EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Patrick J. Adams Talks Playing Mike Ross on 'Suits' and the Secret to the Show's Success

Patrick J. Adams stars as Mike Ross in Suits.
Patrick J.Adams' character Mike Ross makes his long-awaited return to Pearson Specter tonight at 9 ET/PT on USA's Suits, as the fourth season continues. Relationships have been tested, but as Adams notes about the series, "The show is about family to some degree. It's a modern American mythic corporate setting but that's what so many people relate to now is the companies they work for in some way are their family. We spend more time at work than we do at home these days. When we’re fighting for the firm we relate to it as a family. As a group of people that we are tied to and that we must defend. It’s about honor, it's about trust, it's about protecting the people that you love and having them protect you when you’re needed."

Serial Scoop recently caught up with Adams to discuss the secret of Suits success, Mike's relationships with Rachel (Meghan Markle) and Harvey (Gabriel Macht), and lessons learned during his career. Read our exclusive interview below:

SERIAL SCOOP: Mike Ross is finally returning to Pearson Specter. How is this going to change some of his core relationships on the series?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: It's going to change each one differently. Obviously he is in a tough place with Rachel, and given that she wants to become a real legitimate lawyer, that's always going to weigh heavily on their shoulders. It's probably going to change Mike and Harvey's relationship for the better because every time they go through a hardship it seems to really bring them together. And I think his relationship with Jessica (Gina Torres) is something I'm particularly interested in now because while she trusts him and actually likes having him at the firm because he's a value and an asset, he's also a huge liability. I think we've seen him now leave and come back which says to her that he's not planning on going anywhere anytime soon and he is going to fight to keep his position there so it creates a lot of conflict between the two of them.

SERIAL SCOOP: Mike and Rachel, are those two ever going to get it together?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: They did last year...moved in together and they had their place. Then this thing happens this year with Logan (Brendan Hines). It represents how tough it is when the past sneaks into any relationship. Decisions you made back in the day; suddenly you’re forced to deal with them all over again.

Mike has some serious trust issues obviously so somebody like Logan, who is very successful with a lot of money, family ties and very important, is a huge threat to him. He needed to know it was going to be okay, and Rachel was very confused seeing that Mike was not really himself anymore and doing all of these things that go against his character. She got caught up in a moment of something and it happened and now it's about forgiveness which I think is good for the character.

Ultimately it's hard for the fans to watch that happen, but I think conflict and drama are good. It's interesting to watch characters have to deal with the concept of forgiveness and realizing that some things are not as important than other things and it doesn’t have to necessarily destroy a relationship.

It would be really easy for our show to just have them totally break up forever and not speak to each other again or go their separate ways. We're dealing with these characters really trying to make amends and get back to each other after a little bit of betrayal. Having their crap together wouldn't be particularly interesting to watch at the end of the day. As actors we're always going into the work trying to figure out what's the conflict and what is it we're trying to overcome, rather than how we do we get along and be happy. You got to see Rachel and Mike fall in love for three seasons, so you have to sort of test that or otherwise it will get stale.

SERIAL SCOOP: What will happen with Mike and Harvey?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: It strengthens them having been a part from each other and now coming back. I am curious, too, to see what happens because we saw Mike go toe to toe with Harvey and, even though he lost, there were a lot of little mini moments that he won. It says he is ready for the big time. If he can go toe to toe with Harvey which we've pretty much consistently seen very few people capable of doing, that says Mike is ready for more responsibility and capable of holding his own against the best of the best. For me and my perspective when talking to the writers I don’t want to lose that, even though Mike is now back. Even though he ultimately lost that interaction we have to do justice to the fact that he is quickly becoming a contemporary and somebody who can hold his own with Harvey, rather than just being the guy who hands him his paperwork and stands next to him while he does all the great work.

They have different strengths. They are becoming a team rather than just a mentorship. I don't know how that is going to play itself out but over the seasons you can see more and more of the hardening of that unit and now that we’ve seen Mike being away eight episodes there’s no really coming between these two. They are a team and if you have them both in a room there’s nothing they can’t accomplish together; that’s what I hope. And hopefully more fun.

It was tough to really play some of the banter as things got more serious between them. I think Gabriel and I are happy to be back in the same place where we can have that sense of humor to come back into the show without losing the stakes. We love playing the drama of the scenes, and always look for them. We never intended for a "bromance" to happen, that was all a byproduct of us wanting to be comfortable with each other and to be able to play with each other and mix it. So hopefully we find a way to keep balancing the stakes of our situation and the emotional weight of the situation while at the same time make stupid jokes and quote movies and have a good time.

SERIAL SCOOP: Is that how you and Gabriel Macht keep things fresh?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: We are always trying to make each other laugh. We are always trying to figure out how to elevate it a little bit, how to do something different than we have ever done before. A lot of shows sort of become the same joke over and over again and if the joke works, that's great. But to keep it interesting for us on a daily basis we are constantly trying to figure out what we can possibly do next that might make it something new.

SERIAL SCOOP: You're directing an episode of Suits later on in the season?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: We don’t know which for one for sure yet, but at the end of this season. I've been shadowing for the last couple of years. I'm so excited, so excited.

Patrick J. Adams as Michael Ross — Photo Credit: Shane
Mahood/USA Network
SERIAL SCOOP: What is the secret of Suits' success?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: The people. I don’t know how anything succeeds without a group of really passionate engaged people. You need everybody to care, come to work and put their own crap aside and get down to work. That’s what everybody on Suits has really done since minute one. Even the people that come in just to do a couple of weeks on the show. There’s something about it that people care about and they want to do it right. I think there’s a feedback loop between the fans, the people who love the show, the more we get that, the more we go, "oh this actually means something to people." It bounces itself back and fourth.

SERIAL SCOOP: If you could go back to the beginning of your career and give yourself a piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what it would be?
PATRICK J. ADAMS: Trust your instincts. It's something that young people in general have a tough time doing. It would be something I would go back and try and instill in myself as a young man. You have to trust what your impulse tells you. If we don't do that than we get lost and mixed up and start living our lives according to what other people tell us to do. And as an actor especially you get a lot of people in your life who say you should be this way, you shouldn't do it that way, cut your hair this way, dress this way, talk like this, be like this, and I think you follow that for too long and then you get to the end and you realize you have nothing to talk about. I think I came dangerously close to doing that for awhile trying to impress a lot of people or be something other than what I was. As soon as I started being who I felt I was and being interested in the things I was and not being ashamed of that, work just came. It was easier that way. It's never easy, you are always going to have to push for it, but it has to come out of your own heart otherwise it’s not going to work.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Be sure to tune into Suits on Wednesday, August 6th at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In "Exposure," Mike has returned to Pearson Specter, but barely has time to savor it – he’s back to working shoulder-to-shoulder with Rachel, in the wake of her confession about Logan. Jessica and Harvey try to outmaneuver the relentless Sean Cahill, as he goes after the firm’s files on the Gillis Industries takeover. And Louis struggles to hide the illicit deal he made to win that fight; evidence of which will bury the firm.

Michael Goldberg is a freelance writer, producer and actor based out of New York. He regularly contributes television and web series features to Serial Scoop.

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