SUITS: Max Topplin Interview re Season 2 (2012)

Max Topplin (photo credit: Ben Mark Holzberg)

Television is never about just one or two characters; it is about the ensemble they work amongst to bring the stories to life each week and to give their fictional worlds a depth in their reality.  Recognizing that an established law firm like Pearson Hardman in SUITS would not have a rotating staff of young attorneys, the show brought on as a recurring actor, Max Topplin, who plays the long-suffering, yet hilarious new associate Harold.  During a recent set visit, Max described who Harold is and how he fits into the Pearson Hardman hierarchy.

Harold, the Other Pearson Hardman Associate

MAX: I play an associate, Harold, at Pearson Hardman and I take a lot of abuse from Louis Litt.  I see most people are having a tough time, but I take the most, definitely.  So the character has grown kind of into the class clown of the office, unfortunately. Like they were shooting a scene with me doing pirouettes and all sorts of ridiculous things. He takes himself very seriously and he tries really hard.  He went to Harvard.  He’s a smart guy, but he might be a little socially awkward and not necessarily able to keep up with the rest of the associates and the rest of everyone else in the office. Harold is a genuine guy that cares and that’s why he gets [bleeped] on so much.  Like he’s not necessarily playing the game like everyone else.  So he did suffer.  He cares and he’s there to be the honest genuine guy in the office, when everyone else might be back-handing.  So I think that’s also where a lot of the comedy comes from, in that you put Harold in the situation, like for instance, he asks an honest question, “Since I’m not working on the case anymore can I date the dancers?” And he truly believes that he can date the dancers.  Okay Max dating the dancers?  Let’s be honest Harold dating the dancers not so much.  So I think it’s just the honesty and a genuine aspect of who he is as a person, that’s where the comedy arises.

Might Actually Get to Work on the Cases This Year

MAX:  Not yet.  Hopefully soon.  Like in this episode that were doing right now, I get started on the case and then I totally make a fool of myself and the case gets taken away from me and given to someone else.  So it’s a lot of that and hopefully that it will work towards something.  I’m a full-fledged legal associate, but until then, it’s mostly getting kicked around.  [Laughs]

Interactions With the Rest of the Characters and Cast

MAX:  Mike is Harold’s confidant and friend.  He can get a little aggravated with Harold at times just because he is not moving as fast as Mike would like, maybe.  But then Rachel, I think, she feels bad for him.  Like he was hitting on her in an upcoming episode real hard, and other just awkward stuff.  Let’s see Donna.  Harold catches Donna doing something and she treats him like a little boy.  She’s kind of the mother figure around the office anyway.  As for Gabriel [Macht], I don’t know if I’ve ever had a scene with Gabriel actually, or Gina [Torres] as Harvey and Jessica. But everyone else kind of takes Harold around, like Harold might be a punching bag for them soon. Who knows?  I’m hoping.  Let’s bring it on.  Let’s go.  [Laughs]

Getting Beyond the “Punching Bag” Phase

MAX: I am in one of the webisodes, where Harold gives it back to Louis.  It’s a really fun segment where I kind of say, “Hold on a sec. . .” He gives me the leeway to do that where it’s a role-playing uh exercise that he does with me and I kind of step up to the plate and say, “You know what?  Screw you. I’m done with you.”  But that’s as another character, so it’s not me as Harold.  So I get up and do that.  But then he put me back in my place at the end of the webisode.  So hopefully soon he won’t have to put me back in the place at the end and it’ll be good.  And hopefully a love interest, that’s what I’m hoping for!  Because he tries with every lady.  He’s going for it.  We were talking earlier like Team Rachel vs. Team Jenny, Harold is just Team Women. [Laughs]

Was Louis The Prior “Punching Bag”?

MAX:  Absolutely. I mean, let’s look at him.  He definitely was bullied.  Just kidding!  That was a joke.  But that’s kind of the cycle. I don’t think Harold — well I hope to say that Harold would never treat people like that — but that is probably the cycle.  But Louis worked up the ranks.  In episode 3, you’ll see Louis go back to the grunt work and show everyone where he started and how he got where he currently is.

Favorite Part of Working on Show

MAX:  The improv.  We’re given a lot of leeway. I find, more than any other show that I’ve ever worked on including like some really raunchy crazy comedies, the leeway we’re given just with going with the flow and creating dialogue that didn’t previously exist –they just allow us to play which is really nice.  Especially between me and Rick (who plays Louis Litt). They really allow us to go places — and with webisodes, we were getting crazy with some of the F-bombs thrown in and all kinds of things.  It was frisky.  [Laughs]  So, yeah, that’s probably my favorite aspect.  And the writing is so quick.  It’s so smart that it doesn’t leave the audience outcast, and if they don’t understand it’s because, in my case, maybe we don’t understand the dialogue ourselves either.  Not me as an actor, but as the character Harold.  It’s fun. I mean, it’s a great show!

Does Harold Stay In the Dark?

MAX:  As far as I understand, Harold is not aware of that. I think that in season two we will find out a lot more about where we’re going with his whole secret.

Given that Harold is also a Harvard graduate, it is hard to imagine that he would remain in the dark about Mike’s secret all season, but it will certainly be fun to watch to see if he catches on to the “game” being played.  To see the 2nd season premiere of SUITS, be sure to tune in on Thursday, June 14th at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.  Let the games begin!


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(Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/USA Network)
(Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/USA Network)
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