June 4, 2024

Suits ATX/Tudum Panel with Jeff Wachtel

Business News

June 4, 2024


Patricks J. Adams, Sarah Rafferty, Dulé Hill, Amanda Schull, Abigail Spencer, and Jeff Wachtel standing together on stage in front of an audience.
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  • JUNE 4, 2024

Happy Suits Sunday, folks.

Shortly after the announcement that Suits Season 9 will be released on Netflix in July (along with the first eight seasons), ATX TV Festival closed out its long weekend of events with a Suits reunion panel packed with laughs, recurring bits, and behind-the-scenes stories. The guests included Patrick J. Adams, Sarah Rafferty, Dulé Hill, Amanda Schull, and Abigail Spencer, along with former president of USA Network Jeff Wachtel.

The electrifying bunch divulged freely while answering questions, providing a hefty case file’s worth of compelling revelations. So, Suits lovers, let’s dive into some golden nuggets you might not know, from auditions and a new podcast to the alternate industry Suits was originally going to be about.

The cast of ‘Suits’ at the ATX TV Festival 2024.

1. Sarah Rafferty and Patrick J. Adams have a Suits podcast on the way. Its title will be Sidebar: A Suits Watch Podcast, and Adams emphasizes the “watch” in the title. “We’re not calling it a ‘rewatch podcast,’ because we are watching it for the first time together, and we are recording a podcast that’s documenting that journey. It’s going to be coming out really soon.”

2. Abigail Spencer, who plays Dana Scott, was only supposed to be in one episode. “[Casting director] Bonnie Zane and [creator] Aaron [Korsh] called me and [were] like, ‘I wrote this role with you in mind.’ I got a DVD sent to me, and Bonnie Zane said, ‘Just watch it. I know it hasn’t aired yet, but I think it’s really special.’ And she was right. I watched it, and I had just done a stint on Mad Men and I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s Mad Men for lawyers.’ ”

3. Amanda Schull, who plays Katrina Bennett, originally auditioned for the role of Rachel Zane. “I won’t forget this because I was really excited,” Schull recalls. “I really liked the writing of it. The audition was Rachel Zane just banging out a monologue, showing Mike where things were. ‘This is this and that’s that.’ I was so nervous I could actually see my heart beating in my dress. I didn’t do a great job.”

Despite feeling it wasn’t her strongest audition, Schull got another opportunity. “Bonnie called me back. To think that a casting director could have enough faith to bring you back because they know that you’re more than the pit stains you were that day. That’s so much more support than we sometimes feel we’re given [as actors]. I didn’t get the job, but then I actually went in for every single female guest star there was. That’s not an exaggeration: I went in for every single female guest star, the whole first season and then half of the second season. And then I got a call that they had written a role with me in mind, and I still had to audition for it.”

4. Suits originated as a screenplay about Wall Street. Wachtel revealed that Korsh had written the series as a film about Wall Street. “Aaron had been an investment banker and actually made a little bit of money in his twenties. He took the little money he had in the bank, drove out to California [and] worked as a writer’s assistant on seven shows until finally somebody said, ‘Yeah, you’re pretty good. I’ll give you a gig as an actual writer.’ My junior development guy at the time, Alex Sepiol, said, ‘This is not a writing sample. This is something we should do.’

“It was interesting because the development process was very difficult. Every year we had our development meetings, and Alex would go, ‘Let’s do Aaron’s show.’ And he was voted down. And he was voted down [again]. The third year [they said], ‘Alright, let’s give it a shot.’ ”

5. Suits originally had a different name. Adams explains that at the time he was being cast, not only did the show have an alternate title, it was also about a different line of work. “It was called A Legal Mind. Originally the show was about accountants.”

6. The title Suits was born from a contest. Wachtel motivated his peers to come up with a usable name for the series, recalling, “We offered a 100 dollar Starbucks card to everybody in the organization who could come up with a title. Alex [Sepiol], a development exec, won the prize. He named the show, which at first [I] was like, ‘Suits? Really?’ I wasn’t sure. We were desperate. I mean, it said Untitled Aaron Korsh, and we were like, ‘Guys, at some point that’s not going to look good on the billboard.’ And we ended up with the title. I think it was just kind of perfect for the show.”

7. A co-star was the one who told Sarah Rafferty to audition. “I had just done a pilot. This is the story that we all share: [do] the pilot, and then you find out it doesn’t get picked up.” Rafferty describes a scenario that resonates with her fellow actors.

“I was going to my friend’s premiere that night, and I hang up the phone having [received the] news that suddenly I didn’t have the job. This friend said to me, ‘Great, I just signed on to do a show. I’m going to email you the script when I get home. Promise me, promise me you will audition. Promise me. It looks like a really small part, but I know they’re going to make it into a series regular.’ That friend was Gabriel [Macht].”

8. Macht and Adams never did a chemistry read. “We never sat in a room and read lines together,” Adams recalls. “The first time I met Gabriel was after we’d both been cast and we went out to lunch. We were like, ‘Hi, how are you? We’re going to do this thing.’ It was not an exciting lunch. It was just two guys praying the other one wasn’t a complete dick. ‘Please let him be cool. Please let him be cool.’

The cast of ‘Suits’ at the ATX TV Festival 2024.

“He’d done a ton of work, and he was a movie star in a lot of ways. He’s done a lot of huge films. And we were coming at it from the Harvey/Mike perspective. I was coming in going, ‘I need to fight for every moment, because I don’t know that I’m going to be able to do this for a living. If this thing doesn’t work out, I don’t know if I have anything.’ It was just sort of desperate hunger. Whereas for Gabriel, he was like, ‘I guess I’ll do this. We’ll see.’ ”

Well, there you have it, Suits fans — that’s a lot to chew on while you brace yourself for Season 9 on Netflix. But if you’re looking for more, you can watch the full panel above.

Storytellers welcome.