Suits stars Rick Hoffman and Sarah Rafferty on playing the fool in the hit legal drama
HANDING a man his balls is something her TV alter ego – power personal assistant Donna Paulsen – does on a daily basis in the sexy hit series Suits.
But when actor Sarah Rafferty gave a pair of kangaroo testicles to her co-star Rick Hoffman – as a souvenir of their recent trip to Sydney together – they were received with love and laughs.
Back on the Toronto set last week, Hoffman is still chuckling as he tells TV Guide how much he treasures the trinket and his relationship with Rafferty.
“I actually have them in my drawer, next to my bed ... that’s how much luck they have brought me,” Hoffman boasts. “Some people say prayers at night ... all I do is open the drawer, look at those roo balls and that’s all I need.”
Their cheeky banter is almost a character in itself on the show, now in its seventh season and going strong.
From the pilot episode, when the headstrong Donna gets the better of Hoffman’s agitated attorney, Louis Litt, their comic timing and nonsexual chemistry has sizzled.
“I can go back to the first day that we received pages,” Rafferty explains, “when there was a Donna and Louis dynamic in that very first scene ... when he asked [her boss] Harvey if he could borrow Donna and Harvey [Gabriel Macht] said, ‘You’re going to have to ask for yourself’ ... Donna just completely messed with him. That was the day that Rick and I were like, ‘Oh, I think we’re out of the gates with this ...’ and the friendship has only grown from there.”
The comedy is a perfect counter to the legal drama, but this duo have something that sparks well beyond what’s on the page.
“It’s when we improvise that we both can’t keep it together [laughing],” Hoffman says. “When they allow us to improvise and me to act like a goofball, that usually sets off Sarah. “Gabriel has a serious condition,” he adds. “He looks at my face and it doesn’t matter what expression I have on it and he’ll start laughing at my face. He just gets the giggles and I start making fun of him and then that makes me laugh, it makes him laugh more and we pretty much take the piss out of each other for about 10 minutes, then it’s back to work. That’s the kind of fun we have.” Rafferty’s feisty performance has made her character an inspiration for many women: either because of her unrequited love for Harvey; or more significantly, her confidence and competence at her job. “I got a tweet from somebody who said, ‘Because of Donna, I hold my back a little straighter in the office,’ ... or ‘My boss said I just Donna-ed that’, using her name as a verb, which is pretty funny,” Rafferty says. Encouraging women to stand tall in their power, the mother of two girls and one of four sisters says “is pretty gratifying right now, especially in the current political environment and we’re going to continue on that journey with her this season”. Hoffman’s Louis is equally iconic among Suits fans, who love how he overcomes his small man syndrome to triumph in court, and on the rare occasion, in love. As the series returns, Hoffman reveals “we find him getting over a break-up and it’s Louis, so the break-up does not make him easy at work.” While their co-star Meghan Markle has drawn much attention to the show because of her royal romance with Prince Harry, the show’s most popular relationship – the unresolved sexual tension between Donna and Harvey – is still about the tease, Rafferty says. “It’s that slow burn. Who knows how long we’re going to draw it out?”
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