411mania Interviews: Rick Hoffman (Suits)
Posted by Al Norton on 06.11.2014
411's Al Norton sits down for an exclusive interview with Suits star Rick Hoffman.
Rick Hoffman has been bringing TV audiences memorable characters for years, with critically acclaimed work on Jake in Progress, The Bernie Mac Show, The $treet, Philly, and Samantha Who?, but he's become best known for his portrayal of Louis Litt on Suits, which begins its fourth season tonight.
Rick Hoffman: I cannot thank you enough for the Norty Award last year. I was blown away by that.
Al Norton: It was well deserved. I know you guys don't do it for the awards but is there ever any frustration that your cast mates and the writers and the show itself seem to be ignored when it comes to nominations from the big awards giving bodies?
Rick Hoffman: Oh no, absolutely not. We're very, very proud of each other and really, really happy, understanding how lucky we are to have a show this good on the air, and that's plenty.
Al Norton: Yesterday's Gone from season three was not only the best episode Suits has done, it was one of the best hours of dramatic TV of the year.
Rick Hoffman: Thank you so much. That definitely closed that chapter…for now. We're proud of all of these episodes, Al, and we're always sort of looking at each other wondering when this incredible train that we're on is going to stop, but the writers keep putting them out there for us. Those last six episodes of season three, we were all especially proud of those, for sure.
Al Norton: We've talked before about some of the great Harvey – Louis moments during the show and Yesterday's Gone had another of those. How do you and Gabriel (Macht) work those out before because the timing is always perfect and the emotion always seems so real?
Rick Hoffman: It's really gotten to a point where there is this shorthand that we have between each other. I think it comes down to a mutual respect for each other's work and also that we both like to listen as actors – the whole cast does. That's what makes the six characters work so well, that the actors have this deep respect for one another's work.
Al Norton: When the show is in the middle of a multi-season run there are obviously changes the writers come up with to keep things fresh, like having one case be the focus of multiple episodes, but what happened at the end of season three was a huge change for Suits.
Rick Hoffman: Yes, a bold choice and I loved it. I found it to be believable and interesting and it sets up for many potential stories for the fourth season.
Al Norton: Not that you're not always clamoring for the next script but was it more so with this new season?
Rick Hoffman: I have been that way since season one. I really can't speak for anyone else but as an actor who has struggled, when you are a part of a show that lasts, there's just this deep appreciation for the job, and then on top of that a really good job with great writing, it's just Christmas all the time. You're getting to do what you love around people you genuinely respect. It's a unique situation that I am in and I am going to bore you with how nauseatingly happy I am (laughing). If you want something interesting, you're asking the wrong guy.
Al Norton: From when you showed up on set that first day to shoot the pilot, how is Louis different now from who you thought he was then?
Rick Hoffman: I am still, to this day, even reading episodes for season four, I am constantly surprised by the dimensional writing that goes on with each character and how just when you think there's a storyline that's going to be not so surprising, they turn around and surprise the hell out of you. I am sometimes elated for my character and other times miserable and heartbroken for him. I've never had an experience like this before, probably because I've never been a part of something for this long a period of time. We get to see these characters grow, see them get stunted in their growth; it's basically like you're living with these imaginary friends and you fall in love with them. Just like in relationships, you have to deal with the hardships as well as with the wonderful moments.
Al Norton: How much "You Just Got Litt Up" paraphernalia do you own?
Rick Hoffman: (Laughs) I personally own none. None! My parents own a bunch and some of my friends have admitted they have a coffee mug here and there. I admit that before this job I was a bit judgmental about catchphrases and the shows that had them and now I am like, "wait, what are you talking about, I've always thought catchphrases are cool."
Al Norton: What's your interaction with Suits fans been like?
Rick Hoffman: Wonderful. It's amazing to see how the show has grown over 3 seasons. We started off with no one knowing anything about the show and now it's showing up anywhere and people coming up to you wide eyed, asking to take a picture or to talk to you about the show. It's another rare privilege as an actor to have this experience, with real fans that love the show and appreciate the work. If you're an actor and you can't appreciate this sort of thing, get out of the business now.
Al Norton: Has your skin fully recovered from all those slaps?
Rick Hoffman: (Laughing) Yes but shortly afterwards Patrice who does my makeup bought me some skin care products seeing that I get into those situations from time to time. And I'll tell you, my skin feels a lot better since.
Al Norton: What are you watching on TV these days?
Rick Hoffman: Fargo. I don't know how they were able to, within the first four to seven minutes of that first episode, completely take you out of the comparison of the movie and yet enjoy it just as much. It's so great. I am trying to catch up with Orphan Black. I was envious of Patrick's (J Adams) guest spot; a lot of us are trying to get on that show. Those two right now and I am about to start watching True Detective.
Al Norton: What can you tell me about the new season of Suits?
Rick Hoffman: I really can't say much about the season but if I were to give you a one sentence description it would be, "you can't change who you are as a person and because of that, you may either thrive or fail."
Don't miss the season premiere of Suits, tonight at 9pm on USA