Suits’ Wendell Pierce Shares This Advice for the Cast of Upcoming Spinoff

Ahead of the Suits spinoff, Wendell Pierce gave E! News his thoughts on the new series and what filming may entail for the cast.

By Brahmjot Kaur Apr 04, 2024 12:00 PMTags
Watch: 'Suits: L.A.' Spinoff Casts Its New Star

Wendell Pierce knows what it takes to run a fictional law firm.

With a Suits spinoff underway, the OG show alum presented his case to the rising cast and offered up some wise closing statements.

"Trust your creator and your writer," Wendell told E! News in an exclusive interview, of his tips for the new firm. "You have the benefit of knowing that it works. So, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable with the style—it works."

"Trust each other and play," continued Wendell, who played veteran attorney Robert Zane and dad to Rachel (Meghan Markle). "Have fun because that's key. People feel when you have chemistry."

Suits: LA will take place in the OG show's universe at a law firm in Los Angeles. The spinoff will follow former New York federal prosecutor Ted Black, played by Stephen Amell, who's become one of the top lawyers in Hollywood.

News of the spinoff comes after the original nine-season series became the most streamed title in 2023—four years after it went off the air. And the renewed interest came as a shock to the 60-year-old.

Renewed and Canceled TV Shows 2024 Guide

"We all texted each other last summer or whenever this explosion of attention happened and we were like 'WTF!'" Wendell explained. "Because I remind people we finished the show seven years ago but it's a great resurgence."

But Wendell, who is now starring in The Good Wife spinoff Elsbeth (season one returns April 4 at 9 p.m. on CBS), believes it's the perfect time for a reboot.

"It's great that they are starting this new show with a great gift—all the attention of the world and it's being handed to them," he noted, adding that it's special continuing something "that's newly rediscovered."

Ian Watson/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Earlier this month, NBC confirmed to E! News that Bryan Greenberg is joining the cast as Rick Dodsen—Ted's protégé at Black Lane Law—who goes head-to-head with rising star Erica Rollins (Lex Scott Davis) to move up at the firm.

While the jury is still out on who else is set to star in the spinoff, keep reading to learn about all things Suits.

(E!, NBC and USA Network are all part of the NBCUniversal family.)

1. Truthfully, Suits creator Aaron Korsh didn't think he had much of a case when he shopped around his original script. As the writer's strike was ending in 2008, Korsh's agent suggested he turn his stories about former finance boss Harvey into a series. And as an aspiring comedy writer, he told The Hollywood Reporter, "I sat down to write something in the tone of Entourage that took place on Wall Street. What emerged when I was finished was an hourlong show. I wouldn't say it was a thriller, but it was much more dramatic, with these plot twists and turns."

Not expecting a winning verdict, he continued, "I certainly didn't think in a million years that anybody would buy this show. I was just trying to write a sample that someone would maybe read and hire me off."

Among the tweaks that were made when it was transformed into a pilot for USA: Protagonist Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) and co. were switched from a team of investment bankers to a group of high-powered attorneys. "It raised the stakes," Korsh acknowledged. Because now Mike, who hadn't graduated college, much less passed the bar, wasn't just lying his way into a lucrative gig, "he was committing a crime," said Korsh, "and the law also gave us opportunities for all kinds of ethical dilemmas."

2. Korsh objected to the network's other edits. In the first season they "wanted a case of the week, every week," he noted, revealing he often received notes instructing him to insert more scenes centered around that episode's client. 

"We'd add them and shoot them," he told THR, "and then I'd cut them out of the edit, and no one ever said, 'Put them back.' No one noticed! The next year, they were like, 'You know what? You don't need a case of the week.'"  

3. Welcome to New York? With only the pilot of the New York City-set series actually shot in the city, production had to get creative once they set up shop in Toronto. Two giant murals—one for daytime scenes, one for night—stood in for Manhattan's expansive vista, hanging behind all of the office sets. Or, as Sarah Rafferty (legal secretary turned chief operating officer Donna Paulsen) put it in a clip posted to TikTok, "Basically, New York City is a gigantic shower curtain." 

