When walking down the street, it’s not unusual for Patrick J. Adams to get nods of approval and giddy glances of admiration from the population’s tie and briefcase demographic. Star of the USA Network drama Suits, Adams’ character Mike Ross is to contemporary young Wall Streeters what Gordon Gekko was to the aspiring captains of industry in his day.
A down and out everyman, who happens on his dream legal career without a degree to speak of, the trials and doubts that shadow Mike Ross are ones easy for men in the industry to understand, part of the show’s reliability according to Adams. “Mike is they guy that most young guys are,” he says.
Born in Canada, Adams had been living and working in the United States for over a decade before the American program Suits brought him back to his native land for filming. Having previously split his time between guest appearances on TV shows (including the award-winning Friday Night Lights series and HBO’s Luck) and roles in indie films, like the gem Weather Girl, Suits counts as Adams first long term role. “No one was more overwhelmed by that outpouring of support and enthusiasm then I was,” says the actor of the popularity of the series.
Below, Adams chats with FILLER about the show’s appeal, finding his footing in fashion after discovering the world of formal dress, and the experiences awaiting his Mr. Mike Ross this season.
Suits has built a strong following in a short period of time, every guy I know loves the show. What do you think it is about the program, especially in terms of the male audience, that has the viewer hooked?
It’s obviously a big surprise when people react to something as quickly and strongly as they did to Suits. To be honest, I’m surprised not by the amount of guys that are into the show, but [by] the seemingly impossible range of people who tune in every week. I will walk down the street and get [the attention of] a lot of young men (mostly lawyers and finance guys) on one block, and then on [the] next I’ll be shaking hands with teenage girls, and on the next grandmothers and grandfathers.
That’s a pretty mixed bunch! Not just a guy’s show at all.
I think guys really appreciate watching two guys on either end of the professional spectrum work together. On the one hand they have Harvey, the quintessential winner who has made his name by always out-thinking and out-maneuvering the competition — Harvey is the guy that guys want to be. On the other hand, you have the new kid, who feels like he’s a fraud and is constantly seeking out new ways to prove his worth to the people above him, who he looks up to and admires. For everyone else, I think the show is sexy and funny, and people from [all] walks of life really seem to respond to the characters that are so well-fleshed out on the page and then by everyone in our incredible cast.
Your character certainly has a lot of layers to him. What’s your favourite trait in Mike Ross?
I think Mike is so brave. He has had to overcome so much to get to where he stands today, and a lot of that was his own baggage. It take a lot of courage to let go your fears and your doubts because sadly a person learns to identify with them. For Mike, this show begins with his refusal to cling to them anymore. I think that kind of bravery is pretty admirable, and I learn a lot from getting to play that everyday.
We can’t really talk about the show without bringing up fashion. It’s a bit like a Sex in the City for men in terms of trendsetting. Have you started to get more into fashion since donning designer suits everyday on set?
I have definitely begun to pay more attention to what I wear and how clothing can be such a valuable form of expression. Suits were so alien to me before, but now I am beginning to get a real sense of what works and what doesn’t and why.
And what’s that?
More than anything, wearing so many suits has taught me about learning to hold your body to project strength and confidence. I slouched my way through the first season of the show, and then this year really began to understand that a suit is modern day armour, and when you are in it, you always have to be at the ready.
Do you use a stylist for red carpet events, or do you prefer to pick out your own wardrobe?
I typically try and put things together myself. I am more comfortable in old ripped clothing. For big events, like last years SAG awards, I let the professionals handle it.
How would you describe your personal style, more Mike Ross out of the office, or Mike Ross in the office? Guessing from the love of things ripped, more out-of-the-office Mike…
More . . . Mike Ross before the office. Not really. I think I really suit my style to the occasion. Being on this show and learning so much more about fashion, I’ve now sort [of] cultivated a sense of style that I can put to work for me when it’s time to step up my game a little bit. And I like to put in the effort to find great pieces that speak to me, [and] that are also appropriate for well-dressed functions. But if I’m on my bike or walking a dog, than I am just as happy putting on whatever is closest, confident in the knowledge that the man makes the clothes, the clothes don’t make the man.
