This summer, Sarah Rafferty starred in one of the most-watched shows to hit streaming — four years after the series ended its run.
"Suits," the legal drama that originally ran on USA Network from 2011 to 2019, has seen a resurgence in popularity since it became available to stream on Netflix in June. (It's also available to stream in full on Peacock.) In the months since, the series has broken several streaming records — notching 18 billion streaming minutes in July alone — and is the most-watched title ever acquired by a streaming service, according to Nielsen.
It's the sort of feat Rafferty's character on the show, the all-knowing and impeccably dressed legal secretary-turned Chief Operations Officer Donna Paulsen, might be tempted to celebrate by partaking in the show's ever-mysterious can opener ritual. (The series also famously stars Meghan Markle.) Rafferty, though, is hoping some of that success will benefit her newest series for the streamer.
She stars as Katherine Walter, the matriarch of the large Walter family, in Netflix's adaptation of the Ali Novak's coming-of-age novel, "My Life With the Walter Boys." Now streaming, the series revolves around 15-year-old Jackie, who is uprooted from Manhattan to rural Colorado after the deaths of several members of her immediate family. She is taken in by her mom's best friend, Katherine, and her husband, George (Marc Blucas), who are already raising 10 children, mostly boys.
In a recent video call from her home in the Valley, Rafftery, whose post-"Suits" credits include "Grey's Anatomy" and "Chicago Med," talked about the benefit of playing a mom on a teen show, watching "Suits" find a second life on streaming and the possibility of reprising Donna Paulsen.
How was Katherine Walter, this beloved veterinarian in her community and the matriarch to a family of 10 children, presented to you?
I only had the first episode, and I really focused just on the scene when she goes to Jackie — Jackie was supposed to have fallen in the pool, but [instead] she got splashed by the dogs. That was the scene I was given to make my decision about. I think what I really connected to was the humanity of this mother, desperately wanting to be picked by her best friend's child to allow her the opportunity to nurture her into her new life. And that Katherine, not to the extent of Jackie, is also really grieving this loss too, and out of that comes this desire for the connection. That really spoke to me. I had known that Katherine herself was an adopted child. We know she had an amazing childhood and beautiful adoptive parents, but she still had an ache to understand her birth mother and where she came from, and maybe a little piece of the "why." And out of seeking that, she went on this healing journey of building her own family in a modern way with chosen and blood family. I think the fact that she has a big, huge, sprawling, chaotic family is a huge part of her healing journey. She wants to offer that to Jackie.
The show has you back in Canada this time, though, in Alberta. Were you commuting back and forth?
I was commuting. I love Canada. I loved our time in Toronto [where "Suits" was shot.] I raised my kids for nine years there. When it came time to go to Calgary, my kids are too old to come with me. So I was ferociously commuting, like gunning it for the airport at every opportunity that I could. While I was there, there was this magical thing happening with my fictional sons, where sometimes if I had a weekend and I couldn't go home, which was very hard for me — I didn't make it on Father's Day. I didn't make it home for Mother's Day. I was sad — they stepped in and folded me into plans and took road trips with me to Banff and those kinds of things. One of the benefits of electing to be the mom on a teen show is that I had downtime. I knew there would be days where we're shooting a high school party, there's no moms there, so I could get home to my real teens.
You're often doing scenes with a gaggle of young actors, mainly boys. How much did you take on a motherly role with them ?
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