I remember thinking, “If New York City were a TV series, it would be Suits.”
I also remember thinking, “I have to be on this show.”
This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Ray Proscia. He is known for his roles on Imposters, The Man in the High Castle, and most notably, Suits. There, he currently portrays the hilarious and wise Dr. Lipschitz. He joined the show following years of references to Louis’ infamous therapists, and left fans anything but disappointed. The emotions and humour with which the scenes he shares with Louis are layered is one of a kind. Plus, he even got to Harvey! All of that and more is why I am so happy to have had the chance to ask these questions. And his answers, just like his contribution to the show, were nothing short of brilliant. Enjoy!
First, could you talk us through the process of how you got the role of Lipschitz? Were you familiar with the show before and what was your impression of the world you would be joining in on before you came to the set?
I have always been an avid Suits fan. I watched the first episode and thought that it was the best pilot I’d ever seen. It was slick, sharp, intelligent and fast-paced. I remember thinking, “If New York City were a TV series, it would be Suits.” I also remember thinking, “I have to be on this show.”
When I was called to audition for Lipschitz I had just finished working on another series in which I played a German soldier. As research for that role, I had read everything I could about Germany, its history and its culture. Also, I speak German fluently. So Lipschitz “German-ness” required no work. Thank goodness. Because that allowed me to immerse myself fully in the world of Louis Litt. I re-watched as many episodes as I could. I listened to the way Rick Hoffman spoke about Lipschitz… about Louis… and as Louis. I really wanted to feel like I had known Louis for a long time.
Finally, Lipschitz’ tone and way of speaking resembled an old friend of mine, who also happened to be a brilliant therapist. So, I actually modeled Lipschitz after him. Most specifically, Lipschitz’ sense of humor and the manner in which he gently drops his bombs of truth.
Suits has obviously been a success for years and especially recently, it has had all the new aspects of fame attached to it. What has it been like to play a part in this show specifically as an actor?
As I said, I was a Suits fan from the start. I knew it was a huge hit, I just didn’t know exactly how huge until I started playing Lipschitz. I’m still getting used to being recognized. And the nicest part about that is the love the fans have for the show. They are deeply, deeply invested in the story and characters. And genuinely concerned. It’s really sweet to witness.
Working on Suits is the kind of experience most actors can only dream of. Not only do I get to play a wonderfully unique, well-written character, I get to do it in the company of the most creative and collaborative people I’ve ever worked with.
From the very first day that I arrived on the set, it felt like I was working with family. And I think it shows. People often tell me that they love how calm Lipschitz’ scenes are. There is something comforting about them. I think that says a lot about the work environment. That sense of peace is indicative of the set and how supportive everyone is. And, believe me, that is rare in this business.
Following from that, can you recall some of your favorite fan encounters you have had on social media and/or real life since joining the cast?
People are always offering me advice on how to treat Louis and Harvey. Different medications. Alternative therapies. My favorite advice was offered by a man as he hurried past me in an airport. He yelled, “Louis needs electroshock therapy.” Then he disappeared into a crowd.
It’s also amusing to see people’s reactions when they realize that I’m not actually German. To be honest, I’m not sure they like it. They seem uncomfortable until I put on Lipschitz’ accent. It seems to soothe them.
Perhaps the funniest social media exchange was from a fan who wanted to make an appointment for a session with me and asked how much it would cost. When I explained that I’m not a therapist, just an actor, she said that she didn’t care. If I helped Louis, I could help her.
I would imagine that as an actor, each new character, and the experience which comes with it, must add something of value to your understanding of people. What would be your main take away from playing Dr. Lipshitz? Have you yourself had instances where the character or one of his advices particularly resonated with you?
Because I’ve had the privilege of spending so much time being Lipschitz, I’ve learned lessons both as a person and as an actor from him. And those lessons are one-in-the same.
“Listen. Just listen.”
Lipschitz is a master listener. To him listening is far more important than speaking. I’m trying to remember that. It’s not easy. But I’m trying.
One of the reasons why people are drawn to the Louis’ therapy storyline is the fact that Lipschitz seems very real and approachable. What would you wish for people to remember from his impact on Louis’, and even Harvey’s, life?
That’s easy. Sometimes, even the toughest of us needs to talk to somebody.
And on a similar note, besides his welcoming and open human nature, why do you think Lipschitz has stuck with the viewers?
As I mentioned, the fans are really invested in the characters. And after all these years, they have a lot they want to say to Louis. And Harvey. And Sheila. I think that Lipschitz says it for them. He is the fans’ voice.
We don’t know about your character’s presence moving forward, but is there anything you could tease for us?
Honestly, I know nothing about what to expect in season 9. You know as much as I do.
Do you have a specific wish as to how Lipschitz could be incorporated into the rest of the show?
Again, to be clear, I have no idea if this is going to happen in season 9, but if Louis and Sheila get married, I want to go to the wedding. Or how about a group therapy session with all the characters?!
On a personal note, in the time left, is there a character / actor you would like to share screen time with and why?
Well, if I were to answer that question as the “actor”, I’d like Lipschitz to share a scene with Samantha. Can you imagine how explosive a scene with Katherine Heigl would be? On the other hand, as the “fan/viewer” of the show, I’d love to see Lipschitz have a session with Donna. But who wouldn’t?
And lastly, what has, for you personally, been the highlight of working on the show and on the other hand, experiencing it as a viewer?
Personally? Not what. Who.
Aaron Korsh. Rick Hoffman. Gabriel Macht. Rachael Harris. Every director. Every writer. Every person behind the camera. From lighting and sound to hair and make-up all the way to the casting director. This is the most extraordinary group of people that I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.
As a viewer? Watching Louis and Harvey evolve into their best selves. I’d like to think that Lipschitz had something to do with it.
Thanks to Ray Proscia for taking the time to answer these questions, and thank you all for reading.
The last episode of season 8 of Suits airs tonight – 10/9c on USA Network.