Suits Q&A: Max Beesley On Playing British Harvey & The End of The Stephen/Donna Romance
As Stephen Huntley on “Suits,” actor Max Beesley has brought some heat to the law offices of Pearson Darby Specter this summer.
The British actor helped steam up the copy room with Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty), and he’s gone toe-to-toe with super-lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) while working the Ava Hessington (Michelle Fairley) case.
His behind-the-scenes maneuvers in the ever-changing case have caused more harm than good, and last week fans seemingly found out why. Stephen appears to have been attempting to stop information getting out — that he is actually the one who ordered the murders Ava is being charged with.
In a new interview with AccessHollywood.com, Max hinted things aren’t exactly how they appear to be (maybe). He also shared his thoughts on last week’s big Harvey/Stephen fight, and the surprising reaction from fans to the end of the Donna-Stephen romance.
AccessHollywood.com: Last week’s bathroom fight scene with Gabriel Macht — was it fun to shoot?
Max Beesley: It was fantastic. Gabriel and I get on very well and he’s a lovely guy. It was nice to actually have a bit of physicality on the show. I think he was pleased and we both had a chat about it before with the director and the stunt guy…
It’s interesting because I used to be a boxer, so obviously the ego kicks in and I’m like, ‘Hold on guys. I wouldn’t mind throwing a few more shots in here.’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, but it’s Harvey, so this is the way it’s gonna be.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, it’s actually true to the story, so I’m gonna swallow the pride and let’s go!’
It absolutely works out perfectly that [because of] the weight of the whole case he would be incredibly angry about what had been going on back and forth. And maybe there’s a layer in there of protectiveness over Donna, the relationship and consequently that’s what happens. … But I must say, I did want to throw a few head-butts in, but that got left out.
Access: Stephen did play rugby.
Max: Yeah, they say, ‘He’s a rugby guy, do you think you can take him?’ and I must admit… if I was a chocolate, I wouldn’t eat myself, but I do look quite fit on the show and quite strong.
Access: How much info did they give you about Stephen Huntley when you took the role? Obviously there was a huge revelation in last week’s episode. Did you know that when you started?
Max: No, it’s an interesting thing. Most of the shows that I’ve done in the past I have a very, very good idea [about my role], even if it’s 12 episodes, I’ll definitely get an outline from the writers on where it’s going and what we’re doing. On a few, it’s guess work because the writers are still writing, but on this one, initially when I took the meeting with Aaron [Korsh, ‘Suits’ creator] and we sat down and spoke about it, it was just basically to make sure that I was aware that he’s a strong character. He has to be able to jump in the ring, if you like, with Harvey. … When we got into the show, it was kind of [week by week], actually. And there was something both freeing about that, but also unnerving for me because I like to prepare very, very heavily on the work. But I actually took something away from it, which is, if you don’t know where it’s gonna go, you can only play the realism of what’s on the page that day and that week, so that’s what I did.
Access: When did you find out that Stephen was the one who ordered the killings?
Max: Well, even that’s ambiguous. We’ll find out a bit more [in Tuesday’s episode]. Even that’s ambiguous, you know, whether he ordered the killing.
Access: Where do we go from here — with Stephen getting the crap beat out of him, Donna dumping him, and basically him being in some serious hot water?
Max: We go to a courtroom first of all, which is very telling. And you’ve gotta remember that you are dealing with somebody that is an expert, expert attorney, so all sorts of things can happen in there and there will be more revelations [in the new episode]. It’s not as easily cut as him ordering these murders and that’s the end of that and Ava Hessington’s a bad girl… There’s loads of stuff going on and a lot will be revealed in 308.
Access: Has Donna definitely turned the page with Stephen? That was a fun relationship to watch on TV, those two.
Max: Well that’s what I was gonna say to you. It’s vitally important that the audience [is] aware that that wasn’t part of the manipulation. That was actually something that happened by accident. She was there and he actually started getting feelings for her and was upset by that whole thing not working out correctly. I think there’s a part of her that also was slightly devastated actually by it, but more so, her loyalty with Harvey and the firm and her own essence of woman and the strength that she has within herself is what probably made her just not give that too much thought. But there’s gravitas to that relationship and that was very important to Aaron and he didn’t want [it] to look like she was either manipulating Stephen to get something [back] at Harvey or that Stephen was manipulating the situation with her to get into the firm even deeper. It was a completely separate entity and I’ve really, really loved working with Sarah. I think she is phenomenally gifted. She’s a great, diverse actress, and she’s got a hard role on there, man, and she plays it brilliantly.
Access: What did people say to you when the Stephen/Donna romance was still in bloom? You’re on Twitter so you must have heard things.
Max: Well yeah. The trends — the shifting trends —- didn’t shift that much. They started with just — people loved it, that she was having some fun with this chap. The American audience obviously [likes] the British accent, so immediately you’re in a win-win position and then they kind of thought he was cute and really quite nice and a believable thing. And then, when this revelation occurred last week, rather than an outpour of hatred against him, it was more kind of like sadness, so I think we’ve done the job properly at that point because they’ve really bought into him as a nice character and they were really disappointed and sad that he’s got, let’s call it a ‘negative dynamic’ with these orders that were revealed and they wanted that relationship to continue because they really thought it was a cute deal for Donna. I, personally, loved it because you get to see more of Sarah’s work as an actress, and more time with Donna on screen ‘cause I think she’s brilliant. So there’s a lot of love out there on Twitter. I must say, there’s a lot of love and I got one Tweet, saying, ‘Yeah! Harvey’s The Governor. He’s licked you in the bathroom.’ But the rest of them were like, ‘Come on, man!’ And they like [Stephen]. They like the character, so that’s nice.
“Suits” airs tonight at 10 PM on USA.
-- Jolie Lash
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