OTB Interviews: Meghan Markle
After a series of minor roles in the likes of CSI: Miami, Get Him To The Greek and Horrible Bosses, Meghan Markle has established herself as plucky paralegal Rachel Zane in hit US TV show Suits. This week she returns to British screens in the second season of the dynamic legal drama, which begins on Dave on Thursday.
What can Suits fans expect from the new season?
We were all really happy with how season one turned out, and now season two gets even better. There is a lot of turbulence at Pearson Hardman [the law firm where Suits is set], but for Rachel there is a lot of growth and struggle, both professionally and personally. I think it’s definitely our most dynamic season yet – it’s sexy and funny and fans will be really happy.
We also get to see more of the characters’ lives beyond the office. We see more of Mike Ross, we meet Rachel’s family and get an understanding of where she comes from, we see her relationship with Donna outside the office and we even get to see some of Jessica’s life beyond the boardroom. It’s really cool to stretch the perimeters and see that, as with real life, they are very different people away from a professional environment.
Season one set up what looks likely to be an on-off saga between Rachel and Mike. How will that develop?
He really puts her through the wringer this season. As an actor it was exciting to watch how it was written, but as a woman I read the script and called Aaron [Korsh, Suits’ creator] to ask “why has she got to put up with this?” The arc of the season for these two is more than just a game of cat and mouse – Mike loves the chase, but then he gets easily distracted.
They definitely become a lot closer, as Mike deals with a lot of unforeseen personal matters and Rachel is there for him, but then he seems to forget that so quickly and has quite the wandering eye. It’s definitely a tough season for Rachel, but in its latter half she gets to show how strong she is.
Suits has been a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. What would you attribute its success to?
It’s incredible to see how it’s doing globally. I was in Hong Kong doing press for the show, and it was amazing to realise that the show has struck a chord with people not just in the States but also in places like Asia, South America and the UK. I can only say that is down to the strength of its characters, which are always the test of any show’s success.
With Suits it’s not necessarily that they are in the cool situation of a law firm, it’s that you could take these same people and put them in a hospital or a school and it would be just as interesting, because you actually care about them and want to see how their lives develop.
The show has been renewed for a third season. Can you confirm that you will be returning as Rachel?
Yes. We are all heading back to Toronto in March to begin eight months of filming season three. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her – there is so much for her to have to unravel after things with Mike come to a head. My only fear concerns Rachel’s dream to go to Havard, and if she goes there it is obviously not New York, so there is no way to reconcile exactly what it is that she wants and still be at Pearson Hardman.
One of Suits’ biggest strengths is its snappy dialogue. Is that something the cast works on developing?
I think there’s a combination of things. We are given dialogue that really is quick, witty and interesting, but we are also given the liberty to improvise quite a bit. Because we are all so close outside of the show and spend all of our time together off camera as well, there is a natural rhythm in the way that we can joke around and have these quips with one another – it’s how we are in real life.
I think it’s those moments that take it over the edge and make it feel really special. We are lucky to have a creator like Aaron who accepts there are certain moments where we’ll know our characters more than he does. He knows we spend every day just with them, whereas in the writers’ room he is focused more on the big picture and the arc of the story each week.
How much do you appreciate role like Rachel, which places as much emphasis on her intellect as it does on her beauty?
I love that. When people ask what we have in common I say we are both very ambitious and we both pride ourselves on being educated. I love that so much of her prowess is intellectual and that her look and the clothes are just secondary, and I think that what Mike is drawn to is that she is wickedly smart and has this encyclopaedic knowledge of the law.
You were once a model on the US version of Deal Or No Deal. How easy was it to break free from a male-oriented notion of how young women should appear on screen?
I’d actually been acting for a number of years before I did Deal Or No Deal. They asked me to work on it for the first season and I said no, and then by the second season I decided that instead of taking a waitress job as most actresses do to pay the bills, it was a great way to accomplish that. It was a good experience and I learnt quite a bit, but it was tough for me because I’m not and never have been a model.
To be in that framework, where you are treated as such, was challenging. Even beyond Deal Or No Deal, in Hollywood scripts where you’re playing ‘the girl’ or ‘the love interest’ it’s not often that you’ll find these characters have many layers to them, specifically intelligence. So when I read the script for Suits I called my agent to emphasise how much I wanted the part.
Is that lack of depth a result of there still not being enough women in senior positions in the industry?
I think we are seeing things evolve in a big way. There are so many shows now that have a strong female lead. In terms of an ensemble cast, I have noticed that you’ll maybe have one smart female character, but often she’s not the package of beautiful, driven and smart, and not such an interesting part of the ensemble.
What we are fortunate in with Suits is that Aaron made three incredibly strong and dynamic female characters. In Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty I can’t think of two more beautiful women to work with, inside and out, but again their external beauty is so secondary to the wit and power their characters have.
On Twitter you describe yourself as a foodie. How would you rate your culinary skills?
I would love to take more cooking classes, but I would say that out of ten I am probably a seven. Not at chef level – I’m mean as a home cook. I cook almost every single night and I love playing around with recipes. On set we’ll have potlucks on Sunday nights at each other’s houses and I try to take on as many different dishes as possible. I’ve never yet seen someone unhappy with the food I’ve made, I will say that.
After graduating, you worked in the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. Any plans to give the White House your CV now Hillary Clinton is quitting her foreign policy role?
I would have to say: no, I am currently quite happy with my position at the moment, and the politics of this industry are a lot more fulfilling for me at the moment. But you never know. Ask me again in a few years – never say never.
Season Two of Suits begins on Dave Thursday 24 January at 9pm