Meghan Markle Grew Up Around TV Decades Before She Starred on Suits The actress talks about being a Catholic schoolgirl whose father worked on the risqué Married… With Children.

Meghan Markle Grew Up Around TV Decades Before She Starred on Suits
The actress talks about being a Catholic schoolgirl whose father worked on the risqué Married… With Children.

Megan Markle is one of the most famous women in the world now that she’s set to become a member of the British Royal Family, but five years ago she was yet to be a household name—despite starring on one of the highest-rated cable dramas, Suits. On the eve of the Season Three premiere in July 2013, Markle talked to Esquire about the show’s massive success, her childhood brushes with the famous guest stars of Fox’s Married… With Children, and her surprising connection to the marriage between Robin Thicke and Paula Patton (which, sadly, has since ended).

Meghan Markle is a bit of a renaissance woman. Before she began playing paralegal Rachel Zane on USA’s monster hit Suits, she spent time growing up on the set of Married… With Children, working at the U.S. Embassy, and earning rent money with calligraphy skills. She recently talked to us about the new season of Suits, celebrating Canada Day as an American, and some worthwhile handwriting tips.

Are you filming up in Toronto? Is that why you’re up there?
We are. Yeah, we film the show up here. It takes about eight months out of the year in total to do the 16 episodes. So we get out here in March, and we’ll probably wrap early November this year. I am an adopted Canuck now.

That’s a long time.
No kidding, right? And I’m a California girl. Born and raised in L.A. So it’s quite the departure. But I like it. It’s what I’ve always asked for: a show that gets picked up and becomes this successful. I’m so grateful, so I’ll take Canada. We just celebrated Canada Day here. What we’ve been doing every year since we’ve been up here is Patrick J. Adams and his family have us up to their home on an island on the Georgian Bay. I guess it’s really a testament to how well we all get along as a cast that when we have a three-day holiday weekend, we all drive up there with our coolers and our beer, and everyone brings their kids and husbands and wives and everything.

I don’t know how common that is among shows.
I think that’s part of why the show has become so successful. You can feel that we all get along on- and off-camera. And that chemistry is really prevalent in each of the episodes. But, yeah, off-camera, there we are just playing Apples to Apples and drinking Scotch into the wee hours of the night.

I guess what’s so deceptive about it is that it doesn’t seem like our show is part of the zeitgeist in the same way as the HBO shows, right? But at the same time, you look at our numbers, and you realize how many people really watch them. I’m a fan of a ton of other shows like Mad Men and Girls and The Newsroom. But for our show, we’ve been really lucky that not only have we had a strong following from the beginning, but USA is the number-one [cable] network, and we’re one of their number-one shows. If we’re going to flaunt it, it’s pretty fantastic. And I feel so fortunate, because as an actor you spend so much time just trying to get a job.

“We’re one of USA’s number-one shows. If we’re going to flaunt it, it’s pretty fantastic.”
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Your character on the show, Rachel, is really ambitious. You find much of yourself in her?
I think each of our personalities have really become peppered into our characters. I’m a foodie in real life, so the creator made Rachel a foodie. There are certain elements about my sense of humor that have started to become much more of Rachel’s character. We pride ourselves on being well-educated. And we don’t want to sell ourselves short.

Sounds like she’s been reading Lean In or something.
Exactly. I’m actually just finishing up Lean In—it’s funny that you mention that book. When I came to visit Esquire’s offices, we were talking about writing a sequel. It’s like Lean In, and once you were exhausted from leaning in, that’s when you’re just tipping over. So it’s Lean In, Tip Over, Lay Down. If we did a whole trilogy, that’s what it would be.

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They showed me the thank-you note you sent our editors. Your handwriting is incredible.
Thank you so much. It was because I went to an all-girls Catholic school for like six years during the time when kids actually had handwriting class. I’ve always had a propensity for getting the cursive down pretty well. What it evolved into was my pseudo-waitressing job when I was auditioning. I didn’t wait tables. I did calligraphy for the invitations for, like, Robin Thicke and Paula Patton’s wedding.

