Sarah Rafferty on ‘Suits’ and ‘My Life with the Walter Boys’

Sarah Rafferty on ‘Suits’ and ‘My Life with the Walter Boys’

To say Sarah Rafferty has had a surreal year is an understatement. Given that the writers strike and SAG/AFTRA strike sidelined the industry for six months in total, most people who work in the industry would agree that 2023 has not been one they’d like to revisit. And while Rafferty is among them, she’s also insanely grateful for the blessings this year.

It all began this summer when Suits, the USA procedural series starring Rafferty, Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht, and a certain future Duchess of Sussex, arrived on Netflix. Nevermind that the nearly decade-long series wrapped its run in 2019; it’s arrival on the popular streamer launched the soapy legal drama into its own galaxy. In October, it landed in the No. 1 spot on the overall Nielsen Streaming Top 10 for a 12th week, and per Deadline, surpassed Ozark for the most No. 1 overall finishes on the overall chart ever—since Nielsen began reporting the Top 10s in 2020.

And if those numbers are too complex to understand, how’s this: The New York Times named it “the show of the summer.”

Rafferty, who played legal secretary Donna Paulsen, has always had a huge fan following, but even she couldn’t have dreamt what happened this summer. “I don’t think any of us could believe it. We were like, “Wait. Hold on. What?” she tells Glamour. “I’m so incredibly grateful.

As a result of the show’s surprise summer success story, several castmembers, including Rafferty, will reunite at next year’s ATX TV Festival, taking place May 30 to June 2 in Austin, Texas, to mark five years since the finale. That announcement came on the heels of reports that creator/showrunner, Aaron Korsh, is in the early stages of developing a new series set in the world of Suits, per Variety.

While Rafferty is absolutely open to stepping back into Donna’s shoes (more on that below), there’s another project that’s front-and-center right now. On Thursday, December 7, Netflix launches its new YA series, My Life with the Walter Boys, based on the best-selling book of the same name. Rafferty plays Dr. Katherine Walter, a veterinarian and married mother of 10, who lives on a ranch in Colorado.

Think of it as The Summer I Turned Pretty meets The Fosters meets Party of Five. “It’s a relatable teen drama with the classic themes about coming of age and juicy love triangles with beautiful people in a beautiful setting,” Rafferty says. “It’s about discovering your chosen family, which is a theme that is really particularly important for my character Katherine.”

Or, according to Rafferty’s 11-year-old daughter, it’s about to be the newest hit series. “She crushed The Summer I Turned Pretty, and then crushed [early screeners] of My Life with the Walter Boys, [so I’m pretty hopeful]!” Rafferty says.

And so, in the days leading up to the series debut—as well as Rafferty’s 51st birthday, which is Wednesday, December 6—she hopped on the phone to talk about life lately, the new A-list Suits fan that made her speechless, and heading back to Canada.

Glamour: Did you start to get recognized even more once Suits started streaming on Netflix this summer?

Sarah Rafferty: It was completely impossible to metabolize billions of minutes views [when the numbers were first reported]. What does that even mean? We were on our group text chain with [creator] Aaron [Korsh], and we all got together at one point and walked the [strike] line together . So it brought us together, of course, but I don’t think any of us could believe it. We were like, “Wait. Hold on. What?”

It just completely took off, and everyone I knew was rewatching—or watching—Suits.

It started to get funny with everybody I went to high school with messaging me on Facebook Messenger, saying, “Oh, my kids thinks it’s cool now that we went to high school together.” I had coffee with my next door neighbor at our local Starbucks recently, and I made nine friends. My next door neighbor is a Rabbi who’s 81 years old, and he was like, “What is going on? Do you know everybody here?” I was like, “I do now.”

But this is the best one…I was at a friend’s 50th birthday party. He says, “I have to introduce you to your biggest Suits fan.” I was ready for him to introduce me to his mom because my mom has been telling me everyone at the assisted living is watching the show. I think my mom has all this cred at assisted living now. Anyway, so I think I’m going to meet my friend’s mom, and I turn around, and it’s Larry David.

Oh my goodness.

He was like, “Oh, I love that show. I can’t stop watching it.” I was silent. I was shaking. I started to sweat. I was like, “I really do not know how to have this conversation.” That was the thrill of a lifetime. I called Aaron. Aaron was dying. Then I get a call from Rick Hoffman a couple days later and he says, “Do you have something to tell me? How dare you not call me first!”

Anyway, back to Larry, I was like, “Wait, you’re watching it?” He was like, “Well, I do love a courtroom drama. I love a courtroom. I love a courtroom.”

There’s got to be more Suits. A reunion, a continuation, something.

I can’t imagine. I don’t know how that stuff works. I suppose, look, they’re all alive and well somewhere in Seattle or wherever.

I feel like Pearson didn’t get the shot that it deserved, but now’s the time. You, Aaron, and several of the cast are reuniting at the ATX Festival next year, but there’s got to be more.

Yeah, they do those movies, right? Or whatever. Yeah, I feel like a great idea would bring everybody back together.

And Larry David can make a cameo. Or at least moderate your ATX Festival panel.

