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A hero's journey: 'Suits' star Patrick J. Adams continuing rise

The best thing about television is that we get to watch growth. We tend to think of that growth as coming from the character, not the actor. But actors, too, change and aspire and improve. No one has done that more impressively than Suits star Patrick J. Adams.

About to enter his fifth season playing New York faux-lawyer Mike Ross, Adams has gone from relative unknown to have-to-know—and the best is yet to come.

Suits was Adams’ first leading role in a TV series; he was 29. You’d caught glimpses of him for years, as he made the guest-starring rounds on shows like Friday Night Lights, Lost and Pretty Little Liars. But then he got the spotlight—and he ran with it. Adams introduced us to Mike as an immature kid whom you sometimes wanted to shake, then organically peeled back the layers, but never excused that Mike still had plenty of growing up to do. What he did in that first season, in finding and unraveling that character, was one of the best single seasons of work by an actor, and well worthy of his SAG Award nomination.

At the same time, he stepped up to the plate off-screen. Where other young actors might have just been trying to get themselves settled in their first starring role, Adams fully embraced the responsibilities that came with being a co-lead. He did everything he was asked to, made an effort to contribute whenever possible, and always carried himself well. If you look up the phrase “leading man” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Adams and his costar, Gabriel Macht—both of whom understand better than anyone that it’s not just about how big your role is.

Adams is still getting better, on both counts, all the time. Now in season five, he is an old hand at playing Mike, but still finds new qualities to bring out about him. Adam has branched out into directing, which he’ll do again this season. And at 33, newly engaged and firmly into the next phase of his career, he’s still one of the sweetest, most thoughtful, most mature people you could ever hope to work with.

“It’s been a crazy learning process,” he told the EW Community. “I feel like I started this show very much as a child in a lot of the ways that Mike Ross was a child, and I’ve just learned so much about myself.”

Given how old he was when Suits began and how busy the last few years have been, maybe change was to be expected. But he’s taken a lot from an experienced cast and crew, all of whom he holds in tremendous regard. “Everybody I work with has such incredible qualities, and we all have each other’s backs,” he continued. “I feel blessed to be surrounded by people that are very positive and talented.”

You could apply that same description to Adams, who’s no overnight sensation. While he might have just become a name with Suits, it’s the culmination of years of hard work in TV, film, and particularly onstage. He’d been acting and directing in the Los Angeles theater world before the show, and brought that to his TV directorial debut, which was an eye-opener.

“It changed my whole relationship to the show, to be honest. I love this job, I love these people, I’m so grateful for it, but you get a little burned out,” he explained. “You have to step into a leadership position and go, ‘We’re telling this story. What’s the best way that we can tell this story?’ It totally reinvigorated my whole approach to this show … I still get tired and burned out, but that responsibility really matured me very quickly.”

Even now, as a central part of one of TV’s most popular shows, he and his character continue to evolve. The Mike Ross in season five is worlds apart from season one, but you can still draw a straight line from one to the other. And the Patrick J. Adams we’re talking to not only directs, but has a producer credit. He looks at things differently from the way he did five years ago, including that SAG Award nomination.

“It was a weird thing being nominated for that award the first season. I think it made sense at the time,” he said. “I think the show has also become much more of an ensemble over the years, and I think it moved away from this concept of being Mike’s story.”

Yet while Suits may not be his story anymore, there’s still a story in the journey of Mike, who started as a college dropout and became a lawyer, lost his beloved grandmother and gained a fiancée, and turned from a guy into a man. He’s grown up in front of the audience’s eyes, like a friend who finally got his stuff together; now we’re getting to watch him soar.

It’s one of those instances where the character has a perfect synergy with the actor. It’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing Mike, and that’s because there’s so much that Adams brings to him that nobody else could. Like his alter ego, he was a young man who finally got his break. Now he’s a star professionally and personally, at the top of his game and still climbing.

“For me, the fascinating part of this character is watching someone mature,” Adams reflected. “I feel really grateful to be in a show that, any time I felt I really needed to come in and mature the voice of this character and make him a little older … I’ve always been supported in doing that.”

He hopes that Mike’s growth will continue for years to come—and we hope so too. In Patrick J. Adams, we have a great Hollywood success story: a talented actor and truly admirable human being who’s achieved the success he so richly deserves, and who just wants to keep getting better.

Suits returns on Wednesday, June 24, at 9 p.m. on USA.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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