4. Adams made quite the closing argument while auditioning for the part of ballsy college dropout Mike, who parlayed his photographic memory and law knowledge into a high-powered legal gig. 

"I had been fired from a pilot and it was a pretty public firing," he said of the short-lived 2011 series Friends With Benefits. "And then you get to go into a room and look these producers in the eye and literally say these words to them in the audition: 'Give me this job. I promise I will not fail. I'll work harder than anybody you've ever seen.' Those are the easiest words that have ever left my mouth."

5. As for future duchess Meghan Markle, who scored the part of paralegal and future attorney Rachel Zane after gigs on The League and Without a Trace, she turned up to the audition in denim and a strappy top. Feeling a bit too casual, she relayed in her 2017 cover interview with Vanity Fair, she hit up a nearby H&M for a $35 LBD.

It proved to be a smart purchase as she was asked to slip into something dressier. But the true secret weapon for the star, who ended up in competition with actress Kim Shaw for the part, was her chemistry with Adams. As Jeff Wachtel, the chief content officer of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, told THR: "They had it right away. It was a lot of fun."

6. It didn't hurt that Markle felt a strong connection to the hard-working aspiring lawyer. "Rachel and I are very similar: ambitious, driven, and always trying to take the bull by its horns," she detailed to Marie Claire in 2013. They also shared a tendency to beat themselves up ("I'm harder on myself than anyone else might be") and a love for farm-to-table fare. 

"My character is a foodie because they know that I'm a foodie," noted Markle, who wore all her own jewelry in the series, including her grandmother's charm bracelet and her favorite signet ring. "I'm always on the quest to find amazing new restaurants and new recipes."

7. Gina Torres convinced casting directors to overturn their original plan to have her role—managing partner Jessica Pearson—go to a man. Retooled for the 24 alum, "What I brought to the table being a woman at that time in her 40s, who had been doing the thing she loves for over 20 years informed [Jessica]," she told Entertainment Weekly, adding she appreciated how "fully in her body" the Harvard grad was. 

"That is the biggest takeaway from playing that character," she explained, "and it made her scary to some people. It made her aspirational to other people, sometimes both."

8. It was almost a case closed situation when Torres (then wed to fellow actor Laurence Fishburn) decided to leave the show at the end of her contract in 2016. The plan, Korsh told The Hollywood Reporter, was for Jessica to move to Chicago with her boyfriend (D.B. Woodside) only to be murdered by an unhinged former client. "I didn't think we were going to see it; we were going to hear about it," he explained. "It was going to shatter everyone and we were going to do a two-year time jump afterwards."

The network objected, however, and "when we got into the writing of the episode, we just decided to let her have a happy ending," said Korsh. "And it does absolutely leave the door open for her to come back." Or...spin off into her own titular series

9. In a lot of ways, Gabriel Macht slipped right into the part of high-powered attorney Harvey Specter. "My sister is a former Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx," the NYC native explained to The TV Addict ahead of the 2011 premiere. "My aunt was in family law. One of my very close friends was a top corporate attorney in Los Angeles....And my cousin was also in family law, a divorce attorney. I've just been around it my whole life, so I've observed bits and pieces along the way. And I feel like when I get the scripts each week, I don't have to Wikipedia and try to figure out what all these terms mean." 

But he did voice objections to the shooting location ("I love the people of Toronto and I love our crew but New York is where the story is written and I think it should be shot there," he told Metro in 2012) and Harvey's overall look. "I find it to be icky and crispy," he said of his slicked-back hairstyle, "but it works for Harvey."

10. Despite fans' desires, pairing off managing partner Harvey with Rafferty's Donna was not a foregone conclusion in creator Korsh's mind. "When I wrote the pilot, I wasn't like, 'Harvey and Donna are destined to be together,' or even, 'Are they going to be the big "will they or won't they?"' But we definitely went through that with Mike and Rachel," he confessed to USA. "Do we keep them together, and what do we do about that?"

But, yes, he took note of the #Darvey shippers on social media, saying that "they're louder than the percentage who aren't" and feel "that they comprise 240 percent of viewers." Eventually, he gave in, ending the series with the pair's spontaneous wedding. 

11. As for Macht and Rafferty IRL, "we go back 20 years and our daughters are best friends," the actor revealed in a 2012 interview with Blast magazine of 16-year-old Satine (he and wife Jacinda Barrett are also parents to Luca, 9) and 15-year-old Oona (Rafferty and husband Santtu Seppälä also have daughter Iris, 11). "We are really, really, really close friends. We've been to each other's weddings."

12. Rick Hoffman would get, uh, Litt up by his furry costars. Though his character, managing partner Louis Litt, was fond of cats, Hoffman was so allergic that crew would have EpiPens and inhalers on hand when he had to film with one. 

13. While Mike had a photographic memory, Adams was in possession of some solid photo skills. The majority of the snaps in Rachel's office were captured by Adams, who shares other images on his Instagram page

14. Though the series gained an uptick in the court of public opinion after landing on Netflix in 2023, diehard Suitors have been there from the beginning. Olympian Michael Phelps made a cameo in season three and Charles Barkley was so devoted that he was willing to juggle a few balls to make an appearance in season five. 

"It's really cool for me, because when they heard me bragging about the show they invited me and I was like, 'I gotta make it work,'" the former NBA power forward turned TNT sports analyst told THR. "Right now with playoffs we're in our busy time and the only day we have off is Friday. I was like, 'I don't give a s--t. My day off, we're going up there to Toronto.'"

15. As for Katherine Heigl, she admittedly courted creator Korsh to land a gig on the series for its last two seasons. "I totally pitched myself," she told E! News of scoring the role of new partner Samantha Wheeler, by reaching out to Korsh. "When he said, 'I'm going to be busy with the eighth season,' I was like, 'Really? Do you need anybody? 'Cause I'm available.'"

It was a pretty winning strategy, she acknowledged. "I'm going to do that all the time," she continued. "I'm just going to call everybody—the showrunners of all the shows I love—and be like, 'Do you need a new character?'"

16. Korsh bet hard on Markle becoming a princess bride. Though the actress didn't announce she was leaving Suits until after her November 2017 engagement, Korsh began making plans for her departure months earlier. 

"I knew obviously from about a year ago that this relationship was burgeoning," he told The Telegraph at the time. "I didn't want to intrude, so I didn't want to ask, 'Hey, what's going on? What are you going to do?' As the season progressed, I said I would rather have good things happening to Meghan in her life, which would likely mean her leaving the show, so let's plan on that."

17. Appropriately, season seven's finale saw Markle's Rachel whisked away to Seattle by her prince charming—and the opportunity to run their own law firm. But the pair were initially meant to wed two seasons earlier before Mike began his prison sentence. 

"In the original script we were getting married, and all of us we're kind of like…it just felt a little cheesy to me, when we were all reading it," Adams explained to E! News. "But everybody was ready to do it, and I just thought, this is so much in an episode. Like, I'm going to get married and I'm going to go to jail, it just felt like we were packing it all in."

Eventually, he continued, Korsh caught wind of the chatter and decided to make a last-minute edit. Said Adams, "It felt a lot more important to say no to the wedding. So it was a day before that we got the new pages that it wasn't a wedding."

18. The entire cast, uh, suited up for Markle's big day. "We all went as a family," Korsh noted. "When we all went, there were about 10 of us or something...it was unbelievable." And there was no chance of any of them RSVPing no. 

"We worked together for so many years on the show. It's such an amazing experience. We were with each other for longer than we went to college or high school with our friends," explained Rafferty. "We became family, in a way; we're still family. So, this is a wonderful family affair."

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