Larry David could literally walk through every scene and be like, “What are you guys doing? What are you worried about?” It’d just be so funny. Oh my God. Maybe I shouldn’t be speaking in public.

No, I think it’s great. The show is great, and it’s fun to have people discover it again.

I have to say I’m so happy. I’m so incredibly grateful. The world is feeling darker and more fractured minute by minute, and the fact that people found joy or escape or connection to each other [with this] chosen family is amazing. We’ve just come out of a pandemic, and we went into this major labor movement and strikes across many industries, and now we’re witnessing a war. It’s hard.

Many years ago, one of the first times I got stopped in Toronto after we premiered, I was crossing the street and somebody pulled their car in front of me. She rolled down her window, and said, “I just had to stop you because I’ve been watching your show with my teenage son. We’ve had trouble connecting lately, and it brings us together every week.”

When we started, Suits was kind of before social media was in our face. The feedback really mattered, and to know that it was bringing this family together in Toronto was just really special. I swore I was going to live off of that [sentiment]. And the feedback like that this summer has meant a lot to me.

Speaking of Toronto, you’re back in Canada for My Life with the Walter Boys, which stands in for Colorado.

We’re in Calgary, so it’s like the Canadian Rockies. It’s so pretty. You know I love Canada…[but] this was different. It’s astonishingly beautiful. It looks fake, right? In the same way that Suits’ wardrobe was kind of its own character, the scenery is its own character in My Life with the Walter Boys. It was really fun to get all up in it.

You have two daughters in real life, but in the show, you are a mom to a lot of young boys. What’s that been like?

There’s not a lot of boys in my family life. I have three sisters. My mom is one of three sisters, so I’m one of four sisters. My parents have nine grandchildren. Only two of them are boys. To play fake family with tons of boys was so fun. The young actors who play the Walter boys made my job so easy. You spend one minute with these young gentlemen and totally fall in love with them. We got to spend time together on the weekends driving up to Banff and going hiking and all that fun stuff.

Your character, Katherine, is a veterinarian and her style is very laid back, as it should be. What’s that like after dressing to the nines on Suits?

Donna was like fantasy wardrobe. That may never happen [to me] again. That was the once-in-a-lifetime fairytale couture craziness. But I loved Katherine’s wardrobe, and I loved working with Addie [Taiwo], our wardrobe designer. Because I come from theater, wardrobe is the primary tool for me to [step] into somebody else, which I find incredibly comfortable. Even though Donna’s clothes were not comfortable, especially considering what you have to wear under her clothes in order to make the clothes look like that…they’re not comfortable.

And I was pregnant the first season on Suits, and six weeks postpartum starting the second season. I was very big and juicy and to try to rein in my breasts for two seasons…oh my God. I’d be asking the camera guys, “Can you maybe not shoot me from the side?”All the Spanx that I wore were like belted.

But to get back to your question…I had done Chicago Med, so I was wearing scrubs in between [Suits and Walter Boys]. So I basically went from Suits to wearing pajamas, which was super fun. And then creating Katherine was really fun because she’s so different from Donna.

As an actor, you’re used to moving around to different cities, but did you have any reservations about going up to Calgary for this shoot? It’s not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away.

It’s always a tough decision to go. I would say I have a super, super fun job. I get to be a working actor and sustain my family doing the thing I love. So that’s amazing. But the absolute 100% most challenging part is the heartbreak of how much time you have to spend away. I have a friend, who is also an actor, and she’s married to a director, and she said, “When the business [started moving away from] L.A., there’s a lot of sacrifices for every member of the family to have that kind of time away.”

It’s not a complaint, because I’ve got to go to some really cool places like Toronto, Chicago, Calgary…but Calgary was a hard decision. The benefit was I play the mom on a teen show. I knew I was going to have downtime because the mom isn’t going to be in any of the scenes at the high school or the party scenes. You don’t need the mom for all the stuff. So I knew I would be able to get home because I have a teen [daughter]. I have kids. So that was actually a plus. And Calgary was a beautiful place that I was excited to explore, and really sweet actors to hang out with. There was something very magical about…I mean, you know how close the Suits actors are.

We’re so close. There was something really magic about [this cast]. All the lovely actors who played the kids were so open and and energized and and connected. They’re at the beginning of their careers. Their enthusiasm was contagious and connected me back to the beginning of my career. In a way, that was really healing, because this is my first job post pandemic.

Knowing what a huge audience there is for YA stories, I’m excited to see what’s ahead for them, and you, with this series.

Yes, and let’s talk about those boys and Nikki [Rodriguez, who plays Jackie]. I’ve been texting with all of them. I’m like, “The world is about to meet you. Things are going to change.” They’re about to be launched out of the gate. The tweens are falling in love with all of those kids, every single one of them.

How hard was it to get all their names straight? I mean, there are truly so many kids on this show.

I was in a panic for the first two weeks, and then when it got to the point where we were exchanging numbers and putting people in your phone, I never wanted them to see me doing it because I was like, “Wait. What’s his name? Shit. I think I’ve been calling him by his character name, not his real name. Oh damn.” But I do know their names now. I promise! I’m just so excited for these actors. I think the world is going to fall in love with them.


Written by Sarah Rafferty Source