Actress Sarah Rafferty. Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright.

Actress Sarah Rafferty. Photo Credit: Marc Cartwright.

GALO: It must be nice to play someone else for a little while. Since you originally auditioned for the role, would you say that your personality has shown through Donna and helped to develop her as a person? Are you able to have input when it comes to your character?

SR: I would hope so. When you’re on a TV series for a long time and you have as many terrific writers as we do, they write toward you. They started doing that the very first season. They get to know you and start writing toward your voice. I’ve been playing Donna for four years. I’ve spent a lot of time walking in her shoes, creating her backstory, and living her life experiences. It’s great when somebody else gives you the best lines and you get to be a quick-witted funny person; it’s really fun to step into the shoes of someone who has such colossal self-esteem. It’s a trip, that’s for sure. We get the script and we go with it. We shoot the scenes as they are written, and after we’ve accomplished that, sometimes they will allow us to throw in some alternative lines or have improv moments. A lot of times, those moments end up in the final cut.

GALO: In the show, Donna and her boss Harvey are incredibly close. They have a bond that seems to be unbreakable. Was it difficult to create that initial chemistry with Gabriel Macht?

SR: The flashbacks have been amazing at kind of illuminating their history and backstory. There have been moments in their life that brought them closer together that could have pushed them apart. They have been together for so long, such as when they were working at the DA’s office and when they both quit. They have a sense of loyalty and faith in each other — and they have mutual respect. When Harvey left the DA’s office and asked Donna to come with him to work at the firm, he said, “I don’t want to find out who I’ll become without you.” It’s almost like a “work marriage.” A lot of the fun Harvey and Donna have with each other is the dynamic that Gabriel and I have with each other, because we’ve known each other for 20 years. Our silly, goofy, brotherly-sisterly dynamic is what the writers initially wrote toward, I think.

GALO: In season three, it was revealed to all that Harvey and Donna have a past, which includes having slept together once. How do you think this impacted the dynamic between the two characters? Can a man and a woman truly be just friends after such an intimate moment?

SR: We found it out in a flashback, so it isn’t something that actually changed their dynamic. But it does explain the circumstances of why they are not together. Donna said in the past that she doesn’t get involved with people she works with, and they slept together when they were momentarily not co-workers. Then when he wanted her to come work with him, she said that they had to forget it ever happened — that was her rule moving forward. I think Harvey and Donna’s relationship is really dynamic, and it only becomes more so as we move forward in the relationship.

GALO: Donna is one of the most mysterious characters on the show. We know what she does, but not necessarily who she is behind the scenes. Season four helped to uncover some of her past and her life growing up. Do you think more will be revealed in this upcoming season?

SR: That is what is so fun about the show. Every season and plot point that the writers create is a way for us to learn more about the relationships and characters. I think that is what is so unique about Suits. It’s not just about the exposition of a storyline, but instead it’s about affecting these characters and growing and learning more about them. It’s great.

GALO: Now let’s talk about style, as fashion can play a key role in outwardly showing one’s personality. It is no doubt that Donna’s character is a fashion statement in and of itself. How would you describe her style? What do you think it says about her character?

SR: I would say that Donna treats going to work like she’s stepping out on a runway. Her fashion is amazing, and she obviously has an incredible budget for clothes as a secretary. What makes her unique in her work environment as a secretary is that she is always celebrating her femininity. She wears dresses and very high-heeled shoes. Most of the time, her style is very classic but with fashion-forward labels and a classic silhouette. It is hard to get used to how your feet feel after a day in her shoes, though.

It [also] says a lot about how she views herself — the kind of self-respect that she has. She presents herself in that way. When we are initially introduced to Donna, she’s a reflection of Harvey in a lot of ways. Back in the pilot [episode], Donna handed Mike the card for Harvey’s tailor because part of the job is the image, and he has to look the part if he’s going to work for Harvey. I think Donna definitely relishes looking the part, for sure. In one episode of season three, Donna changes in the bathroom for a date from her work dress into a Gucci gown that fit her perfectly. She admits to knowing a guy who knows her size. That is every girl’s dream.

GALO: Speaking of fashionable characters, Donna has been equated to Joan Holloway from Mad Men. Would you consider this comparison a compliment? How would you compare and contrast the two women when it comes to style?

SR: I would say any comparison to Christina Hendricks is a compliment. But I haven’t seen the show enough to fully compare or contrast their styles.

GALO: Were you able to have any opinion when it came to the wardrobe of your character? I’m also interested in knowing if you could implement one characteristic from Donna’s style to your own, what would it be and why?

SR: Absolutely, it is a collaboration. I would be happy to prance around to events in Donna’s wardrobe. Of course, they don’t fit my lifestyle as a mother of two. There is no way I am going to be driving carpool in Giambattista Valli or Valentino. But I like her style, for sure. It is a mixture of our costume designer’s vision and knowledge of fashion, and the understanding of the look of the show as a whole. But a long time ago, we zeroed in on Donna and her silhouette. We decided she would pretty much only wear dresses and not be someone who wore separates. We talk about which dress works for what is happening emotionally in a scene, and it is a fun conversation for Jolie (our costume designer) and I to have. I would love to have Donna’s access to fashion designers at my fingertips. That would be kind of cool.

GALO: Suits has recently been renewed for a fifth season, which has been rumored to premiere this summer. This is exciting news, but I am curious about something else. Many fans, myself included, become attached to certain characters — especially if they have been around for so long. If Suits were to end, how difficult do you think it would be for you to let go of Donna?

SR: I will miss her when it is time for her to go. I love her. I know her. She is my friend. Without sounding like a crazy person, I have experienced her feelings on her behalf. I have a deep connection with her and respect for her. I have a lot of empathy for her when she’s going through a hard time, so I do feel like I know her as a person. So, it will be hard to let her go. I think what will be most difficult when I have to let her go is how much I will miss playing the scenes with her friends; I will miss playing Donna when she is with Harvey and the other characters. Every single cast member, I will miss working with [them]. That will probably be where the sadness is.

What did you think of the season finale of “Suits?” Sound off in the comments below or via Twitter @GALOMagazine.