'Suits': Sarah Rafferty and Rick Hoffman On Donna & Louis In Season 5

The modern television landscape is full of some truly unique characters, whether they're of the main or supporting variety. However, there are few that may believe two of the medium’s most memorable personalities reside on a USA series that, currently, is one of the best offerings the small screen has in its library: Donna and Louis of Suits (played by Sarah Rafferty and Rick Hoffman respectively).

The fifth season of Suits, set to debut later this month, is going to take the two most eccentric members of the Pearson Specter Litt law firm to new heights when Donna comes to work for Louis as his secretary at the start of the premiere. But how is all of this going to shake out, and where do Rafferty and Hoffman think their characters are in life after five years of playing them?

Sarah Rafferty

When asked if working for Louis was going to change Donna at all, Rafferty told us:

“She’s still the same girl in a lot of ways: outspoken, true to herself, she’s just in a much more complicated situation. What prevented her from leaving the firm entirely [was that] all these people are her family. She adores Louis, she adores Mike like a little brother, Rachel is her BFF [and] she admires Jessica – this strong female presence in her life that she respects. She still stands up to [Louis]. She’s not subservient, but she never would be to anybody. She probably never has been. But, I would say that, out of the gate, it’s been challenging because everything isn’t copacetic.

Rafferty then began to detail the duality of Donna’s current situation:

"Not only is [Louis] scared that she’s gonna leave him, but then, as things develop, they aren’t necessarily going smoothly between Harvey and Louis [either], so of course that puts her in a difficult spot, you know? She’s loyal as a secretary to her employer, [but] then she has her separate relationship with Harvey. So it’s a challenge… I think, technically, change is good. As an actor, it’s fun to find out the different dynamics, and I will say, especially in the first episode, I thought the scenes between Harvey and Donna were really dynamic now that they were in a new situation.”

As for the current status of Harvey and Donna’s relationship coming off the most recent season finale, the actress stated:

"I don’t think [Donna and Harvey] are cut off. They’re just down the hall from each other. If she really wanted to cut it off, she would have had to have left the firm. That’s not what she was doing. She was in a position where she could no longer move forward as his secretary. That’s how she felt. Had he been ready to have a conversation he was clearly not ready to have… she would have been able to figure out whether she could move on as his secretary or not, but since he didn’t engage, she felt she had [only] one option.”

Rafferty, when asked what a happy ending could be like for Harvey and Donna, responded “I’m really glad that’s not up to me,” before she added the following:

“I hope that when the day comes, we know it’s our series finale. I think there are a lot of different happy endings for them where they both could be okay, [but] I’ll say this: you saw Donna just want to have the conversation with Harvey. She wanted Harvey to be someone who would show up in the room and be mature and ready to talk about their relationship and acknowledge the fact that they’re in a unique situation after twelve years… and he couldn’t engage. In that way, it’s sort of what I’ve been saying all along. Donna’s point of view is – her conscious point of view, her subconscious point of view could be radically different – he was, emotionally, never going to be her life partner. She’s a really emotional person and needed someone to join her on that path… I think, though, there’s some relationship there. There’s not none. That’s not a happy ending for either of them.”

When asked if a platonic relationship would be serviceable for them, the actress answered, “Platonic [is] totally fine… I think they complete each other.” As for her feelings on Donna as a person (at this point in Suits' run), Rafferty said:

“I think she fully understands her value and uniqueness. She understands people and recognizes how that makes her invaluable at a law firm. She’s the mother hen in that way. The writers have really given her a super power. She really does know everything; she intuits everything because she never wanted to work in a corporate environment. She always thought she was going to be an actor. She’s an artsy type, like an intuitive people person. It was a lot of fun doing the flashbacks because we learned why she’s indispensable to [Harvey]. She’s a tough cookie, and she helped make him who he is, and he’s fully aware of that.”


Rick Hoffman

When we asked Hoffman if the new season of Suits would see Louis the happiest he’s ever been, the actor responded:

“Moments of peak happiness, [but] how long does Louis stay happy? Definitely, you see some serious moment of his exhilaration that Donna is coming to actually ask to be his secretary. I think someone like him doesn’t know any other world than complaining, or never being satisfied, or having a chip on his shoulder. Although, [there are] various attempts, as usual, to become a better person, but we’ll see if that ever really comes to fruition.”

On the topic of whether or not Louis has any remorse for Harvey at the start of the new season, Hoffman said:

“[He] has somewhat of an understanding because he knows how valuable Donna is. Other things fall into play that potentially causes issues between the two of them [though]… He feels great. His name’s on the wall, he’s got Donna but, what Louis is like six weeks prior from present day, where the premiere takes place, is different from where he is six weeks later, where it ends. The first episode is part flashback.”

Hoffman did, for a moment, touch on the question of whether or not Louis actually has romantic feelings for Donna that could come out this season under the duo’s new dynamic:

“[Aaron Korsh] doesn’t think so, but, I would say: you want somebody, you love somebody so much – and it’s professional, in the workplace – but you value and respect them so much, I can’t imagine there not being something. Let’s put it this way, does Louis know [he has feelings for Donna] right now? No. But if you were told later on down the line that Louis has feelings for Donna, how shocked would you be? For him to be completely turned off by Donna, I think, is b-------t.”

As for whether or not audiences will get a chance to dive into Louis’ personal life much over the course of this summer’s episodes, the actor stated:

"I think he’s moved on [from Sheila], although, we love Rachel Harris and don’t know, ultimately, if there’s room this particular ten episodes to get that thrown in there. [But], I think there’s plenty of stuff right now in a whole other world. I don’t know if many viewers are that interested in Louis’ personal relationships. There’s something else involved with [his] personal life this season that, I think, is even more interesting [this season].”

Regarding how Hoffman feels these days about tapping into the multiple layers contained within his character’s personality:

“I’m usually scared to death to play certain scenes that I read ahead of time. There are some challenging moments, like last year when they had me confront Jessica. For eight days, I was in a complete state of panic because… vulnerability, for me, scares the complete s—t out of me. But, all of this multi-leveled character stuff is just icing on the cake to something that we, as a group of people, get to do here that’s very rare – which is being on a television show that’s doing well. So the fact that Aaron writes these great arcs for me, either way I’d be just as happy. I’d play a douche until I run it into the ground, but I’m lucky that, on top of that, they’re writing this multi-level character [for me to play].”

He then offered some additional insight on the subject:

“Am I more fulfilled playing the moments where I’m required to really search as an actor? If you asked me, prior to doing a scene like the one with [Gina Torres] last year, where I threaten to take her down, I would have told you ‘I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it.’ [Then], after I had done it, I felt a more fulfilled feeling in those dramatic scenes just because they’re harder for me. [In] the comedic scenes, I feel very fulfilled. I think it’s a different switch you put on your head that’s a little easier. I would say, to find something funny is hard, but not as hard, to me, as those heavy scenes that [require] real vulnerability.”


Suits season five premieres June 24th, 2015 at 9/8c on USA.

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