On the Set of SUITS | Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane)

by Tillie Eze

Mike’s secret and the damage it could do has always been a point of contention in his relationship with Rachel, but it doesn’t seem like it could get any bigger than this. Does it shake her?
Rachel is little miss stand-by-your-man with the exception of the whole Logan thing. These back six are really interesting because… Yes, I’ve come to just love Rachel and really connect to the character in so many different ways, but I think as a cast all of us have these moments of “What is she doing? She’s going to throw away all of the… The stakes are so high that she could potentially ruin the future that is so perfectly laid out for her with the Zane of it all.” I think in the way that our writers have always been so skilled at being able to just keep you guessing and dial it up just a little bit more. They’ve done just that in these six.

Speaking of breaking points, how do you parents take the news?
I think Laura Zane, as she’s sort of been through the entire time on this show, is… Rachel’s their only child and she’s their baby girl. It has really been interesting to watch what it does for Rachel’s relationship with her mom and then, of course, for Robert Zane. It’s a really cool dynamic to watch, and I have some more scenes with Wendell this weekend.

At what point were you informed that the Mike choice was going to happen? Was it when you read the script, or did Aaron tell you ahead of time?
When I read the script. The script that we’re shooting right now, which we received Tuesday at one o’clock in the morning. Right when I got to set the next day… It was 7 AM LA time. I waited and I called him, and I was like, “Aaron, what? This is not what we talked about.” He’s like, “I know. We changed it three days ago.” “Okay.” I think it’s really interesting. I think I’ve now learned that it’s almost like living in real life for these characters because we’re experiencing it as we’re going through it, as we’re going through each page of it, as opposed to having some trajectory laid out in our heads. I was surprised.

How does that affect the acting choices that you’re making if you think one thing is going to happen and it gets changed abruptly?
I think we have all have a very different technique. We’re all… I’m trying to think of all of us… All of us went to theater school, so we’re all classically trained. There is something about about… For me I’m much more comfortable just going like, “Well, let’s just see what happens.” Maybe it’s the LA girl in me. I’m like, “It’s fine.” I think for a lot of my cast-mates there is… It can become frustrating, truth be told, because you’re really trying to make choices that are so specific because you see where it’s going, but I do think it adds a quality of reality to it when we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next episode. It forces us to be so present in the choice that you would make only knowing what you know, and then you see what happens. I think there’s something creatively really cool about that.

How do you memorize the lines so quickly?
I use an app. It’s the rehearsal app, and I… Gosh, what a great plug for them. (laughs) I’ve had this thing since I was auditioning, but it’s fantastic because we have a line reader. Her name’s Kate and she is invaluable to all of us. What I’ll do is download the script and she’ll sit there and read it with me, and it’ll record every single scene. It’ll highlight for you, and then I replay it over and over when I walk my dogs, when I wash the dishes, all that real life stuff.  Especially now for Rachel, she has so much more legalese jargon, having worked with Harvey more. Before that, it was just “Here are the briefs,” or “Here are the files.” Now I really am working that memorization muscle in a different way.

You had this amazing scene with Claire where Rachel’s begging Claire to not spill the beans. What was it like to do that scene? It was intense.
Thank you. Yeah, it was. I was so sick that week. No, truly, I’ve never been that sick in my entire life and I lost my voice, and they had to have the set doctor drive down from… It was a holiday weekend. He had to drive down from his lake house to come and look and make sure I could even work, because I was talking like this (does a raspy voice) for most of it and it was not a scene where you should be talking like that. I had a lot of ADR to try and go in and loop it, which created a different challenge because so much of the intention and the emotion in those scenes, you are living in that moment.

Also, it was interesting because the character is played by Troian [Belisario] who’s Patrick’s fianceé who I’ve known for years and she’s so sweet and lovely. It was great to be able to work together and also have that support because I was struggling through that episode. It was really exciting for me to have more to do in that regard. I loved that episode, and of course I was sick that episode. I’m happy with how it turned out.

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How do you have time to do your website? When do you do that?
You know, I was just working on it. I do most of it in my trailer between scenes. The Tig is my second full time job. It’s great because what it’s really given me an opportunity to do is connect with fans in a different way, share a lot of aspects of what we do on Suits but then really dabble into things that interest me far outside of this from humanitarian stuff to fashion stuff, whatever else. I feel like if you’re passionate about something you just make the time, which at a certain point I’m sure, just like with Rachel, you can’t juggle it all forever. I’m getting close to that.

