'Suits' postmortem: Rick Hoffman talks 'Heartburn'

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Image Credit: Robert Ascroft/USA

Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Suits, stop reading now. Rick Hoffman talked to EW about the health scare, those emotional scenes with Harvey and Donna, and (gulp!) the break-up.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: USA did its best to keep the fact that it was Louis who had the minor heart attack a secret. What did you think when you first read the plot twist?
RICK HOFFMAN: I thought it was incredibly smart of the writers. The character of Louis repeatedly comments on how his body is like a temple, and clearly he’s in denial. It’s sort of fitting that he has this kind of health scare, and it shows a different side to all characters in this episode. These are my favorite types of episodes for this show, because it just really focuses on the central characters. It’s very powerful for everybody.

Let’s talk about some key moments. I loved that Donna (Sarah Rafferty) knew that even if Louis was saying he didn’t want anyone to come to the hospital, he wanted her there.
When I first read this episode, I was touched in a different way, which is once again something credited to the writers — how they can all the sudden reveal these little mini secrets. Ohmygod, Donna’s the one who comes to visit Louis first. They all know how Louis thinks. It shows a history. Everybody’s performance in this episode, it’s very touching.

Sheila (Rachael Harris) caught Louis writing out his marriage proposal to her in the hospital. After explaining why he nixed a Cersei and Jaime Lannister reference, he dropped to one knee. Was the open hospital gown scripted, or something you suggested?
(Laughs) That was added, for sure, by the writers. There was no improv. And once again though, I give the writers crap because Louis, for the eighth time, is naked, and yet Gabriel [Macht] never takes off his shirt. He’s supposed to be the hunk of the show, and he somehow wears a sweatsuit out of bed.

My reaction to Louis’ return to the office and that scene with Harvey (Macht) made me realize that’s the relationship I root for on the show. You sorta giddily jumped into his office. Was that scripted? And then the big hug!
No, I jumped. That was my fun little idea. The hug, as far as the tackling of him, that was just something I felt like doing, and it seemed like they liked it, too. (Laughs) The minute you look at Louis like, “Ah man, you’re such a douche,” then there’s something that’s kind of endearing about the guy. There’s an innocence to him. He really thinks Harvey’s his best friend, and that Harvey feels the same way.

Whenever Louis asked him to be his best man and Harvey said yes, I applauded.
What’s funny is I read it, and I was like, “Oh, I don’t know how Gabriel is going to play it,” and then Gabriel does something brilliant. In moments like that, those little small nuances that Gabriel pulls out of a hat, I feel very lucky to be working with all five of these people on this show. It could have been done so many different one-dimensional ways by other [actors], but Gabriel somehow has a way of still keeping that Steve McQueen-ish Harvey Specter character and yet it softens him up a little bit. You do kinda root for the two of them.

So Harvey was being genuine in that moment?
I don’t think Harvey’s being duplicitous. He feels for Louis right there. Especially in the moment prior, when he finds out about the heart attack, the flowers — and he goes, “I know, I’m an a–hole.” The fact that Louis having a life-threatening experience is a thing that evokes emotion from Harvey? That’s different. That’s cool.

Louis and Harvey seem to be in a good place now. Will that last?
For now. (Laughs) And put bold letters for now.

It was amazing to see Louis finally feel like Pearson Specter is his family, to have that scene with Jessica (Gina Torres).
What can I say about Gina. There’s such a special dynamic between Louis and Jessica. That’s such a tender moment where he actually reaches out to hold her hand. You’ve never seen that before. Without being campy, it’s such a sweet episode. My guess is that if the audience really likes the show, their love for it will just grow by what happens to the characters in this episode.

The audience thought Louis and Sheila would break up because he doesn’t want to leave New York and she wouldn’t leave Boston. But Sheila said she’d give up Harvard for Louis, and then he couldn’t accept that she doesn’t want children. It seemed to be a real end for them.
It’s gonna be interesting to see what people think of that. Do they really enjoy watching that relationship evolve? Are they happy to see it end? Working with Rachael Harris has been fun as all hell. We both felt kinda s–tty that it’s ending. But who knows. Let’s see how Surviving Jack [Harris' new Fox comedy] does. No one is rooting more for Rachael then I am. It’s about time that woman gets on a series that lasts for a while because she’s insanely talented.

That’s nice of you to say considering it’s on opposite Suits.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve worked, over the course of 14 years, with certain actors that are really just not nice as people, so you don’t really care what happens to their show. But someone like Rachael Harris, you hope that woman wins an Emmy….. So for now, we’ll say goodbye to Louis and Sheila Sazs, but who knows. Maybe there’ll be some disturbing Louis and Sheila makeup sex.

I loved when Donna came in and just sat beside Louis at the end, as he fought back tears after the break-up.
The whole montage — to me, that encompasses Suits. It’s just so well done in every aspect. Without words, it shows the relationships, how defined they are and how interesting. And just the use of music [Angus Stones' "Broken Brights"] and then how it ends with Donna coming back into Harvey’s office telling him to call Scottie…. You once again go, “Wow, I’m a part of something so solid and so good.” How you can take one of Louis’ happiest moments of his life to one of the most awful moments of his life within a half hour of viewing. It was an incredibly gratifying eight days of shooting. It was scary as hell as well, because I never know if I’m going to ultimately achieve what I feel I need to achieve in those types of moments, but I have to say I was satisfied. I’m very proud of this episode. Just proud of all five other castmates and what a great thing we’ve got going on.

Will we ever find out if Louis really was being a d–k when he negotiated to pay for Rachel’s law school?
That question is better for [creator] Aaron Korsh. I don’t think that’s gonna be addressed. Once Rachel was able to fight her battle, she can move on and forgive Louis for being who he was. As Donna says, the Louis today is very different.

What’s next for Louis?
I think you’ll now see Louis as a senior partner who has slightly more respect from his peers and handles what’s thrown at them in that Louis-y kind of way that is not perfect, to say the least. He’ll probably step on his own feet many more times and potentially ruin things for everyone. (Laughs) I’m not gonna tell you what’s happening in season 4. I’ve heard what’s happening in season 4. The writers do not repeat themselves. Let’s just say that.

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