'Suits': Gabriel Macht & Sarah Rafferty on Darvey's Romantic Surprise and Emotional Series Finale (Exclusive)
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Wednesday's series finale of Suits.
It's the end of an era for Suits.
USA Network's outgoing legal drama wrapped its nine-year adventure with Wednesday's swan song, appropriately titled "One Last Con," giving its main characters -- Suits OGs Harvey Specter, Donna Paulsen and Louis Litt -- all happy endings as they embarked on new chapters in their lives. After kicking nemesis Faye Richardson to the curb (adios!), the series finale refocused its attention on tying up lingering storylines with a bow and set everyone on a path that would make longtime viewers content with the path these characters embark on.
There was Louis and Sheila's storybook wedding, which was cut short by Sheila unexpectedly going into labor during their "I do's," later giving birth to a healthy baby girl. There was Harvey and Donna's spontaneous decision to get married too, capping off a years-long journey of will they-won't they tension with a romantic wedding ceremony their closest friends (including Patrick J. Adams' Mike Ross!) bore witness to. There was Harvey and Donna's decision to reunite with Mike and Rachel in Seattle, and start anew, handing over the reins of the firm to Louis, Samantha Wheeler, Katrina Bennett and Alex Williams. And lastly, there was Mike and Harvey's final scene, a direct callback to their first interview in the series' first episode -- the moment that started it all.
In their final Suits interview with ET, longtime stars Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty -- each getting emotional at multiple points during the conversation -- reflected on their life-changing run, Harvey and Donna's spontaneous wedding, key callbacks to the 2011 pilot and what the past nine years have meant to them.
ET: Has it sunk in yet that Suits is over and this chapter in your life has closed?
Gabriel Macht: Yes and no. For nine years, almost 10 years, this character and this show and these people have been such a large part of my life that, to finish this beast, there's a lot of processing that I will continue to go through. That being said, it's been a month since we wrapped. I have grown my beard out. I have not put a... well, I had to put a suit on for one thing, but in the last few episodes, there were so many moving beats that Harvey had to play, whether it was losing his mom or getting engaged, finding the ring. So much has been on the line that he has been living on the edge. There's been so much emotion going on for the character that I was able to process some of the ending of this show through the character and through those moments.
When we wrapped each of the main characters, it was really moving for me. But by the end of shooting on that final day, I was ready. It was very clear in my mind that everything comes to an end and there are new beginnings. I read something about this idea of "die it-ing.” I was really engaging in the dying of it and in that being all right. When we wrapped, it was like, “OK.” I'm sure there'll be days and there'll be times where I'm still processing it in some sort of way. But the overwhelming emotional loss of it was big about a month ago. And I want to be open to having further processing going on.
Sarah Rafferty: I've had all the emotions. I really gave myself the entire season to process the ending of it and then pretty intensely when it got time to actually say goodbye to people as they were wrapping. There was a lot of sadness and also so much gratitude and joy, and I’m just so thrilled it happened. Just tickled that it happened. We spent almost a decade doing this and you're just so grateful for our unbelievably talented crew and the fans who made it possible for us to keep coming back every year. When we finally yelled "cut" for the last time, I was really happy and ready to get back to spending a little bit more time with my family, having more time with my kids and taking some naps. With it airing, that's going to be another moment of like, "It's the last time a new one airs." And we're going to all be together for a wrap party so I'm glad we're going to be together, but it's going to be another layer of "Oh god! All the emotions again!"
What was the final day on set like? What was your final scene?
Macht: When it was a series wrap on me, it was the series wrap on both Sarah and I. We'd wrapped Rick [Hoffman] earlier and that was very moving; it was a hard scene to shoot because there were so many lines in the episode that were hard say for us as actors because it meant differently for us than the characters. I think I said to the crew, "When I have to do interviews for this and ET asks me, 'What was it like in that last moment?’" this is the moment! I was sitting at Harvey’s desk, Donna comes in and says, "Come on, let's go," and he says, "I just need a couple of minutes." I looked around the crew, and I looked at Sarah, and I looked at [creator] Aaron [Korsh], and I looked at the space around me, and I just had so much reverence for being a part of this that has touched so many people. I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude to have been in the right place at the right time, to have played this character, to have created these stories, to have touched so many people from my life -- my wife and my family. I had that incredible sense of “Wow, this has been an amazing trip. This has been incredible.”
