SUITS Interview: Sarah Rafferty talks Donna’s firing and what’s next!

What do you do when you’re on a hit show and you find out that your character is being fired?  SUITS’ Sarah Rafferty has had to deal with just that as her character Donna was let go recently for a mix up that initially was unintentional then got real when a shredder got involved.  In tonight’s all new episode of SUITS, we’ll find out where the story goes and what we might expect for the rest of this season (the episode also features a woman from Harvey’s past played by a woman from Gabriel Macht’s present – his wife Jacinda Barrett).

Sarah took some time out of her day to chat with us about what’s coming up for Donna, if she knows what kind of history Donna has with Harvey, and where it all goes from here!

I was talking to somebody today about SUITS, and how I loved it from minute one, but this season has taken that another step further, ramped up the tension, and I can’t get enough!
Oh good, I’m so glad to hear that.  I will report that straight back to our creator Aaron Korsh!

I love, also, the situation that’s happening for Donna, and the #SaveDonna campaign.  What can you tell us is coming up for this week and beyond that?
Oh we begin to see a strange relationship between Harvey and Donna ahead, because he didn’t fight for her, you know.

They’ve always had the strong relationship; she’s in on the secret of Mike right away.  What has it been like to play the ramifications of their breakdown?
It’s totally satisfying to play a different dynamic.  I love how well-established their symbiotic relationship is, and because it’s so well-established, I think that’s why, the creators, the writers and the creator, kind of earned the right to have it fall away for a little while, and have us care that it’s falling away.  It’s been exciting for Gabriel and I to play, because we’re continually surprised by the scenes and where they’re going with these characters.  Also, like when it gets complicated, it gets really real.  Really real.  They have this huge trust thing, it’s really complicated.

Walk me through what happens when you get the script or you heard “Donna’s fired.”
It’s kind of funny.  Before we went up to Toronto, all of the writers, the producers, and the actors had dinner one night, and I made some comment about Donna always being right because as far as we knew, Donna is always right.  She sort of has super powers or something, and when I said that, all of the writers sort of smirked, and started laughing to themselves, “except when she gets it wrong.”  I kind of was thrown by the energy at the table.  Like, what are you talking about?  Um, hello, have you ever met Donna?  You’re writing Donna! [laughs] .

There is also the great #SaveDonna campaign that’s going on – has it surprised you, the reaction it’s getting?  Has it been exciting to be a part of, and to see that coming to life?
Oh this is most surprising and totally exciting!  I was shocked!  It was so fun. When this hashtag SaveDonna came up, I was at work, and my sister was watching last week’s episode, and she texted me and told me that the hashtag SaveDonna was on screen while she was watching the show, and I just thought that was amazing.  It’s a total thrill for me.

This season, it’s been mixed up a little bit – the first season was about introducing everyone.  Harvey and Mike were primarily together; you and Harvey.  But now we’re seeing different people paired with others, and it’s still firing on all cylinders.  Has that also been exciting to spend more time with Patrick, and Gina?
Oh that’s great!  We all get really excited about that.  I thought last week’s episode when I watched it was so fulfilling in so many ways because it was great to see how Rachel and Louis connect when they’re at the ballet, because that was a dynamic that we haven’t seen.  For all of us, we all get excited to work with each other.  Last season, we had this great opportunity to have these fun scenes Rick Hoffman, with Louis, where we just kind of mess with each other, and now going forward, now that things are darker and messier at the firm, we get to have these scenes where things aren’t very copacetic between us.  It’s great.  You know, it sounds totally cliché.  Everybody in the cast feels like family, so any time I get to have a scene with any one of them, I’m thrilled.  I just love them, and admire them so much.

As a fan of the show, besides someone who is on the show, what is it that you find yourself drawn to, that makes you want to keep tuning in, besides obviously that you work there!
You know, I think I’m really excited about these characters.  The plots are really exciting, but I love how the plot is used to illuminate who these people are, and we just continue to go deeper and deeper and deeper with that.  Even just referencing back to Louis and Rachel – Rachel finds it in her heart to comfort Louis when he’s beside himself over the loss of his cat.  It’s pretty funny, but it’s also just really telling about who they are.  All of these people are just totally three dimensional people that I personally care about and want to know what’s going to happen to them next.  That’s why I like to watch it.

The conceit of the show initially is that Mike isn’t a lawyer, but he’s acting like one, and we’ve kind of gotten away from that this season, with the Daniel situation coming in.  Will we start to see that rear its head again, and focus more on what happens if people find out, as more find out?
You know, I don’t know, because I’m not that far ahead of you.  I’ve only read through episode 10.  I don’t know if that’s going to continue to be the thing.  I think, going back to what I was just saying, I think we’re moving towards going deeper into these people’s lives, instead of hanging on to that sort of piece of the plot, you know.  I mean, it’s always there.  It’s a huge part of Pearson Hardman, and who he is.  He can’t tell Rachel this piece of information.  All of that’s there, but as far as I can tell, with what is going to continue through the season, is going to a dark rough realm.  I haven’t read 11, I don’t know where it’s going from there, but I can tell you I’m very eager to get my hands on that script.

How much of a backstory for the characters to you have going into the show?  Do you know what the history is with Donna and Harvey, or do you know what we know?
I know what you guys know from day one, but have filled in the blanks for myself.  Then created the details of that for myself.  And have subsequently had a lot of conversations with Aaron about that backstory and checking to see if we’re on the same page.  As we go forward, there’s more and more references to Harvey and Donna’s past, and I have in my head what I think it is, and I just keep checking with Aaron to see if I’m still right, or there’s new information that I need to have [laughs].  Most of the time we’re on the same page and it’s really just kind of fun to talk about.  It’s kind of fun to speculate!

Do you get a chance to watch other shows?  Are there other shows you race to get off the DVR quickly?
Yeah, I do!  I was pregnant over our hiatus, so I had a chance, I have a 4 and a half year old, so I was running after her, but I had a chance to lay down a little bit, and I watched all of HOMELAND.  I watched all of DOWNTON ABBEY.  I watched NURSE JACKIE this year, because I think Edie Falco, everybody on that show is just amazing, and VEEP, and right now, I’m watching NEWSROOM.  Oh and I watched GIRLS.

You name all these shows, and to me, SUITS fits right in there – it’s not the light and fluffy we’re used to seeing on USA, it’s doing something a little darker, and it fits in these darker drama/comedy areas.  The list you name is literally my list too.
Is it?  What else do you have on your list?

I’m trying to think if there’s anything besides what you said.  I’ll be watching PARENTHOOD when that’s back.  Everything on USA, POLITICAL ANIMALS is great!  You name it, sounds like we’re watching the same stuff every week.
I’m pretty excited about NEWSROOM.  I’ve heard that there’s been negative reaction about NEWSROOM which I haven’t read, but I’m surprised by.  Have you read that?

I think there’s a big to do being made about Aaron Sorkin not writing well for women.
Oh god, I’m so into Olivia Munn and Allison Pill.  It’s so funny.  If he doesn’t write them well, then they just bring a lot to it!  I don’t know, I think everybody on that show is just amazing.

Do you have anything besides SUITS coming up – if you had a baby over hiatus, I’m thinking no? Ha!
[laughs] No!  I’m doing the Mommy Project on the side, so I’m kind of busy and tired and happy.  But no! [laughs]!