On the Set of SUITS | Aaron Korsh

by Tillie Eze

How early do we find who turned Mike in?
We’re going to figure it out, but not make it a massive man-hunt or a massive search to find that out.

So we know it’s a big deal for Mike, of course, but can you talk about how it sends some of the other characters into a tail spin?
Absolutely. The approach of the back six was, and I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but they … it was pitched to me that the back six would be, they’re going to come after Mike and we’re going to fight this thing. I was like, how can we ever fight this thing? He did it! He’s guilty. There’s no fighting it. One of the writers, who happens to have been a lawyer, Chris Downey, made the case. He’s in the Harvard database. He’s been practicing law.

There is a series of things that you can say, and then we thought about, you know, there have been many, many cases in history where you’ve been positive that the person did it, and they got off! We ended up incorporating again … What I try to do is sometimes incorporate different points of view and put them in the scenes. If I’ve got a point of view and somebody else has a point of view, and we have a strong argument about it, let’s have our characters have an argument about it. I kind of took Mike’s side, and he’s like, Harvey, we can’t get out of this thing, what the fuck is wrong with you, and Harvey says what was told to me, and it’s very convincing, so we decide to fight it for the back six. So that was initially pitched to me was, the back six is kind of like fighting it and then we have a conclusion of it. I didn’t think it would last all that long. I didn’t it would do it, and at first I wasn’t going to do that, but we gave it a shot.

So, the idea is that this woman, Anita Gibbs, who is the prosecutor for Mike is going to come after us, and we’re going to fight her, tooth and nail. She’s not dirty; I don’t feel like she’s dirty, but she puts pressure points on, like real people do. They go after the people that are the most likely to turn on you for whatever reasons they may be. She’ll come after Rachel … she’s going to come after the different people and put pressure on them all. The back six is about the pressure and the investigation into Mike.

How much time is covered over this six? We heard from Gina that it was about two to three weeks, so is that for you what it’s about, this whole six episodes is about two to three weeks since the moment he gets arrested?
Might be. It might be four or five, you know we’re kind of fluid with time. Yeah, it’s not months, and it’s not days. I haven’t gone specifically and done the timeline. In parts of it, you jump ahead a little bit, kind of into the middle of something. We don’t specifically say how long that was, so if you think it’s two weeks, then the whole thing is probably four to six weeks.  If you think it’s a few days, then it’s probably more closer to three weeks, so something like that.

How do you guys make that decision in the room, to bring back certain characters, and what’s it like for you to have all these established characters that you can pull from in times like this?
It’s outstanding to have. I mean, the only negative to it is they’re all great actors so they all have a lot of other jobs and it’s very difficult to schedule them, and that’s why we’re working on the weekend, this weekend. That’s the only downside is, they’re all so good, and sometimes we want them and we can’t have them, and it really sucks! But that aside, they’re so great, so it’s a great asset to have.

I think I’ve spoken about one of my favorite shows is “Justified.” And I’ve noticed that in “Justified” they do that a lot … like they need something, they bring in an old character that’s a favorite, and they can both advance the story point and also have an emotional scene because they have these deep rich characters that you remember, and great actors.  That’s great, and then what we do … Different characters just pop into my mind, and the writer’s too. They’ll pitch me things, and sometimes we’ll think, should it be this character that does that, or this character, and we just talk it out. Whatever feels to fit … seems to fit right, we do.

What I try to avoid, but am not always successful at this. I try not to have just one scene with a character, because I feel sometimes having more than one scene is better. It builds a little bit more. Sometimes we can’t do that, and there’s a character that like, we need one thing from them. We go to them. We get it or we don’t, whatever. That’s kind of how that works. You know, obviously, this is an opportunity to bring people back from the past because there are people in the past that know about Mike and know his secret, and they’re going to come to the fore. That’s going to be part of fighting it, is making sure they don’t get to those people, or those people will lawyer up, or … you’ve got to find out what’s what, moving forward.

You obviously knew this point was coming when you started the series. Why now?
Um…the short answer is, sometimes just in your gut, you’re like, it’s time. I can think it through, and a lot of times I just have a gut feel and we do it. But then we’ll talk about it, and I’ll try to figure out why that gut feel is happening. I think it was just, it’s enough. It’s enough, and it had to happen at some point.

I think when we were talking about the whole 5/10, and we just thought, the irony gives it up just a little bit too late. We thought, you know, we’ve done a lot of power struggles in the firm, and we’ve done a lot of Mike’s secret, and we wanted to shake things up.

One of things was, it scares the shit out of me to do something like this. We’re going to do some things in the finale that really scare me. Every season at the end of the season, we do something that scares the shit out of me. This is probably the worst since season 1, maybe? It’s always paid off, so we ended up having this philosophy, or I developed this philosophy, if it doesn’t scare the shit out of me, we’re just going to end up doing the same thing, and being a little boring. So, let’s do it and if for some reason it’s bad, then it’ll be bad, but we just had to just go for it, and we’re doing it.

