'Suits' star Rick Hoffman talks Louis' dangerous moves

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Image Credit: Ian Watson/USA Network

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of Suits, “Litt the Hell Up,” stop reading now.

Louis (Rick Hoffman) once again made a move that unintentionally hurt Harvey’s position in the battle for Gillis Industries. Louis fixed it by tricking Charles Forstman (recurring guest star Eric Roberts) into doing business with him by making him believe he hates Harvey as much as Forstman does—a move that Harvey called brilliant, and rewarded by suggesting they drink scotch from Louis’ “You Just Got Litt Up!” mugs. But Forstman had the last laugh, insisting that Louis run the money through Switzerland and the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes. Louis is legally bound to report him, but that would blow the deal, and he can’t bear to think of Harvey’s face if he disappoints him again.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the scene where Louis goes to make the deal with Forstman. I’ve talked with [creator] Aaron Korsh about the dangerous energy Eric Roberts to the show. Was that intimidating?
RICK HOFFMAN: I have been a fan of Eric’s since I was in my late teens. I had seen him on Broadway with John Malkovich doing Burn This. It was one of the plays that had inspired me to really take acting seriously and then study it that following first semester in college. So I’ve been a fan of his for a very long time. Just to be doing this sort of intense scene with him was another surreal, out-of-body experience for me as an actor. I kinda used the nerves a little bit, trying to channel them the right way. Especially because Louis was really putting a lot on the line here. He had to do a nice acting job himself to make sure he convinced Eric’s character that Louis was for real. Not to give anything else away, but Eric’s been a part of this show now for a bunch episodes. He’s a fantastic energy to have on this show. He’s so unique in what he does. I think it’s a perfect fit for this show.

So they’ll be having more scenes together?
Let’s just say, being what is revealed at the very end of the episode, Louis has been Litt up himself by Forstman. [Laughs]

Louis used his journal/time capsule of rage as evidence of his hatred for Harvey. He told Forstman to look at the entry for May 9, 2012. Do you know what supposedly happened on that date, or did the writers not tell you and it’s another can opener situation?
[Laughs] I don’t think that was the focal point of the scene. If people start wondering what the hell happened on May 9, 2012… We all know that Louis’ office has been urinated in by Harvey or someone close to Harvey. We know that many different tricks have been played on Louis throughout the years. One can just use their wonderful imagination to figure that one out. [Laughs]

I think fans will care enough to ask you that in the future.
There was a scene with Louis and Donna seasons ago where Donna has something on Louis and I think it was like June 7, 1997 or something. And it didn’t seem like anyone cared what that was. [Laughs] That’s still in the vault. We have a bunch of dates here that no one knows anything about.

Tell me about filming that scene when Louis presents Harvey with the fix, and Harvey says, “Charles Forstman got Litt the hell up.”
That experience, just like every other experience I’ve had with Gabriel when we’ve had these types of key scenes together, is just a very open and thoughtful process between us. There’s a very, very fun give and take—it doesn’t matter if the scene is dramatic or funny. There’s always fun things that Gabriel throws my way that aren’t scripted, and I do the same thing with him on occasion. Lots of off-camera playtime to keep parts of the scene fresh. Harvey finally approves of Louis for the first time in what, a thousand years it seems like.

Was your triumphant walk out of Harvey’s office scripted?
That was actually brought on me at the very end of shooting that scene. I didn’t know that they were gonna do that.

Louis’ end predicament gave me a nervous stomach.
Things are only going to get more complicated from here. You better take some Pepto-Bismol or somethin’. [Laughs]

How do these scenes affect you?
The vulnerable scenes, which Louis seems to be doing 18 times an episode these days, scare the s–t out of me. The real, raw, driven-to-tears type scenes have always scared me since I was very young working as an actor. And to this very day I get tremendously neurotic making sure nothing is forced or fake.

How did you get to that place in Louis’ scene where he’s telling Katrina what Forstman is making him do.
Both Silver [Tree], the director, and [executive producer] Anton Cropper had a great idea about keeping it all out the window. And for whatever reason, it helped me tap into some sort of emotion. [Laughs] I don’t know what the ‘looking out the window’ does to most people, but to me, for whatever reason, when it was all darkly lit, I had some kind of very funny visceral reaction to just being isolated and alone. It helped precipitate the emotion in that scene. It’s always something that you try to find at the very last minute that can maybe keep it fresh, and that way you don’t fall into a trap of trying to force something out when it’s not there.

What can you tease about how this affects Louis moving forward?
Louis is going to try his best to do what he always does, which is to be loyal to Harvey and to the firm, and to always do the right thing. Like most things in life, nothing ever goes 100 percent your way all the time. This could definitely not be a good thing for the firm, for Harvey, for Jessica, for Louis. Louis is right now staring at something that I don’t think he’s ever had in front of him before, and it’s going to be interesting from this point forward to see: Does it change him?

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