Rafferty: The last thing was at 3 in the morning, the tiny piece where I go into Harvey's office and say “It's time to go, are you ready?" Prior to that, we had, days before, shot Donna walking through the office, taking that all in, joining Louis at the elevators and getting in the elevator with him. That was a particularly emotional day for me because I pointed out to Rick, "This is our last moment on screen and we're in it together." That goodbye was particularly hard. Early on in the last day of shooting, we shot the scene where Donna and Harvey meet Louis’ baby and then they tell Louis that they're leaving. That was almost excruciating because I could barely get through that one. That was very emotional. I think after nine years, that moment where Donna says to Louis, "I know we'd said we’d always be here for you, but you don't need us anymore." That was full on.
What was the toughest scene to get through?
Rafferty: It was that scene. I was having conversations with Aaron about it because I was like, “Just give me a second I kind of need to cry right now, so that when we roll, I can pull it back together." I had told him after the table read, "Schedule some time, this is going to be really hard." I had called him weeks ago and said -- he had told me a rough outline of what was going to happen, the getting married and that they were going to leave -- and I said, "The most important thing that I need from you in this is that leaving Louis is big." It's great that Donna helps eliminate for Harvey his true past and that he should, above all, be true to himself. He wants to go work with Mike, he wants to do good, he wants to leave this life behind; he's done all he can here. That's great that she was a part of facilitating that and that's a happy future they're looking forward to, but it’s still going to be huge to say goodbye to Louis. She does get to say "I'm not betraying you, you don't need me," like, “You're good. You got this."
Macht: Each scene had moments of, "This is sort of devastating," but on the flip side, it was like, "But it's so right and it makes so much sense to move on," you know? It was a scene on that final day when we shot Louis seeing his baby for the first time and sharing that moment with Donna and Harvey, and then Donna and Harvey telling him that they're moving to Seattle, that was hard. It was the final scene that we all shot together; Sarah, Rick and I had been there the longest. There were so many times where I would look over at Sarah and she was extremely emotional about it ending. And that was her way of processing it. I had to look away, because this was going to make me [break down]. So, for a time, I had to look away. I couldn't engage.
But there was that scene with Louis, Sarah and Harvey in the bullpen, where they decide to take Faye on and do it. That was the last scene that we shot with Rick and that was really hard. He said a really nice goodbye speech and gave so much respect to the crew and to Sarah and I. That was really, really sweet. There was a moment a few days earlier, when we wrapped Wendell Pierce. He said some words to me that just struck a chord with me -- got me, really got me.
Earlier this year, Sarah said that she didn't see a big white wedding in the cards for Harvey and Donna. Yet in the finale, they end up getting married. Did that come as a surprise?
Rafferty: Yes, I was totally surprised. When I did say that to you, I was being honest and Aaron knows I feel this way. I was like, "She's not the girl who's been dreaming of a white wedding and figuring out what kind of ice sculpture she wants." She doesn't strike me as that and her end game, it wasn't ever going to be that she got the guy. I don't think that's what Donna's journey was over the nine years at all and I don't think that's what we played. The fact that their wedding was spontaneous was really beautiful for them, because everyone’s here and we need to make a public vow to each other. They will be our witness, and we're going to be partners for life moving forward. thought that was lovely, but I think it wasn't the big white wedding.
I hope the fans will be super happy with it and get what they want because I really want the fans to be happy -- like deeply want the fans to be happy. They made us so happy by keeping us on the air, so I hope that they get that it has this extra layer of depth and maturity. These aren't 20-year-old people, either. They've been through a lot and they're coming out of the darkness. Full.