Guilty or not guilty, Mike’s character can never return to what he once was. What does this mean for the show moving forward into a sixth season?
Shit. I have to go figure that out. (laughs) That’s a joke, but it’s half not a joke, right? What happens is that at the end of the year, you know, we get to ten. We’re so empty by the time we get to ten, that the last six are almost like in a haze and we just have to do … We have to pick something and just do it. Right now, we’re shooting some scenes tomorrow that I’ve questions, should we do the opposite of what we’re doing?

So next year, we’ll have to figure it out. We’ll have to figure out what this means and what happens. We’ve got a lot of potential twists and turns in terms of plot-wise, what it means. But what it means for these people’s characters is … It means, I guess what you say. Nothing’s ever going to be the same again.

So, how it can be different. We’ll just have to discuss it, and think about it and I don’t know what the answer is, but it really gives a lot of possibility to just change the direction of the show in a lot of ways.

Going off of that. You said, this type of sentence doesn’t require 50 years of jail time. So, what’s the worst case scenario for Mike in this situation?
The worst case scenario for Mike, in my opinion, is seven years in jail.

At least the way it was shot, in that finale, in that moment where he’s arrested, we don’t really see anyone else in the office except for Rachel. So, how long is it going to take for the news to trickle out to the rest of the firm, beyond our key players? Like, will the entire firm learn about this quickly; will it be a slow?
It’s fast. Word gets out in this legal community, because it’s not a secret. No one’s keeping it a secret that he has been arrested. The authorities aren’t keeping it a secret. It’s the type of thing where, ironically, I think it was a week or two ago, somebody was just accused of not having a law degree, and he’s a general counsel of some yeah, yeah. Which again, you know, over the years I’ve heard a lot of times that there’s no possible way anybody could get away with this thing, and this is like the fifth fake lawyer that’s happened … in the course of the show.

Yes, exactly. I would always say, look, as I said, Bernie Madoff committed this. I think I said this on a podcast. Bernie Madoff committed a massively bigger fraud, for, I don’t know, a decade at least. Ironically, I used to work, for three and a half years, like in the same building that he did. Never, never had known of him then. He not only got away with it for all that time … I think it was ten years before he got caught, someone went to the SEC and said, “This guy’s a fraud” and they didn’t listen. So, it is possible to perpetrate frauds for a long period of time. I’ve managed to convince people that I know what I’m doing for five years (laughs). Anyway, that’s the thing, but the firm knows; people know, people know quickly.

Can you talk about how it affects Harvey?
Absolutely. Over the course of the six, you know, look. Harvey’s going to feel responsible for doing this to Mike. People are going to kind of be forced to confront the choices they made, for good and bad. We’ve seen in the past, you know, Harvey being willing to take a hit for Mike, and we’ve seen Mike being willing to take a hit for Harvey, so there is going to be elements of that. If they’re lucky, nobody will have to take the hit for either one. In that way … Also as the investigation starts to touch on the other four members of our main cast, that will affect Harvey and all of them and their relationships. It’s definitely going to affect the way … it’s going to realign the way people are interacting with each other in the back six. It’s going to have ramifications on everyone.

Can you talk a bit about the role of religion in the show? Obviously you use it as an overlying but can you talk about why you did that, and how that plays into it?
I’m trying to remember where it came from, because I just remember … sometimes the year becomes a blur to me, but I remember in 5/10, my basic overarching thing was, however we were, I said look, “I want Harvey to be wrestling with this decision, the one he was wrestling with, and Mike to be wrestling with his decision.” I didn’t know what form those things would take and I said, listen, I think we can really make use of some flashbacks in this thing.

I can’t remember how the idea of the priest came up, but when we collectively came up with it … and I might not even have been there at all when they came up with it, but once we kind of locked into it, I just thought it was awesome. I’m not a particularly religious person, but I feel like people are and it’s very powerful in their lives. It just kind of happened, and the notion that, you know, Mike having sort of a cleaving of his belief system when his parents were killed, it seems like that would happen to somebody. Certainly a guy … people that are really smart can also be really cynical, and sometimes they cannot be cynical, but when tragedy strikes, it’s just an easy way for that to happen. So, that’s just kind of how it came out.

I guess it was just like the idea was presented to me, and I liked it. Then we just kind of feel our way through. We don’t always … most of the time I don’t think, this is what I’d like to have happen, and then just do it. Most of the time something just feels right and then we do it. This was what I was saying to the other question. I’ll think, oh, this is maybe why I was feeling that way, but really, it’s more just a gut feel that we just go with it. There is some more … a little bit more religious stuff coming in the back six … not massive amounts.

Stay tuned for the remaining interviews. If you missed the previous ones, they are linked below for easy access.
Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson)
Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross)
Sarah Rafferty (Donna Paulsen)
Gabriel Macht (Harvey Specter)
Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane)

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