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Like father, like son for Gabriel Macht of ‘Suits’

By Luaine Lee
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

PASADENA, Calif.

Gabriel Macht’s parents hoped their son would be a doctor or a lawyer. Their wish has been granted, in a way. He’s played both on TV.

But acting wasn’t really a choice for Macht. He’s the son of actor Stephen Macht, and from the time he was 8 he knew reciting lines and hitting his mark would be his destiny.

“At an early age I watched movies and was able to recite some lines and my father was an actor, and he had a bunch of his actor friends around. They’d always come over to the house, and there was a lot of hanging out and having coffee and all this stuff,” he recalls.

“And I’d come in and fool around and jump on the table and do a song and dance. And they’d start cracking up and laughing. And some say, ‘Why’d you become an actor?’ One of the reasons is because some (expletives) clapped,” he laughs.

Macht didn’t have to pass the bar for his role as pragmatic lawyer Harvey Specter on USA’s series, “Suits,” now in its fourth season.

But he faced a trial anyway. Another actor had been cast when he read the script. “I had been doing film for 15 years and saw a lot of the better writing was in television and started reading scripts,” he says.

“I asked my representation about it, and they said they were going with another guy. And they did … And he turned it down.

“Then I said, ‘Can I get in?’ I sat down with Aaron Korsh, the creator, and the producers, and coming out of that meeting they said, ‘This is our guy. We need to see him read, but this is our guy.’ So I had that confidence and support going into the audition,” he says.

He didn’t have to learn organic chemistry for his role as Dr. Mark Gabriel in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi series, “The Others,” either. But that was a different case. Macht didn’t want to do television when that part came across his path.

Macht gave it a cursory try. “I had rehearsal from 11 to 2 and was able to do the audition at 2:30 and came back to prepare for the night’s performance. I found out five minutes before I was going to do the performance that I got the series and had to fly to Toronto two days later – where I would be making a lot more than $200 a week.”

Macht has endured his struggling years, too. Right after college at Carnegie Mellon he studied for two years with coach Harold Guskin, snatching intermittent jobs.

But watching his father’s career prepared him, he says. “Seeing the ups and downs of a career in Hollywood helped me in many ways to see it. It’s like the stock market. There are times when you’re successful, and there is tons of failure. And to see that growing up was really the best sort of model. To see that careers – 1 percent of careers knock it out of the park every single time. And even those people have failures and misses.

“So it was good to learn that at an early age. I knew what was coming. I knew there would be times I’d work a lot and times not.”

Married to actress Jacinda Barrett for nearly 10 years, he has a 6-year-old daughter. “I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I’ve had to work and the people I’ve been able to work with, but I think family trumps everything,” says Macht, 32.

“To produce a human person that has an incredible sensitivity, just a little being who’s empathic and who’s exploring everything and is kind and is motivated and strong and stubborn – all these things. I hate to label her because she’s a billion things more than that. But to produce a child that’s going to be good for humanity, that’s what I’m more proud of. And becoming a father was enormous.”

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