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‘Suits’ Star Abigail Spencer Talks Show’s Resurgence and the Cast Text Chain (Exclusive)

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Suits star Abigail Spencer was just as surprised as everyone else when the USA show saw a resurgence in popularity over the summer. Chatting with ET’s Kevin Frazier from the set of her upcoming comedy sitcom, Extended Family, Spencer opens up about the legal drama’s return to the spotlight and how she’s also excited for her newest project to become a household name.

In July, Nielsen reported that the legal drama, which aired on USA Network between 2011 and 2019, set a streaming record from June 26 to July 2. During that week, Suits, which began streaming on Netflix on June 17, had 3.14 billion minutes of watch time, setting the record for an acquired series. The record was previously held by Manifest, which had 2.49 billion watch minutes from June 14 to 20, 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition to topping the viewership on the acquired shows list for the week in question, Suits also led the overall list. The Witcher came in second with 1.31 billion minutes of viewing, and The Bear rounded up the top three with 1.01 billion minutes.

Spencer tells ET that she had no idea that the show had hit the streaming milestone until the cast group chat enlightened her.

Shane Mahood/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

“I was actually in Europe at the time, and I was walking around, and all of a sudden, everyone knew my first and last name,” she recalls. “And I was like, what, what is going on? And so then I was on a text chain with the cast, and they were like, ‘We’re the number one show in the world.’ And also, it was during the strike, so we couldn’t talk about it. We couldn’t promote the show. And it was really interesting how this new wave of streaming and shows can come back around again. It’s been crazy.”

Suits premiered in June 2011 on USA Network and aired 134 episodes in nine seasons. The final episode aired in September 2019. The series starred Gabriel Macht (Harvey Specter), Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross), Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane), Sarah Rafferty (Donna Paulsen), Rick Hoffman (Louis Litt) and Torres (Jessica Pearson), and it centers around Mike — quite literally — stumbling his way into one of the most powerful corporate law firms in Manhattan, thanks to his photographic memory.

Spencer appeared in several episodes, primarily throughout season 3. She played Dana J. Scott, J.D., a former senior partner at Pearson Specter and Harvey Specter’s ex-girlfriend.

“The role was actually created for me, and I hadn’t seen the show; it was already being shot. And so the casting director sent me the pilot and said, ‘Just watch it,’ because I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not. And when I saw it, I was like, I literally called my agent. I said, ‘I think this is Mad Men for lawyers, like I think there’s something really special here,'” Spencer shares. “So, you know, great they found it now.”

Ian Watson/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

While the actress looks back fondly on the beloved USA series, she’s even more excited about her fans diving into her upcoming NBC series, Extended Family.

The sitcom created by Mike O’Malley follows Jim (Jon Cryer) and Julia (Spencer) after an amicable divorce, deciding to continue to raise their kids at the family home while taking turns on who gets to stay with them. Navigating the waters of divorce and child-sharing gets more complicated for Jim when Trey (Donald Faison), the owner of his favorite sports team, enters the picture and wins Julia’s heart.

The cast also includes Sofia Capanna and Finn Sweeney, with O’Malley serving as showrunner and executive producer. Cryer, Tom Werner, Wyc Grousbeck, Emilia Fazzalari, George Geyer, Victor Levin, Victoria Morrow, and James Widdoes are also executive producers.

ET’s chat with Spencer was joined by co-stars Cryer and Faison, who reveal that the show has been in the works longer than people might expect.

“We’ve been together for two years now,” Faison shares, with Cryer adding that the cast “shot the pilot of this show almost two years ago. 

“It’s taken this crazy winding path. And you know, we all love it so much, and we all care about it so much,” Cryer adds. “And we finally got to shoot some, we were like, ‘Yes!’ And then strike [happened.] So we could not be more thrilled for America to finally get a chance to see it.”

While Cryer and Faison are veterans of comedies and sitcoms, it’s Spencer’s first proper entry in the genre. The Timeless alum says she’s more than ready for fans to see what she’s got and delve into a new perspective on families. 

“What I love about the show, what we love about the show, is we’re showing that there could be a different way to do divorce. You know, there there might be a way where exes could be best friends, and if you meet someone new and you have an extended family and a blended family, how you could do it really well,” she tells ET. “And [it’s] full of mess and emotion and authentic feelings towards each other and being able to express yourselves and talk about it, and I just haven’t seen anything like this on TV.”

Describing the series, Spencer shares that the show’s center family is “doing it together. We’re all making it work. There’s a system and you see the foibles and also the triumphs of it. I think what’s really fun about our characters is everyone’s very successful in their lives and very, you know, really able to put the kids first, but I would say our most childish qualities come out when the kids aren’t around, when we have to deal with each other, which is always really fun for comedy.”

As someone who has mostly worked on dramas, Spencer gushes about the opportunity to perform before a live audience, which she tells ET brings a different energy to the show. “I’ve never done that before so this is my first time doing that and having that energy come in and being able to have people come on and feel that, and it’s really a delight. It’s really a joy.”

Fans can join in on the fun when Extended Family premieres Saturday, Dec. 23 on NBC, with new weekly episodes kicking off on Tuesday, Jan. 2nd. All episodes will be available to stream the next day on Peacock.

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