ALL SUITED UP. Photographer/Actor” Patrick J. Adams of Suits fame has “Half Adams” for a nickname. But, from his exclusive fashion shoot and interview with DA MAN, we found out that he’s a great all-rounder. By M. Berlian.
Outfit by Prada
Adams’ story is what dreams are made of. Like most struggling actors, he started his TV career by guest-starring on a number of shows. He’s appeared on a number of award-winning and highly rated series, from Friday Night Lights and Lost to NCIS and Lie to Me. Then came what could-have-been the chance to star in a show of his own, when he was cast as the lead in a new romantic sitcom called Friends with Benefits. Yet, like any good story, bad things have to happen before you can get to a happy ending. In Adams’ case, he got fired. Looking back, Adams says being fired was a gift. No one—especially the then-colossally disappointed actor —would have known it, but Friends with Benefits turned out to be less than a success; the show was cancelled after only 13 episodes.
What’s more, only months after he was let go, another opportunity was presented before him. It came in the form of a USA Network drama called Suits. Adams plays one of the two main characters in the show, Mike Ross, a college dropout with a photographic memory. The show centers around his long days—and longer nights—working as a lawyer in a top firm, Pearson Hardman, with mentor Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and their boss, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres). And oh, Mike and Harvey also have to hide the fact that Mike isn’t a Harvard graduate from their co-workers, who include arch-rival Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman), as well as paralegal, and Mike’s love interest, Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle).
The show turned out to be a hit with audiences and critics alike. In 2011, Adams got nominated for a Screen Actors Guild (SGA) Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. In the same year, Adams also appeared in an HBO series, Luck. The show had to be canceled in mid-2012, but it did give Adams a chance to work alongside the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Michael Gambon. Meanwhile, Adams’ own string of luck has only just begun. The 31-year-old now has a steady job, a successful show (Suits is currently on its season 2 mid-season hiatus), a nomination from a prestigious award, beautiful actress Troian Bellisario from Pretty Little Liars for a girlfriend and adoring fans from around the world. Best of all, he gets to strut around in tailored suits and get paid for it.
Outfit by Balenciaga
DA MAN: What can viewers expect to see when Suits’ hiatus ends in January?
Patrick J. Adams: The driving conflict of the first ten episodes of the season was this civil war with [law firm co-founder] Daniel Hardman (David Costabile). Going into the final six, that war is seemingly over put Pearson Hardman is hugely weakened and forced to defend its reputation and try to hold on to its clients in the wake of the battle. Tensions are still high and Mike is doing everything he can to get his life together and help Harvey and Jessica to protect the firm. Rachel is forced to move on after finding [childhood friend] Tess (Elizabeth Hower) in Mike’s apartment and their relationship is seriously threatened after the path Mike chose to walk after losing his grandmother. So people can expect to find a kingdom divided and the players desperately trying to find their way back to the way things were before.
DA MAN: If you had to describe your character, Mike Ross, in one sentence, what would it be?
Patrick J. Adams: Mike Ross is the smartest fish in an ocean full of sharks.
DA MAN: Before, there was House and Wilson. Now, there’s your character and Harvey and the White Collar guys. What’s your take on the “bromance” trend in TV nowadays?
Patrick J. Adams: That word does seem pretty omnipresent at this point. Truthfully, I don’t really see Harvey and Mike’s relationship like that. From the very beginning what drew me to this script was its exploration of mentorship. Mike and Harvey are in completely different parts of their lives and so there is a natural inequality there. Of course, they are friends and are learning to trust each other more and try and one up each other constantly but first and foremost Harvey is Mike’s mentor. That doesn’t mean that Harvey is always right or that Mike doesn’t have things to teach Harvey but he is at a stage in his life where he needs the wisdom, faith and encouragement of someone who has already walked through the battleground that is a young professional in late twenties. Without that guidance Mike would never be where he is now. There are always going to be disagreements and certain issues that are difficult to overcome but that is as much a part of mentorship as anything. The questioning and the doubt and the constant disagreement is how a young person defines who they are and who they want to be and a great mentor knows that.