Do you do it yourself?
I do. I mean, I have a social media guy and an assistant to upload, but I write all the content and source it. It’s my baby.

Since Rachel is Harvey’s associate, and Harvey’s only focus is obviously going to be dealing with the Mike case in the six. Is that also Rachel’s only focus, or are there other priorities she’s going to be having to be putting out beyond the Mike trial?
No, I think that fire is pretty all-encompassing especially because talk about where work and life overlap. She’s dealing with it at the firm and then she’s dealing with it at home. With that said, Mike still has his own aspirations and his personal passion of trying to fight for the underdogs. When he’s taking on cases, Rachel is then assisting him in that. No, this is really a tough time for them, and it’s all Mike all the time and rightfully so. This is the man she’s choosing to spend her life with, so everything is on the line at this point.

If you could describe Rachel’s personality in designers in comparison to Meghan’s personality in designers, how would you do that?
Rachel has much more expensive taste than I do. Everything about her is, and this is where you can really see the difference… She is so Upper East Side, New York, old money. There is a classic quality to her dressing that I appreciate, and I’m pretty simple in that regard too. She invests in really key pieces and beautiful fabrics and all of that, which I think is fantastic but I’m just way more relaxed.

Look, Rachel has peppered herself into the way that I dress for sure. I think that’s been a real pleasure to be able to know those designers, but the bulk of what I wear for Rachel on this show is Burberry, Tom Ford, as one does. (laughs) When I go into a fitting and I look at a skirt and I see the price tag and go, “That is five thousand dollars for a skirt she’s wearing on a Tuesday? Can I just take it and sell it on eBay?” It’s crazy!

I know for me, I’m like, jeans and t-shirts but I always put heels on with it. We share the high heel thing. The designers I like are way more relaxed and a little more chill, easy.

You were talking about breaking points. How has this case affected her relationship with Mike? Does she still want to marry him?
Well, tomorrow is a big day. So there. Tomorrow is a big day, and that could go either way. What do you think?

Can you talk about how it’s affected their relationship?
Yeah, it’s terrible. It’s brought them closer and then it rips them apart and I think, for her and for me too, when reading the scripts I find so frustrating on behalf of Rachel is that he has this immense loyalty in terms of protecting Harvey and his relationship for not wanting to betray Harvey and his trust and how much stock Harvey put into Mike. For Mike, that is the swan song he continues to sing.

I think those are the questions that are really coming up in a huge way, and as selfless as she has been for many seasons I think she starts to come to a point where she’s asking him, “What’s more important to you: me or Harvey?”

What will Donna’s relationship be like with Rachel this season?
Turbulent. Donna is really caught in the middle of all of it, and because of… There’s no drinks at the bar with Michelle Ross, and what did they say… What was it when we did that, Harriet Specter and Michelle Ross, when they’re being cheeky and… No, no. That’s not happening in this back six. It is really intense because Rachel and Donna are each other’s confidants in terms of girlfriends and obviously Rachel has an allegiance to Mike, Donna’s is to Harvey, and it’s pulled in every direction. I’m hopeful that it’ll be okay.

Since Harvey resigned, does her position change at all?
No, Rachel is still sort of the right hand man there with Harvey, which has been great because I love working with Gabriel. Oh my God, he’s just so much fun and I think the crew is sort of tickled by the fact that the two of us… When he starts laughing, I am one of those ones who jumps in on the contagion of laughter, so it holds up everything. It’s just the best time. It keeps it really light and cool. Yeah, I’ve been really happy to work more with him.

Could you tease her reaction her reaction, or I guess your reaction, to when you found out?
Rachel doesn’t know who sold him out, so that will obviously change in the next season once more is revealed. It’s almost like Clue or Whodunnit because you’re literally… All these relationships, we’re asking about Donna, Harvey, Rachel being his sidekick, her friendship with Donna, all these things. That’s still in the back of her mind as much as she’s trusting all these people. Could it be one of them? It’s a really uncomfortable position to be in when you’re trying to have these organic relationships, and everything is off-kilter in Rachel’s world. All she’s looking for is something to anchor her that feels honest and true, and at this point it’s like… For much of the time it hasn’t been her man. It hasn’t been her best friend. All these pieces of the puzzle have really been wild cards. When she finds out, she’ll probably be bummed.

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)

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