A SUITABLE MAN. As the senior partner on the law drama Suits, Gabriel Macht is a veteran actor playing a veteran lawyer. Macht earned his first acting award at the age of eight, and he’s been lighting up the screen ever since. He talks to DA MAN about his career, Hurricane Sandy and how the right suit can truly make the man. By M. Berlian
A funny thing happened on the way to the photoshoot. As Gabriel Macht and our crack fashion photography team were on the way to taking the photos you see in these pages, they got stuck in an elevator for over 30 minutes. While some of the other people in the lift started to panic, Macht was able to keep the group’s claustrophobia at bay by making them play a psychological test he got off the Internet.
Improvisational skills and staying cool under pressure are just two of the abilities a lifetime of acting has bestowed on Macht. Following in the footsteps of his father, actor Stephen Macht, he began performing at a young age and won an award for his performance in the film Why Would I Lie when he was eight. He has racked up many memorable roles since, in films including The Recruit, Middle Men and The Spirit. His current gig finds him playing the charismatic and brilliant lawyer Harvey Specter on the hit TV show Suits, which just wrapped its second season.
DA MAN: You said on Twitter that you were without power for a week after Hurricane Sandy hit. We hope you and your family are all okay. How did you spend that week without power?
Gabriel Macht: Yes, my family and I have been staying downtown and we were hit by Hurricane Sandy. I was thankful I wrapped season 2 of Suits and made the flight back to NYC to be with my family. If I had missed the second flight that day… I missed the first one because my driver got lost on the way to the airport… I wouldn’t have made it back to the city in time. Just before the storm hit, we ran out to the hardware store and stocked up on flashlights, candles, a lantern and a batteryoperated radio. We got tons of food, bottled water and firewood. We prepared various vegetarian meals, as we are vegetarian, and were thankful that with a cold fridge we’d do alright for a week as none of it would spoil like meat dishes probably would. We had gas throughout so we were able to warm things up, but we managed to prepare all our meals just before the power went out. We didn’t have power for 6 days. It was completely dark – pitch black outside when the sun went down. I walked my dog every night trusting the community was going to remain free from crime. The police said they were proud of the city, that people didn’t resort to awful behavior. The only crappy thing I saw from people was that they drove way more recklessly, running intersections without slowing down, and that gave the environment, with all its empty apartments, a post-apocalyptic feel. A parking attendant just down the street lost his life as the river made its way up to a point a block away from mine. Poor guy. We did okay compared to the many people who were devastated by losing their homes and everything. It’s just awful. Some alternative media is saying this is just the beginning and that from now on these hurricanes are going to be way more destructive and happen more frequently. Instead of rebuilding homes, people may want to consider moving to higher ground and starting over. Overall, we did okay – we found ice each day to keep our refrigerator cool. Our neighbor charged our phones in his car. Our neighbors were great. We are new to the building and each of them that stayed kept us abreast of what was going on and we made friends with them. My daughter found a new playmate. We did Halloween in the neighborhood by meeting on a corner and all the parents gave out candy. Some of the stores were giving out glasses of wine. The community looked out for each other and everybody was very friendly.
DA MAN: Although you just finished filming season two, in our neck of the woods, Suits is still in season one (on the Diva Universal Channel). What is your ‘elevator pitch’ to viewers here who haven’t had a chance to see the show yet?
Gabriel Macht: Best lawyer in NYC hires an associate who is not a lawyer, who never went to law school, but, is better than any lawyer he’s ever seen! The two of them work together to make their law firm the most powerful in New York City.
DA MAN: If you had to pick one episode to entice a Suits virgin into getting hooked on the show, which one would you choose?
Gabriel Macht: I think the pilot does a great job of demonstrating to a random viewer what our show is about. There’s tons of humor and wit but, also very deep looks at the lives of the characters that are involved. This drama is a heightened version of what these people go through day to day… But, it’s quick witted and has diverse characters. The stories or law suits that the firm is representing directly reflect the drama of our main characters. The viewer is able to relate immediately to the goings on. And, once you get through the pilot – the show just gets better and better. In fact, season 2 becomes more narrative in it’s story telling and the storylines connect week to week. I think the reason for this is, aside for getting deeper into the characters and storylines between them, a lot of people are watching these shows on DVDs and Netflix and like to watch four or five episodes in a row. There’s something nice about watching something grows week to week instead of an open and shut case each episode. I love the narrative approach. I find them more interesting.
Coat by Burberry Prorsum
DA MAN: Would you say that Harvey’s suits help define his character?
Gabriel Macht: Harvey is definitely defined by his suits but only because he cares so much about presentation. He is a cross between Cary Grant and Steve McQueen and his clients can rest assured that he is put together, formal, has a great sense of humor, and is tough as nails. He believes they need him to be all that to get the job done.
DA MAN: What kind of input do you have with the wardrobe and set designers in terms of choosing Harvey’s clothes, home decor etc?
Gabriel Macht: I sat down with wardrobe and set design and I gave them my ideas and we came together to create this character. I was a little late to the conversation when it came to where he lives. But, as you will see a few episodes – Harvey’s home gets more grounded. At first, his place is all glass and pretty empty. I wasn’t a fan of that. I believe he has traveled the world and has a very eclectic mix of furniture and you will soon see how that manifests. He has that open loft feel apartment in Season 2. Maybe he moved in the ‘hiatus’. But, as far as wardrobe…I have taken the vision of Kevin Bray our director and Christopher Peterson the costume designer of the pilot and I tried to expand on it. I thought Tom Ford was the way to go for Harvey. Wide lapels giving him power, and slender suits giving him class and elegance.