DA MAN: Do you get to give any input on your character’s growth? Did being nominated for an SAG award help you in get what you want from the writers?
Patrick J. Adams: During the first season of the show Aaron Korsh, the creator of Suits, said to me, “You know more about Mike Ross then I do. I might write him but I write everybody. You play him every day. You know him inside and out.” For me that was the biggest gift you can give an actor. Mike is his creation and his story is born in the writers’ room but I have always been welcomed to the table when it comes to the moment to moment stuff. In the first season I asked for headphones because I thought it would be great for Mike to always be listening to music while working and everybody loved it. I asked for the messenger bag. I purposefully dropped folders and ran around the office too fast in the first season. They let me play with those choices and encouraged me to do more and go further. The nomination had a similar effect on both on me and the writers. It was an acknowledgment that the work we were doing together was connecting with people and so together we moved forward. There are always things that, as an actor, I would love to selfishly spend more time exploring but I’m just one piece of a large puzzle and so we can only take small steps in certain directions. It’s my job and my joy to explore and deepen the moments i do get and prepare for the ones we are all working toward together.
DA MAN: You must have learned a thing or two about wearing suits during the filming of the show. What advice can you share with our readers who want to look their best in a suit?
Patrick J. Adams: Get them tailored made? I jest. Truly we are blessed on the show because we have an incredible team in the wardrobe department who are constantly finding new pieces and refining and tailoring our individual styles. I’ve never been an impeccably dressed guy so I’ve been learning a lot. I guess the best piece of wisdom I can impart is to trust your first impulse once you put a suit on. Everything can be tailored and altered but the moment you slide that jacket on you should feel that sense of confidence and style right away. If that isn’t there right from the beginning then the suit is doing its job. And stand up straight. That’s taken me two years to figure out and I’m still working on it.
DA MAN: You’ve guest-starred in several other TV shows before starring in Suits. Which one do you think made the biggest impact on you as an actor?
Patrick J. Adams: I was really lucky to sort of sharpen my tools on so many different shows before getting a chance to have one myself. It’s hard to say which one taught me the most because each of them were small lessons in what to do or what not to do. Friday Night Lights was a pretty spectacular gift. It was the first show I had ever worked on that designed itself entirely around every actor’s performance. It was a show that valued and designed itself around keeping moments between actors spontaneous, honest and alive. There was very little blocking or lighting and we were encouraged not to run lines or prepare our performances before we shot. I was young and really eager to impress and “do good” and I quickly had to reorganize myself to instead stay in the moment and listen and connect to the people i was working with.
DA MAN: You once said that being fired from Friends with Benefits helped you relate to Mike Ross and eventually helped you get the role. Could you explain what you meant by that?
Patrick J. Adams: When I booked Friends with Benefits, I had been going through a long dry spell of work. I was scared and desperate and worried that I was just not cut out for this. The script for FWB was sent to me and I didn’t really respond to it, not because it was bad but because I’m not great with half hour comedies and I find that they’re so often dependent on really confident, energetic, enthusiastic people and I wasn’t any of those three things. But I was unemployed and everyone I work with was desperate to get me working so I went in and did my best to replicate all of those qualities that I imagined they might want. I did audition after audition after audition and every time I went in the director liked me more and the network liked me less. The director was a terrific guy and a filmmaker who hadn’t worked in TV before, so I really got along with him and responded to his different notes and ideas. But the network could smell my fear a mile away and they weren’t excited about hiring me. Eventually, I don’t know how, he won them over, I was cast and we went to a table read for the network. It could not have gone more badly. Not a single joke landed anywhere. After that the network insisted he shoot full test scenes with me on location to prove to them I had it in me. And I didn’t. Days later I was fired and feeling so worthless and not positive that I had made a real mistake ever believing I could do this. A few months later Suits came along. A story about a young, bright kid, beaten down by a series of painful disappointments finally getting a chance to prove to himself and the world what he might actually be capable of. I put down the script and had never been so sure that I could do something in my life. The whole process hurt like hell but it taught me a lot about fear and always trusting my first impulse. So I’m very grateful.
