Greenwich actress Sarah Rafferty returns for new season of ‘Suits’

When “Suits” returns for a third season this week, Donna Paulsen (played by Greenwich native Sarah Rafferty) will have her hands full as a result of the contentious merger between Pearson Hardman and a British law firm.

Paulsen’s biggest conundrum involves the arrival of “British Harvey” — a development that raises questions about her relationship with her boss and longtime confidant, Harvey Specter.

“This influx of Brits make things complicated on every level,” said Rafferty, who plays the sharp-tongued, level-headed Donna on “Suits.” “What’s most interesting for Donna is the . . . entrance of ‘British Harvey,’ which forces Donna and the real Harvey to address some important aspects of their relationship.”

Perhaps their friendship is at stake, or maybe, a long-rumored romance is in the works. Fans of “Suits” can tune in and find out when the season premier of USA Network’s popular legal drama airs on Tuesday, July 16 at 10 p.m.

Rafferty, who grew up in the Riverside section of Greenwich, said she is “thrilled” to play Donna — a legal secretary armed with a no-nonsense attitude and an arsenal of stinging retorts — again this season.

“I love how she’s developed,” Rafferty said. “I really admire how smart and loyal she is and her integrity and her big heart.”

Although fans have lauded Rafferty’s portrayal of Donna, the 40-year-old actress technically shouldn’t have gotten the part. After spending much of her career guest starring on a a bevy of crime and legal dramas, Rafferty was approached by her longtime friend and “Suits” co-star Gabriel Macht, who plays Harvey, to try out for the role. The problem? The show’s producers had a rule that they couldn’t hire friends of the cast.

However, Rafferty made such an impression that the producers reconsidered that stipulation.

“They did a lot of auditions, and luckily, they made an exception for me,” said Rafferty, a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. “Everything worked out.”

Since then, Rafferty has watched in amazement as “Suits” has exploded in popularity. Still, she is perhaps most proud of getting to play a shrewd, confident woman like Donna — a character who juggles responsibilities and one-liners with equal deftness.

“I’m proud to be on show that depicts women in the workplace the way it does,” Rafferty said. “These women are great at what they do, and they are so charismatic.”

Check out a preview of “Suits” season three below:

Scott Gargan