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I used to do it for Dolce & Gabbana’s celebrity correspondence over the holidays. I would sit there with a little white tube sock on my hand so no hand oils got on the card, trying to pay my bills while auditioning. I’m glad that in the land of no one seeming to appreciate a handwritten note anymore that I can try to keep that alive.

Is freelance calligraphy lucrative?
Oh, it’s super-lucrative. Because there are so few people doing it. What’s funny is I probably still have some calligraphy business cards floating out in the world and I can’t wait for someone to call me in a month or something, and say, “Can you do these for my son’s Bar Mitzvah?”

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Would you still do it? Squeeze in some invites between takes?
Honestly, in my trailer? Can you imagine? I am so tempted to do it just one or two times just to see the response if anyone is a fan of the show and gets it.

You don’t have any tips, do you, for a typical guy with chicken scratch to make a better-handwritten note?
Oh, sure. I guess the number-one thing is you have to take your time. Just do fluid strokes, you don’t have to have a fancy pen by any means. And here’s the other thing, you have to write in a way that’s authentic to you. So even if it is chicken scratch, just take a little bit more time and try to make the letters more fluid. At the end of the day, if the guy is going to write the girl a letter, whether it’s chicken scratch or scribble or looks like a doctor’s note, if he takes the time to put pen to paper and not type something, there’s something so incredibly romantic and beautiful about that.

You were one of the briefcase girls on Deal or No Deal. That had to be sort of fun.
I would put that in the category of things I was doing while I was auditioning to try to make ends meet. I went from working in the U.S. Embassy in Argentina to ending up on Deal. It’s run the gamut. Definitely working on Deal or No Deal was a learning experience, and it helped me to understand what I would rather be doing. So if that’s a way for me to gloss over that subject, then I will happily shift gears into something else.

Can I just ask: Do you know if you ever had the winning case?
I didn’t ever have it. I don’t think I did. I was the ill-fated number 26, which for some reason no one would ever choose. I would end up standing up there forever in these terribly uncomfortable and inexpensive five-inch heels just waiting for someone to pick my number so I could go and sit down.

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You’ve spent your whole life around television.
Absolutely. My dad was a lighting director and director of photography for Married… with Children. He just retired actually last year. Every day after school for 10 years, I was on the set of Married… with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up. There were a lot of times my dad would say, “Meg, why don’t you go and help with the craft services room over there? This is just a little off-color for your 11-year-old eyes.”

“I was on the set of Married… with Children, which is a really funny and perverse place for a little girl in a Catholic school uniform to grow up.”
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I can imagine. I wasn’t allowed to watch it as a kid.
Totally. Yeah. I wasn’t allowed to watch it at home. I could watch the end credits so I could give the screen a kiss when I saw my dad’s name go by. You gotta think, there were guest stars like Tia Carrere and Traci Lords and Nikki Cox. Those were the kind of women coming in every day. Just picture me with my curly hair and a gap in my teeth and my little school uniform with Keds on, looking up like, “Hi,” at these very, uh, provocative women. It was a big change from Immaculate Heart Catholic School.

Being raised by a photography director, the crew on Suits must love you.
Yeah. Transpo [the transportation crew]—that’s the world that I’m comfortable with. Especially the director of photography. I will always find my light. No question. And if I don’t, I’ll know, because my dad will be the first person to call me and say like, “You need to have him bring another 2K in,” and “Why aren’t you using this sort of lighting gel?” The crew guys know that it’s where I grew up. And definitely craft services guys know that it’s where I spend a lot of my time, in craftie. So I can whip up a great snack on a whim with almost nothing.

You’re a pretty good cook?
I pride myself in figuring out how to elevate a dish with a little preserved lemon, or then a sprinkle of Maldon salt. When we were talking about the Georgian Bay and Canada Day weekend, me and my Vitamix, we really sort of ran the show on feeding everybody for that weekend.

You brought your Vitamix with you on vacation?
Oh, yes. When I had my car brought out here, I shipped my Vitamix in the backseat. It was one of the things where I was like I cannot travel without my Vitamix. It’s like a commercial at this point. But I use it every day for pestos or shakes. Okay, now that’s too much. I need to stop.

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