film work is a lot of hurry up and wait and I am not quite as comfortable sitting in the trailer and waiting to do the scene all day. But it’s still nice being part of a collaborative process and the more film work that I do and the larger the roles I am sure that I will have a different experience. But for now I do love the family and the fun that I find on the set in television.
- Finally what's coming up next for you?
Well we are shooting season two of Suits until late October so beyond the summer filled with press events and promoting the show I think by the time I get to the hiatus I will just be happy to rest for a bit and be home.
In the interim being her on Toronto working on Suits I couldn’t ask for anything more.
Suits Season 1 is out on DVD now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw
Tagged in Suits