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posted: 7/15/2013 5:00 AM

Patrick J. Adams feeling comfortable in 'Suits' role

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  • Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams) faces new professional and personal challenges when "Suits" returns to USA Network Tuesday, July 16.

    Mike Ross (Patrick J Adams) faces new professional and personal challenges when "Suits" returns to USA Network Tuesday, July 16.

By Kate O’Hare

Evidently, the USA Network legal melodrama "Suits," which launches its third season on Tuesday, July 16, is successful. But perhaps the person most amused by all of this is the mother of star Patrick J. Adams, who plays legal associate (if not exactly a lawyer) Mike Ross.

In his role as gifted college dropout Mike -- who never attended Harvard Law School, despite what he and his boss, top New York attorney Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), have led others to believe -- Adams must wear a variety of suits.

"I laugh," says Adams, "because my mom, she always said she wanted me to be a leader of tomorrow and sent me to private schools. I remember vividly saying, 'I will never wear a suit to work, ever.'

"Here we are, years later, and she loves it, because she loves suits, and she loves me getting dressed up. She laughs every time she comes to set."

After initial reluctance, Adams is getting the hang of dressing like a grown-up. He is still not fond of men's dress shoes, but the more comfortable alternative is not an option. "The day I'd pull on an Italian loafer," he says, "is the day I'd have to have a conversation about where my life is headed."

Meanwhile, back on "Suits," the show, in the Season 2 finale, Mike found himself in the midst of a battle at the law firm of Pearson Hardman, teaming with Harvey to attempt a coup to prevent a merger with a British firm. It failed -- partly because Mike caved under pressure from managing partner Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) -- and Mike retreated to the file room. There, paralegal and on-again/off-again love Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) confronted him and -- having just been refused admission to Harvard Law herself -- heard from Mike that he's been fibbing about being a graduate. Her anger turned to a slap, then another, then it turned to ... something else, and the will-they-or-won't-they became "Oh, yeah, they did."

"I know," says Adams. "That poor file room. It will never recover. Now, when we take visitors to the set through that room, it's a whole different experience. Before it was the most boring part of the tour; now it's the most exciting part."

As to where things stand in the season premiere, Adams says, "Well, we're going to pick up where we left off. At the end of the season, there was obviously a big shift, for lack of a better word, in the Mike/Rachel relationship -- huge shift, in quotation marks.

"Fans were just getting incredibly fed up with the 'will they or won't they' of that relationship. Creatively, we'd just reached the end of being able to tap that for anything. It just became frustrating.

"So, now it's opened up a whole new world where we get to see these two young people trying to figure out how a relationship might work under the pressures of their jobs and his given situation and the fact that she really wants a lawyer -- so there's that."

Beyond sexual politics, there's office politics.

"Obviously," Adams says, "Mike and Harvey are really at odds at the end of the second season. So we get to come back right where we left off and find them still at odds, and Harvey not speaking to Mike and not wanting anything to do with him, and Mike having to find a way to man up and own what he did and apologize and do it in a way that was a little bit more mature than he's been in the past."

At least Mike's fate is unlikely to mirror that of the role Adams had just before "Suits," that of ambitious money manager Nathan Israel on David Milch's HBO horse-racing drama "Luck." Used as a go-between in some shady dealings, Israel's stint on the show ended when a heavy glass ashtray connected with his head -- twice. Adams laughs at the memory of that.

"Yes," he says. "I still have that ashtray."

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