Macht: Aaron and I spoke early on before we started shooting and he pitched me the major plot points and I was down for all of them. When it came to closure, as far as the show is concerned and for the "Darvey" fans, Aaron gave the fans what they wanted. I think it made sense and I think it all came down in the right way -- and I love that there's a twist. You're seeing Louis and Sheila get married and then it's basically a double whammy. One of the funnier lines, which I said maybe once, but it may have just been in my head and never came out of my mouth… It would've been funny if Harvey said to Louis, "Can you believe it? The two of us got married on the same day?" But I thought it worked out great. It was a great surprise. The ring that Lily gave him in the envelope was super moving. It was [perfect] for the Suits fan and it delivers.
Did you even envision that they would reach a point where they would get engaged or married at the end?
Rafferty: No, I didn't actually think about that. But I had been one of the people who have said all along -- maybe I said it to you -- that they've always been partners. He's the one who said, "I can't be me without you.” They definitely have this, for better or worse, co-dependent relationship, where she couldn't move on with her life with another man and the times that she tried, he couldn't live without her. She always felt like he would never emotionally rise to the occasion to be a partner to her in that way and they got over that in season nine. The circumstances led them to get over it, but I never thought we would shoot a wedding. It wasn't even on my radar. I just thought, they'll be together in a deep way, but it was lovely that it turned into a wedding.
There was a scene from season one where Harvey makes this quip to Donna after she anticipates all his needs and says, "Marry me." One one could make the argument that this was basically nine years in the making.
Rafferty: Oh yeah! That was in the pilot. He says, "Marry me," and she finishes all of his sentences and she's busy typing at the same time and then she's like, "I took care of that, we've been married for the last seven years." And it's true, they were work married, they were joined at the hip. Funny, you're right, full circle. And she got a pretty dress -- and it wasn't white.
How much of the vows were scripted? Were you able to add your own flair to them?
Rafferty: It was totally scripted. I said, "I do," like, "Finally!" that made the crowd laugh at one point. You know, like a regular "I do"? Like an "I do, f**k yeah! We have all been waiting!" (Laughs.)
There were a lot of extras in that wedding scene. Were some of them longtime crew members on the show?
Rafferty: Our background actors have been with us the whole journey and a lot of them were there that night. When it was just Gabriel and I shooting very late at night, the background actors took us aside and gave us these beautiful cards and had speeches. We really connected with them and they have been so loyal to us. They're a huge part of our family. They were there for us and they were so generous to give Gabriel and I those cards and to give us a lovely send-off. They became a family among themselves too.
Mike and Harvey's final scene in Harvey's office was a nice callback to the very first scene they had together in the pilot back in 2011, when Mike was stumbled into interviewing for a junior associate position. And that kicked off a nine-year journey. Was that like a full-circle moment for you and Patrick to have again?
Macht: Yeah. it was a really nice touch for them to bookend the whole series on that. You start with that interview and you end with the mentee interviewing the mentor. The idea that they remembered exactly what they said to each other made me laugh, but it's television! (Laughs.) I thought it was a really sweet touch. It's great for the fans to see Butch and Sundance get back together and that these guys are going to ride into the sunset kicking a** and taking names. And I think that's a cliché -- in a positive way, in the sense that it's what people want sometimes in this kind of storytelling. It's helpful for fans to see where these guys are going to move towards. Not only that, but for both Patrick and I, it really did start as a two-hander.
It didn't end that way, but I always felt that my right arm was missing and part of the show was missing without Patrick there. So, to have him show up in three episodes of the season and have his energy back on set... I loved working with him. We fell right in stride the second he got back and that was the last scene we shot. We were talking about how this was the last scene we were going to be in this space, in this office, with these basketballs, with that couch, this desk, the records. We looked at each other like, "Holy s**t, we've been through a lot together." And you can count the ways -- through marriages, deaths, divorces, more marriages and kids. He has a child now. It was a real moment for us and so, not only nostalgic for the viewer but for us in shooting that.
