Now entering its third season, USA Network’s Suits is a stylish legal drama that is as much about boyish escapades as it is courtroom maneuvering. Pretending he has a Harvard law degree to score a job as an associate at a Manhattan law firm, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) negotiates the halls of power hoping his secret won’t get out. As you’d expect for such a handsome guy, Mike gets the attention of the ladies in the office, particularly paralegal Rachel (Meghan Markle). In this Meghan Markle interview, the actress speaks to CableTV about her role and what fans can expect this season.
Q: How did you land the role of Rachel Zane?
Markle: I had received the script and, when I read it, I loved Rachel because I found her to be so layered and interesting. I love that you meet her and she is just so sassy and confident. I remember thinking “I don’t think Rachel is a bitch.” I knew a lot of people were going to [audition] playing her in a way that seemed abrasive and bitchy. I went into the audition and I thought I just did a terrible job. I was distracted and I thought I didn’t get it. A couple of days later, I got a call that they wanted to test me for it and I was going to do a chemistry read with Patrick. I did the test and two weeks later I got the part and four months after that we found out the show had been picked up.
Q: During season one, Rachel had great scenes, but they were short bursts throughout the episodes. Since then, it seems that she has been given more air time. How do you prepare to go deeper into a character?
Markle: As an actor, I was just so grateful to be given more to do. I had always seen that spark in Rachel and hoped that they would really start to highlight more of her dimensions outside of the office and her ambitions. Aaron [Korsh], the creator, and I had talked pretty extensively about where we saw Rachel going in terms of her aspirations to be a lawyer and to look at her as a person separate from the cat and mouse love connection with Mike. So, as an actor, it was great.
Q: What’s the deal with Rachel and Mike?
Markle: Season three begins two days after the end of the season two finale. In those two days, you see that Rachel really had a lot to process. Yes, she has these intense feelings for Mike, but at the same time she realizes that everything he has told her was a lie. I think the challenge of this season will be for her to try to move forward in this relationship without resenting him.
Q: What else is Rachel dealing with this season?
Markle: It’s a great season for Rachel and I am so excited. We are going to see if she can get into a law school and which one. As an actor, I am hoping that it’s one in New York because otherwise there won’t be much of Rachel Zane if she is at law school somewhere else. She also takes on another case with Louis (Rick Hoffman), and her relationship with Donna (Sarah Rafferty) will grow. Rachel realizes that Donna has known about Mike’s secret. That betrayal and understanding that one of her closest girlfriends has put her in that situation really changes their relationship.
Q: I wanted to ask you a few fan questions. We got a ton of marriage proposals.
Markle: [Laughs]. Well that is hilarious and flattering. Thank you. I can’t believe that.
Q: We got a lot about Rachel’s fashion, too. Are you as invested in fashion as Rachel?
Markle: I think our costume designer on the show is so amazing. A lot of the pieces Rachel wears are very classic, and then we take risks with young designers. The pieces are incredibly high quality and are special, and I interchange them all the time. For example, the skirt I wore in the pilot episode is still in Rachel’s closet and I probably wore it twice this season. We wanted to construct it in a way that made it feel like a real girl’s closet. I didn’t want to dress like a celebrity and only wear it once.
Q: Did the steamy scene between you and Patrick in the file room at the end of season two really take eight hours to film?
Markle: I think it took seven and a half hours [laughs]. But if he wants to go with eight, I will go with eight. There were a lot of challenges in that scene. We broke it up into two pieces, the argument with the slapping and then the “ta-da” of the file room. Mike and Rachel were owed a moment where you got to see that it mattered. There was some real meat that needed to be figured out at the end of that scene.
Q: How does it feel to hear you have so many fans that are so invested in both you as an actress and the character of Rachel?
Markle: It’s amazing. As an actor, you spend so much time just trying to get a job. So to go from an audition, and this was one of many, and then have it become a pilot, which again was one of many. I had done six pilots that went nowhere. And then to have a show become so successful and have fans become so incredibly loving and supportive, I am just so thrilled. It’s humbling and it’s exciting, and I hope we can do it for a long time because I am just so grateful.