It seems utterly ridic now, but there was once a time when corporate law didn’t make for bloody good TV. It was a era bereft of white-collar crime on the telly and the suave blokes / savvy ladies who smacked those corporate baddies down.
It was a time before Suits, and a time before this guy:
Since the show first sent us scrambling to brush up on torts, mergers and indictments in 2011, Gabriel Macht has been holding the fort as Harvey Specter, top dog at New York’s beefiest law firm.
Outside of crushing crims, and lookin’ sharp while doing so, it turns out the man inside that top-notch tailoring is also a swell bloke. And a fan of our own Chris Lilley.
We know this, ’cause we sat down for a chat with Macht to get the down low on Suits season 5.
At the time, there were a coupla eps left to drop in the season, which you can now get your hands on in Blu-Ray, DVD and digital flavours.
Mates, it wasn’t half as stressful as you’d think talking to an A+ litigator would be, because he dropped this one on us:
Gabriel Macht: Are you a Chris Lilley fan?
PEDESTRIAN.TV: Yeah, I’m across Chris Lilley! Have you sort of, soaked that whole world up in your time here?
GM: Well, not just here. I’ve got Jonah From Tonga, Ja’mie… I think he’s brilliant, he’s awesome.
For Australian television, we used to watch Kath & Kim all the time –
P.TV: That’s really good to hear.
GM: It’s hilarious. And I love Chris Lilley, he’s hilarious, I don’t know why he’s not a massive, massive worldwide star.
P.TV: He recently did a singalong of all the songs from Summer Heights High at the Sydney Opera House.
He got a whole theatre full of people to sing these fake songs for this fake drama teacher.
GM: That’s great. That’s great.
P.TV Look, Suits. It’s all been built on the tension of whether Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams) will be found out as a fake lawyer. It’s bad now for the firm, Pearson Specter Litt – how much worse is it going to get?
GM: What I can say is, you’re absolutely right – the stakes are the highest they’ve ever been for the whole ensemble of characters.
Already [Mike] being indicted for conspiracy to commit fraud is a huge blemish, I think, on the firm itself.
We’ve seen these two guys with the help of Louis and Jessica and Rachel and Donna get out of these sticky situations, every time.
And they get out every time. So it’s exciting to see how they do that. I think it’s also pretty exciting to see – are they gonna get out this time? Are they gonna get Mike acquitted?
I haven’t heard any ideas of what’s going to happen in season 6, but there are great stories to be told, because everyone knows [Mike’s] not a real lawyer.
The cat really is out of the bag.
P.TV: Obviously he’s capable at what he does.
GM: He’s more capable than most.
P.TV: I notice there’s an exception there…
P.TV: In this latest season we’ve seen a sort of vulnerability come in to Harvey Specter. Therapy, panic attacks.
Do you think there’s a bit of depth to that vulnerability that’s added to the character – shown something people might not know about Harvey?
GM: Since season 1 I’ve been pushing for him to be more three-dimensional. We’ve seen a guy who’s really presented himself along with his suit as a coat of armour.
It’s unbreakable. It’s uber-confidence for the insecurity that’s deep inside of him. He overcompensates for the insecurities he has what’s inside of him.
But I’ve often found that he could be more human, and we could see a little underneath the armour.
We’ve chipped away at that throughout the seasons. And thankfully, he’s put this guy in therapy to deal with his demons.
It’s been a real challenge to play all of that.
P.TV: The characters have been involved in some pretty underhanded deals with the intention of helping people. Do you support that in real life – does the end justify the means?
GM: No, I wouldn’t support that. Many of us relate to the show because we all make mistakes.
We all try to live moral, ethical, valued lives. We all try to do the right things. But we’re human and we mess up, all the time.
One little mistake can splinter off and have this extreme ripple effect throughout. And they’re trying to make amends for one job acceptance.
I would have hoped to have nipped it in the bud early on, you know? Responsibility is a big thing for me.
P.TV: So why do you think people are fully behind these super-powerful personalities?
GM: There is that sort of aspirational element. People want to be these guys. Then there’s also, like I said before, we all make mistakes.
They see themselves in these characters. They try to make their amends.
I applaud the characters’ way of dealing with this at the end of the day, but – I don’t respect the way they’ve dealt with things.
When I’m working, oh, I have to fully believe it.
P.TV: Would you take on Harvey’s powers of argument in real life?
GM: The guy can argue his way out of anything. I’d love to have his intellect and wherewithal to influence these arguments.
He is a terrific litigator – he really is. He gets down and dirty. That’s why I think people understand what he’s doing.
It hurts and it’s hard, but they understand it. I don’t think I’d do that, it’s low. He works from a negative place.
[But] there are people who fake their way through these jobs. Once a year it feels like there’s somebody who pops up in the news who pulls the wool over peoples’ eyes.
A terrible one that I heard last month, there was a woman who came from Miami to New York who did butt implants for someone, so cheaply, with caulking – and it turned into like, cement.
In the gluteus maximus. Horrible, horrible thing, so this person is going to jail for a long time.
There are fake lawyers. There are fake doctors. It exists.
P.TV: Speaking of fake lawyers… Your character’s name is Harvey. That’s notable, ’cause there are a couple of other lawyers named Harvey in fiction.
Harvey Dent in Batman, and Harvey Birdman on Adult Swim… he’s a lawyer, and he’s got wings. He’s a literal superhero lawyer.
GM: Oh wow, I didn’t know that. Has this show just come out in the past couple of years?
P.TV: It’s been around for a couple of years, but it’s a bit of a cult thing. So I really wanted to ask, if you’re on trial for conspiracy to commit fraud, who would you want of those three Harveys to represent you?
Specter, Dent, or Birdman – the lawyer who managed to get Shaggy and Scooby out for pot possession?
GM: I’m gonna have to go with Spector, of course. Because I’ve been living inside him for five years.
But I’m super excited to see Harvey Birdman. I gotta check that out. Was he involved in the old Scooby Doo?
P.TV: I think his character may have existed, but not in this way. They’ve got The Jetsons in there as well.
GM: Oh wow, that’s awesome. Is it called Harvey Birdman?
P.TV: Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you bring your own personal fan-fiction to a legitimate interview at your legitimate job. #sorrynotsorry
Right now, you can imagine this impeccably put-together gent sprawled over a couch, bingeing on primo ‘Strayan TV, while you watch him lawyer up a storm on Suits: Season 5.
And keep your fingers crossed that he kept his word, and checked out Harvey Birdman. We think the universe will be better for it.
Photo: Daniel Zuchnik / Getty.
Suits: Season 5 is out now on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital.