Rick Hoffman, who puts the wildly eccentric 'Litt' in 'Pearson Specter Litt,' spoke with USA Network receently about his Suits role, how Louis Litt has evolved over six seasons, the actor's early days of trying to get gigs, and how Louis leans on Donna like a big sister. (Lucky Donna!)
USA Network: We had a fan recently who wanted to know more about your acting background. Was it something that you studied in school? Just one day you said, "I'm going to L.A."?
Rick Hoffman: I never know how to answer this question correctly because my memory from high school was sports. My planning was to just find a school that would take me academically because I wasn't the greatest student. Somewhere in the midst of all of it and my obsession with girls, I had done one musical where everyone kind of seemed shocked, for a high school performance. That kind of turned a weird knob going, "Oh, wow. Well that's something that I think I can do but I'm studying business at University of Arizona." Then? I don't know. It was never a plan.
It was one of those things where I was just like, 'I should be doing something serious... why am I auditing an acting class and changing my major?' I never really understood how I ended up majoring in acting. It just felt comfortable at the time but I never was like, "I want to be an actor." Maybe not until the age of 27 when I was like, "Okay, I'm getting older and I want to be able to not live in garages anymore." I want to actually work, maybe if I try my best.
Then, shortly after that, I started to really audition and then I called myself an actor.
USA Network: Can you really ever be prepared for your first Hollywood audition? That must have been hard.
Rick Hoffman: I will tell you, there really is no word for the process of a struggling actor. 'Hard' is not the correct description. It's soul-crushing. It's demeaning. It's unbelievably scary. It's not for the weak of heart. As far as I was concerned, I didn't have a plan B, so I had no other choice. I think, just based on that desperation, it put me in a lucky position and the right thing happened at the right time and I got my first series. That was like winning a lottery ticket.
USA Network: Now you have play someone who is such an iconic TV character, Louis Litt. People must call you Louis Litt when they see you on the street.
Rick Hoffman: That's an understatement. I understand that I'll never have a better role in my life. He's such a polarizing character that people cannot control themselves. Even when I'm with my son, they'll just go, "Louis, what's up? Yo!" While I'm holding my one-and-a-half-year-old, they don't care. They'll be like, "I want to get Litt Up!"
USA Network: Patrick J Adams was talking recently about what it's like to direct Suits but, specifically, what it's like to direct you because everything you do is so... Louis Littian. How have you noticed the character developing over six seasons?
Rick Hoffman: I'd say it's been the most natural. For where he started and who he is, at the core, he slightly grew up. Slightly. Slightly. At first, it was one step forward, two steps back. Then, slowly but surely, around season three, it became maybe one step forward, one step back. Then, two steps forward... It was like this roller coaster of Louis falling on his own mistakes, learning from some of them, heartbreak, loneliness, dealing with his loneliness, learning that it's okay not to be as smooth as Harvey, happier with himself as a human being. He's still Louis; he's going to do something ridiculous every five episodes.
USA Network: Fans really love the relationship between Louis and Donna. Is it safe to say that is Donna his number-one friend at this point?
Rick Hoffman: Absolutely. Donna isn't involved in the winning over of Jessica's love or the winning over of Harvey's respect. Donna's an outsider to that so, as much as Louis has gotten over the chip on his shoulder, there was never a history with Donna. Donna never came from that difficult torment that Louis had gone through. Donna was always this objective observer and their friendship grew and he looks at her like a sister.
He complains to her almost like a younger brother. Even though Louis is older, he acts like a younger brother to Donna because he's like, "Come on, Donna, can't we just pretend like we always do that I didn't do that?"
Catch up on season six of Suits here. Also, can you believe summer is almost over? Plan the rest of your year with the official Louis Litt 2016 calendar!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.