DA MAN: How would you describe your own personal fashion sense?
Gabriel Macht: My personal fashion sense changes now and then. Sometimes I’m in a t-shirt, jeans, combat boots mood. Sometimes, it’s linen pants, a button down/rolled up sleeves, and birkenstocks.
DA MAN: Harvey has been shown to be a Trekkie and a big Captain Kirk fan. How about you? is there anything that you geek out about?
Gabriel Macht: I’m not a Trekkie and the only thing ‘geeky’ about me is that one day I’m pretty sure my daughter will think my sense of humor is ‘geeky.’ I think when she’s 16 I’m going to be hearing ‘Daaaaaaaaaaaaaad’ a lot. Maybe she’ll just think I’m a nerd.
DA MAN: Harvey and Mike have a great mentorprotégé dynamic. Have you had a mentor in real-life? If so, what was the best piece of advice you ever got from them?
Gabriel Macht: I’ve had mentors along the way. I think that, growing up, my father mentored me in many ways. I was able to learn from his successes and failures and what better way to grow than to learn by both winning and losing. He was able to bestow his wisdom on me by ‘doing.’ I have learned so much by being in his presence.
DA MAN: We were fortunate enough to have your co-star, Patrick J. Adams, in our magazine as well recently. What kind of relationship do you have with him? Do you and he (and the cast in general) hang out much outside of work?
Gabriel Macht: Patrick and I work well together. When I’m not working – I’m with my family. We’ve enjoyed each others company outside of working together. He and his girlfriend came to a gathering I had with family and friends. I wanted to introduce them to my family and they wanted to meet him cause they are fans of his. My daughter loves Patrick and he’s great with her.
DA MAN: Your wife, actress Jacinda Barrett, guest-starred on 3 episodes of Suits this season. Was it ever hard or awkward to act like someone else in front of a person who knows you so well?
Gabriel Macht: Jacinda and I had a great time working together. I loved that her character brought out so many things that let Harvey be vulnerable. She is trying to let him know that it’s okay to reveal more of what is going on inside of him. That he doesn’t have to protect so much.
DA MAN: You first acted and were nominated for an award when you were still 8 years old for your role in the movie Why Would I Lie. Do you still remember much about that experience?
Gabriel Macht: I do remember a lot of my time working on Why Would I Lie. I remembered that being experience that paved the way for me deciding to become an actor when I was an adult. I absolutely loved being on set. Working as an ensemble with people you don’t know, trying to tell a story so that it would reach people and touch them. I loved it and I still love my job. Beats working for a living.
DA MAN: Did your father, actor Stephen Macht, ever try to talk you into (or out of) pursuing acting? What kind of advice did he give you about working in the entertainment business?
Gabriel Macht: My dad told me that if I wanted to become an actor I had to get training. So, after high school, where I did a lot of school plays, I decided to go to the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, which is the oldest conservatory acting BFA program in the States. It’s a four year program and you are there to learn your craft. It has absolutely enabled me to draw on different wacting philosophies so that I can adapt to whatever genre it is I’m working. I enjoyed my collegiate experience and learned a ton. My dad tried talking me out of becoming an actor when I was very young but saw very early on that this was my dream to pursue and supported it after seeing in me in a few productions. He’s always been very supportive. My mother to this day wants me to be doctor or a lawyer. Well, I may not be a lawyer but I am on on TV. Ba dum dum. pause. But seriously, my father has given me good advice about working in the business. When I was growing up. I would listen to him speak about the business with his acting friends and my mother. I learned a lot about the business being within earshot of that. I believe I had a leg up on some of the other students at the university because I’d been living in a household where that was a constant conversation. I was very fortunate to have that leg up.
DA MAN: Between you, your father and your brother, musician Jesse Macht, you have quite an artistic family. What was that like growing up?
Gabriel Macht: My family has always been very supportive of our artistic endeavors. Everyone is always at the concert, watching the show on TV, going to the theater. It’s always been that way – we don’t really know any different. My mother has a lot to do with that. She made our home a safe place to use our imagination, whether it was encouraging us to go off and work on a skit or story to present that evening or play music with each other, which we still do in the form of a ‘FamJam.’ She continues to encourage us and our children to ‘play.’
DA MAN: If you had to choose between your wife’s homeland of Australia, Canada (Suits’ shooting location) or the US, where would you like to live and why?
Gabriel Macht: I think I get the best of Australia, Canada, and the US. We have a home in Australia and we get to spend about a month there every year. We have a home in LA, which we have been renovating little by little for over 10 years and we love it. Canada — I’m there to work. As much as I love my crew, I’d be happy — well, over the moon — to work in NYC where the show takes place. I’m not for outsourcing for tax incentives. I believe the work should stay in the States. Growing up in LA and seeing so much of the industry be sent overseas has been hard for me. I see so many people lose their livelihood. It’s like the auto industry. Everyone’s left Detroit. The place has lost its spirit in many ways. Most importantly, I want to work where my family is. It’s very hard to be away from my wife and daughter when clearly the show can be shot in NYC. We are in NYC now while Jacinda shoots her new show Zero Hour and we are loving it. She is working and we are together as a family.
DA MAN: You’ve mentioned in an interview that you’re also interested in directing and writing. When can we expect you to direct or write an episode of Suits ?
Gabriel Macht: I would love to direct an episode of Suits. Maybe season 3. I have to ask first. I’d rather have Harvey take a vacation so I wouldn’t be in the episode much,so I could concentrate on the directing and not so much on the acting. But, I can’t wait. As for writing, I’ll leave that up to Aaron Korsh, who has done a terrific job so far.
Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Cannon by Judy Casey