It took Malcolm-Jamal Warner five years to land a role on USA Network’s Suits, on which he plays prison counselor Julius Rowe. He acknowledged that his unexpectedly long journey has paid off in spades, grateful that the experience has been far more fruitful than he could have imagined.
“It’s more exciting for me -- not only am I a part of it, but I’ve been auditioning for this show since the pilot,” the 45-year-old actor revealed to ETonline. “This was my fourth time auditioning. The fourth time’s the charm.”
With Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) in the middle of serving his two-year prison sentence for practicing law fraudulently without a degree, Warner’s Julius has become an unforeseen ally.
“I get to deal with a different Mike Ross than the way the rest of the Suits world interacts with him, because Mike in the prison is in a position he’s never been in. He’s essentially helpless,” Warner said. “For him to be in this world where he needs the help and needs to be able to trust other people, it’s a humbling experience for Mike. It’s a great opportunity for me to be able to experience him in a different way.”
“To be someone Mike has to pay attention to, has to listen to -- even at times when he doesn’t want to hear it, he has to hear it,” he continued.
As Julius’ unique relationship with Mike is further explored this season, Warner took immense pride in serving as the key catalyst for change in the ex-Pearson Specter Litt attorney.
“I do like being the instrument, or the eyes, through which we see a different side of Mike. It does keep it very interesting,” Warner said, adding that creator Aaron Korsh has continued to incorporate his character -- who was only slated to appear in a handful of episodes -- into more and more of the season.
“If you ask my mom, [she’d say] ‘What’s not to love?’” he said with a laugh.
At the moment, Warner’s storyline remains strictly in the confines of the prison, though he’s hopeful there may come an opportunity for Julius to interact with other key Suits characters.
“I would love that,” he said, chuckling. “There can always be an angle, based on the work that Mike and Julius have done, that Mike still wants to be able to use Julius as a sounding board without it having to be as formal as him being his prison counselor."
Watch an exclusive scene from Wednesday’s episode below.
Suits airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on USA Network.