Sarah Rafferty Talks ‘Suits,’ Traveling and Personal Style
Yesterday’s season finale of Suits left plenty of hearts beating frantically as fans waited in huge anticipation to find out if Donna (Sarah Rafferty) and Harvey (Gabriel Macht) would finally get together after last week’s unexpected and misguided declaration from the “best closer in New York City.” While we won’t spoil the episode entirely for those who have yet to watch it, we will say that there were certainly plenty of surprises, including a proposal and a particular choice made by Donna in the last few minutes following her realization that she could no longer hide her feelings for her boss. For those left wondering what they’ll do with their extra hour on Wednesday nights, there is good news. The fifth season of Suits starts production this spring, with some speculating that the series will be making its return this summer, and that can only mean one thing — less wait for more drama and Donna.
Although actress Sarah Rafferty, who plays the red-headed executive assistant with razor-sharp wit, couldn’t be more excited for what is to come for her character, she recently admitted to Entertainment Tonight that she felt “pretty gob-smacked” and “surprised” at how things transpired at the end. Given her own set of mixed emotions, she expressed being curious as to fans’ reactions: “I’ll be very intrigued to see the [fans’] reactions — that’s for sure!” she told ET.
Those who watch the USA Network legal drama know that Donna Paulsen is the piece of the puzzle holding it all together, or what producer Aaron Korsh calls “the emotional glue” of the show. Intelligence, perception and power radiates all the way from the tip of her red hair to the points of her stilettos, which clearly shows in the number of people often found confiding in her and trusting her expertise. Hence, it will be interesting to see how certain characters on the show are affected by her latest resolve, including the “fax whisperer” herself now that she is putting her desires first.
Last month, we spoke with the 42-year-old Connecticut native all about life in Donna’s shoes, her character’s incredible style, and her own love for traveling and hiking. Read on to find out what she had to say.
GALO: Growing up the youngest of four girls, it must have been like having your own little slumber party. What was the best (and worst) part of growing up in a household full of women?
Sarah Rafferty: It was amazing. I actually have nothing bad to say about it. The best thing is that I have three best friends. My sisters were all older than me and they had really nurturing, almost parenting type of moments. Except for the one time the dollhouse fell on me and my one sister kind of left me there — because we kind of tortured each other. Of course, there was a lot of hysterical fighting, and we look back on that and laugh now. But my sisters are so much older than me that there wasn’t any real sibling rivalry. They were more like my mentors. I never knew a babysitter because I had my sisters.
GALO: You are also a wife and a mother to two girls, splitting your time between the East and West Coasts due to acting projects. Not only this, but you also have to travel to Toronto, Canada quite a bit for Suits. This must take a toll on your life. Would you say it makes your job more stressful or have you found a rhythm? Some believe that a woman cannot really have it all, that sacrifices have to be made somewhere along the way. Have you ever had to choose one (family vs. career) over the other?
SR: It is stressful to schlep your life around from one coast to the next a couple times a year — so it is logistically stressful, but it is an amazing experience for us as a family to spend half of the year in Canada. My girls get to go to school there and [they] have friends there. They are able to experience different things and the different seasons and Canadian culture. Also, they are learning French in school, and there are so many pluses to it. Right now, they are young enough that it doesn’t seem to stress them out; they enjoy it. The most important thing is that we all moved together. We go back and forth as a unit, which I think just makes it feel very stable for them. Life is a series of choices and you just have to be mindful of your priorities. I think a lot of us women who want to have a family and want to parent have to put that first. And there are sacrifices — your time is definitely compromised and some things you have to let go of during the parenting years. Anytime I am making a choice for my career, I always have my family in mind.
GALO: Speaking of the nomadic lifestyle, in one interview, you said you loved mountains and to travel. We all know that the U.S. has some wonderful and equally beautiful hiking opportunities, from the Appalachian Trail and New York’s Bear Mountain to California’s Lost Coast and Maine’s Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park. Where in the world would you like to go hiking that you haven’t had the chance to yet, and can you tell us what you find specifically captivating about mountains? Is it perhaps the feeling of smallness and humbleness they give off, hence helping one figure out what is most significant in life?
SR: I have always had a dream to hit Mount Kilimanjaro. That would be amazing. I would also love to go to Patagonia [the Patagonia Mountains span 15-miles and are located in Arizona]. The places I dream about are quite far away. I had an amazing trek to New Zealand that was incredible. Mountains are just so majestic. We were recently skiing at Mammoth in California in the High Sierra; imagine Ansel Adams’ photos, the drama of the High Sierra.
I can’t really explain what it is [that I find captivating]. I think, getting into nature, you can turn off the part of your mind that is spinning with your to-do lists and the chaos, and you can just take in the majesty and timeliness of the mountains. John Denver probably said it best when he wrote the lyric, “he knew he’d be a poor man if he never saw an eagle fly.” It sounds silly, but it’s true. Sometimes you just have to surround yourself with the magic of nature, take it all in and turn off all the other stimulations.
GALO: Let’s talk about Suits. In several past interviews, you have called your character, Donna Paulsen, the “emotional glue” that holds the show’s Pearson Hardman law firm together. Could you elaborate more on that point? What about your character’s personality makes her seem so trustworthy and powerful?
SR: That is the function that she serves in the show. There are two things at work [here]. Her sense of self-worth is astonishing. She must have taken some fairly serious seminars in girl power. A lot of [her] power also stems from the relationships that she has cultivated. She’s been with Harvey for 12 years on her terms as a partner for him, and she’s somebody who has challenged him to make ethical decisions along his path. So a lot of her power with Harvey comes from the history she shares with him.