DA MAN: What was it like getting to work with a legendary actor like Dustin Hoffman on Luck?
Patrick J. Adams: Game. Changing. I really could talk for days about that time of my life. To keep things brief I will just say that when you brush up against the kind of mastery that populated that show, you better be ready to learn and learn fast. It was the most dynamic, visceral, unique, focused, supportive and creative acting class I’ve ever had the honor of attending. In many ways I feel like I walked onto that set a boy and left a man.
DA MAN: You play a character who is forced to lie to almost everyone he knows. How is your poker face in real life?
Patrick J. Adams: I’m a spectacular liar. I feel like the skill of lying is the dark gift of an actor. I’m very careful to use it sparingly and actively try to avoid situations where I might be tempted to lie. But when I do I’m very good. Some of my best performances are ones only my parents or teachers have seen.
DA MAN: Mike, like many of the protagonists on USA shows, has a kind of real-world superpower, namely his eidetic memory. What would you say your real-world superpower is?
Patrick J. Adams: I think the thing I’m most proud of is my ability to learn things quickly. I just got my motorcycle license. I’m taking flying classes later this year. I’m learning Poi right now. I’m in yoga almost every day. I have a friend teaching me to DJ. I love the challenge of learning something new and I’ve learned to work quickly through those first awkward steps to get to the moment where I feel like I’m figuring it out. – That and a I held my breath underwater for 3:12 once. Just once.
DA MAN: You have a really great website called halfadams.com. In an interview you said “Half Adams” is kind of like your online alter-ego. What do you mean by that?
Patrick J. Adams: It was a nickname that stuck with me from college. I never really identified with it but then as I started working more and spending a lot of time online trying to figure out how much I wanted to really engage with the onslaught of social media sites, especially in the wake of the success of Suits, I decided to kind of operate with a sort of pseudonym online. It’s a reminder for me, more than anything, that while the internet is such a fantastic tool for communication and curation, I should also be careful never to trust it with my whole self. I have a teacher who always says you have to keep one foot in one world and one foot in another at all times. So “half” of me is ready to play in the cyber sand box but the other half is just for me.
DA MAN: Your site has tons of great photos. How did you first get into photography?
Patrick J. Adams: I’ve just always been fascinated with captured moments. I’ve always been amazed how a story or a feeling or a conflict can be so effectively communicated in a single image. The fascination must have begun with photos of my family and of distant grandparents who I never knew but who were part of me. I poured over photos as a kid. I made books and made my parents tell me who everyone was. Then I started photographing my family and my life and my friends and then slowly started documenting the world and the things that stuck out to me. Shooting photos has always been a way for me to have a conversation with myself about the world around me. Sharing the photos with friends and online is then a way to deepen that conversation and welcome other people into it. But the joy of it comes with doing of it. The product of the work isn’t really vital to me yet.
DA MAN: Pretty sure this question has been asked to anyone who likes to take pictures: Canon or Nikon?
Patrick J. Adams: Hasselblad! I shoot with my Nikon d800 most of the time. And love it. Camera’s now are almost too good though. The resolution on these sensors is so insanely high and the automatic features so fast and sharp that the struggle to take a great photo has kind of been reduced to nothing. So recently I bought an old Hasselblad 501 medium format camera and have been shooting a lot of film just to sort of remind myself to slow down the process of shooting a little bit. It’s good to take your time and meter light and find the perfect place to stand and take a breath. That’s what made me fall in love with photography in the first place. I never want to lose that.
DA MAN: What would you say your favorite subject to shoot is?
Patrick J. Adams: Usually I am drawn to landscapes. Natural and urban. That’s why I have an obsession with the Burning Man festival in Nevada. It’s a breathtaking place where nature and art and people and architecture and community come together and it constantly challenges me as a photographer and a person to keep my eyes open and live in the moment, prepared for anything and everything to happen.
DA MAN: Besides Suits, do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Patrick J. Adams: I worked on a fun little short film together called The Come Up which is doing the festival circuit now but other than that I am just finishing up this season of Suits and making sure I am ready for whatever comes next. I’m excited for whatever it is.
Photographs: Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling: Lisette Mora
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