That’s a good maxim to live by. Let’s talk a bit about life off set. What’s your experience been like filming in Toronto, have you had much time to explore the city? Find any favourite hangouts?
I’m from Toronto so it’s been great to be back home and get the opportunity to re-learn the place that [I] grew up. We work a lot, so I don’t get a ton of time, but when I do, I spend most of it in the Queen West area. The food and art and community all around Ossington is so much more vibrant then it was when I left Toronto. If I had to pick my favorite spot it would have to be Trinity Bellwoods Park. During the summer, I walk over there, let my dog off the leash, and watch the sun set as often as possible. There is always something happening in that park. Yoga, remote controlled planes . . . a couple of weeks ago there were people teaching a free dance class. I love it there.
It’s an eclectic park for sure, always something going on there. What would you say is the most marked difference between life in Toronto and that in Los Angeles?
I think there is first and foremost just a difference between the energy of Canadians and Americans. I have lived in the States for almost 13 years now so I have really grown to love it there, and almost all of my friends are American, but there is a kindness and a curiosity and a stillness that seems uniquely Canadian. I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s a product of a living in a country that really experiences the change of seasons every year — that maybe that cycle keeps people grounded and down to earth. Los Angeles is an incredibly diverse and vibrant city, populated by some of the most beautiful, talented, and giving people I have ever met, but it is nonstop there year-round. The sun is always shining in Los Angeles, and, as a result people are moving at the same speed year-round – all rushing through their lives. The speed of L.A. is both exhilarating and exhausting. Toronto takes it time a little more, and I really appreciate that.
Seasonal personalities….makes sense. You mentioned your dog earlier, who we met on set the day of our shoot, does he get to go to the Suits’ set with you too?
Charlie spends most of his days with this incredible dog walking service called Dogtown Inc. They take him all day and run him around with what has now become his crew of dogs. Every now and then, I’ll bring him to set and he’ll spend the day with Gabriel’s dog and Miles, our wardrobe designers dog, but I usually don’t bring him up. I think dogs should be outside as much as possible, and because I’m so busy, I don’t like leaving him in a trailer for long periods of time. I am trying to organize for him to get a role next season. I think he would be make a great background artist, but I know he’s holding out for a starring role. Then I’ll be left waiting in his trailer.
Better keep your eye on the upstart! You mentioned on set that photography is a pastime of yours, gotten any good professional tips while on fashion shoots etc?
I love taking pictures, and it’s been amazing to get to work with so a diverse and talented collection of photographer over the last two years, thanks to the success of the show. Every time I meet a photographer, I try and learn as much as I can. Fashion shoots are some of the most fascinating sessions because I learn so much about portraiture and lighting. I am mostly a landscape and urban photographer, so I have a lot to learn about shooting people and working inside the studio environment. Learning how to integrate lighting into my work has already got me so excited to tackle some new projects, and build myself a light kit that will allow me to bring the studio with me into the world.
Okay, last question, this one is for Mike Ross: what’s cupid got in store for your character with Valentine’s Day around the corner? It seemed pretty up in the air at the end of Season 2’s summer finale. Can you give us any clue as to what we can expect to happen regarding his choice between Tess and Rachel?
At the end of the season, Mike was in a really dark place because of what had happened to his grandmother and the giant threat the firm was under because of Hardman. In a lot of ways, he took a few steps back into the world he lived in before Pearson Hardman, and in the final moments of the season, really came face to face with the consequences of his choices. Heading into the second part of the season, Mike has a lot of work to do just trying to repair his friendship with Rachel, not to mention any romance between the two of them. His relationship with Tess is a difficult one to maintain, and will [have] severe consequences of its own for Mike to deal.