Knowing that Harvey and Donna are reuniting with Mike and Rachel in Seattle, that was something I didn’t know I needed – that these four people, at the end of the day, chose each other. Can you talk about that ending?
Macht: I was happy to see that Mike and Harvey would get back together. That's what I was happy about. For me, I guess it felt a little abrupt, but maybe that's OK. There's so much packed into that episode, it's got to be a colossal challenge. To have done what Aaron did over nine years and to direct this into these waters and then bring this back home by capping up all of these storylines, he did a wonderful job and I give so much credit to him. And so, you know what? If they end up in Seattle, great. I'm super happy for both Harvey and Donna, and Mike and Rachel.
Rafferty: I hope the fans are happy. All I wanted from the finale was for us to launch these characters into the fan's emotions and imaginations to live on. These characters are only alive because of the fan's imaginations because they went on the journey with us. I hope that it’s mission accomplished, but I think they'll be happy and they'll be able to imagine everybody happy. I think Donna and Harvey will come back a lot to get to know Louis' child. They'll be traveling back to New York for birthdays. All I care about is that the fans are happy and that the spirit of these characters are living on with them.
Gabriel said he tried not to look at you, Sarah, because he knew every time he did, you would be crying or with tissues in hand. How emotionally draining was this final week for you?
Rafferty: When we started I basically had a 3-year-old and a zygote. Now I have an almost 12-year-old, and a 7-year-old. We spent this magical chapter of their childhood there and they grew up on that set and knew everybody, found their way to craft service of course, loved playing in the trailer, came to wardrobe fittings and tried on couture dresses. And then, having to say goodbye to the crew; we'd gotten so close and that's really hard. To say goodbye to the city that embraced us, that we loved living in. And then the castmates -- honestly I never felt like I was saying goodbye to them because I know I'm going to see them. I just saw Gina two days ago, I'm texting with Patrick and I was texting with Rick this morning. But saying goodbye to the character, that's really hard. It's weird thinking that I was changed by walking around in her shoes all these years. That really changed my life, but it also rearranged my atoms in a way to play this person I loved. So, it's hard to say goodbye to that.
The can opener will always be a thing I'll always take away from this show.
Rafferty: That's so funny! For the people on the show that were lifers, who had been on it since Day 1, they gave us all engraved can openers. There was like a little ceremony when Rick wrapped on the last day -- he wrapped two scenes before Gabriel and I -- and they came out and called everybody up from the crew and from the cast who had been on it forever, so we all have those can openers!
What have these last nine years meant to you?
Macht: It has been an incredible journey to have played this character, who is, and I can't say because I don't know, but a lot of people say that Harvey's iconic in his own way. That's been a real nod to the writing and to the lighting and to the sets that they surround Harvey with. I give respect to the cinematographers that worked on this show and the makeup artists and the hair people and all the designers and the actors that supported me and the character. It takes a village to make all that happen.
He's taught me about fear and love. And when he comes from a place of love, it always works out in the end. And when he comes from a place of fear, he gets stopped along the way. I'm still learning that and I really appreciate what these last nine years have given me and I look forward to doing something else. I find a great solace in that. There's life in the journey of creating and there are other lives, there are other characters to be had. So, I look to the next character to teach me something new about myself. Hopefully people will see those stories that I'll continue to tell when I come back to storytelling.
The @suits_usa series finale is on tonight...there will be nostalgic posts in the next few days...you’ve been warned. Meantime who thinks we will finally solve the can opener mystery tonight? Please enjoy this flashback to season ihavenoideailostcount and the bow chica bow wow music. #suits #thecanopener
A post shared by Sarah Rafferty (@iamsarahgrafferty) on Sep 25, 2019 at 1:25pm PDT
Editor's note: The interviews were conducted separately and combined into one. They have been edited for length and clarity.
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