Mr Robot cast Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday discuss being star struck with TV Guide
Sam Esmail ('Mr. Robot') joined five fellow drama showrunners and producers for The Hollywood Reporter's Drama Showrunner Emmy Roundtable where he recalls Rami Malek's audition saying he literally said the script breeds anxiety. It was nerve-wracking. I was like, 'Is he gonna get through this audition?'
The roundtable includes Julian Fellowes ('Downton Abbey'), John Ridley ('American Crime'), Marti Noxon ('UnREAL'), Melissa Rosenberg ('Jessica Jones'), and Nina Jacobson ('The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story')
"He literally said the script breeds anxiety. It was nerve-wracking. I was like, 'Is he gonna get through this audition?'"“Most of my friends were coders, some were hackers," Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail told THRduring the Drama Showrunner Emmy Roundtable. "I even tried to dabble in it." Esmail drew inspiration from his real-life coding experience to develop Robot, saying, "I just ripped a lot of their characteristics off and put them in my characters. It got eery a lot of times. Also," he noted, "there’s a fine line there, because there are real hackers out there, and if you don’t do that respectfully, they could retaliate.” Luckily for Esmail, "so far, [hackers] have actually liked the show.”
“The thing I’m scared about is, are we showing it in an authentic way? Is it going to land with people, or is it going to feel exploitive?" Said the writer and director. He said he pushes through his fears in each episode, hoping his points will be received in the way he intended, but not letting apprehension diminish the audacity of Mr. Robot. "If you’re not saying something, then what’s the point?“ he asked.
Esmail discussed what went into finding his lead actor and breakout star Rami Malek, saying he was disheartened after seeing over a hundred actors before Malek auditioned. “The thing that Rami told me, is that he loved all the jagged edges of his character. The other thing is, especially with TV, in particular with TV, you don’t want to cast an asshole. As good as they might be, if they’re an asshole, I really do not want to work with them.”
Esmail admits he draws more inspiration from film than television, but chose Twin Peaks as one of the most influential TV shows because of "the mystery about it. There was just something about drawing out this mystery." He also singled out The Twilight Zone "because it just made you kind of lean into the TV. It’s the very definition of ‘I want to know what happens next.”
Rami Malek's photoshoot with photographer Erik Madigan Heck
All photos from this photoshoot have been added to the gallery
Eliana Dockterma of TIME Magazine interviewed Rami Malek for the 'Time Off' section of TIME Magazine. The article 'Mr. Robot, the Devil Is In the Details' will appear in the July 4th issue of the magazine.
Photographer: Eric Madigan Heck
Rami Malek has taken a beating–or at least it certainly looks that way. It’s a sunny spring day in Brooklyn, and he’s on a break from shooting a scene for his show Mr. Robot that’s left him in impressively bad condition. He fiddles with the contact lens that creates the illusion of a streak of blood in one of his eerie, saucer-like eyes. A makeup artist touches up one of his lesions. Malek points to his bruised face. “He’s still battling demons,” he says of his character, a hacker named Elliot. “It hasn’t turned up roses in Season 2.”
The same can’t be said for USA’s Mr. Robot, returning July 13 after becoming last summer’s most surprising breakout hit. It’s a dark thriller about a coder (Malek) with a drug problem who’s recruited by a mysterious figure who calls himself Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) into joining a hacker group bent on taking down the 1%. The show won two Golden Globes–Best Drama and Best Supporting Actor (for Slater)–putting USA, a basic-cable network best known for sunny procedurals like Burn Notice, in the awards race.
Part of Mr. Robot’s appeal is that it looks like little else on television, from its diverse cast of characters–Malek is Egyptian-American, and the show’s hackers include a hijab-wearing Muslim woman and an Asian trans woman played by actor B.D. Wong–to its chilly cinematic style. The show even earned approval from Edward Snowden, who lauded its authenticity in an interview with Fusion.
That’s high praise for series creator Sam Esmail, who’s obsessed with accuracy, from shooting in real New York City neighborhoods–Chinatown, Queens, Coney Island–to using actual code onscreen. Esmail enlists experts in coding, politics and economics to consult on hacking and its ramifications. Spookily, Mr. Robot has predicted several real-life hacks before they happened, including the Ashley Madison data dump. That’s made the show popular with real hackers like the group Anonymous, though that comes with its own pitfalls: the cast members say they’ve nearly all been hacked.
It’s all close to home for Esmail, who was once suspended from college for a failed attempt at hacking himself; he went on to launch a tech start-up before becoming a writer and director. Mr. Robot was born in part from a frustration with the kitschy way Hollywood portrays the Internet, all binary digits and glowing tubes. “It always bothered me as a viewer when movies and shows gloss over the details,” Esmail says. So the beginning of the second season, which reckons with a financial collapse caused by the hackers, introduces an FBI agent hunting down the cybercriminals (Grace Gummer) and imagines the physical consequences of such an event. “Garbage would be piling up on the streets,” he says. “That would be one of the first cutbacks.”
“I’ve never experienced this level of preparation and attention to detail,” says Slater. “When we have a shot of [a QR code] that you can scan with your phone on the screen, I recommend everyone scan it because it will lead to some clue.” Those details, the actors say, help make the world more authentic, so they can better get in their characters’ heads. “When you see, from the top down, how much everyone cares, that makes an impact,” Malek says. “Sam gets performances out of me that no director ever has before.”
Esmail originally wrote Mr. Robot as a feature-length film, but the cinematic grandeur of the first season of True Detective convinced him that television was the right format. He already has four or five seasons plotted out: “The big reveal at the end of Season 1?” he says. “That was in the first 30 minutes of the movie version.” The show’s twists evoke Lost, one of Esmail’s favorite shows–though many fans believe Lost failed to stick its landing. “I’m past the point of worrying if people will be satisfied with the ending I’ve always had in mind,” says Esmail.
But where Mr. Robot’s story ends is beside the point. The show has tapped into universal anxieties about how our devices isolate us while making our darkest secrets vulnerable to skilled strangers. Are vigilantes like Elliot doing good or just generating chaos when they hack to reveal important truths? The answer may depend more on the viewer’s politics than the show’s. “It’s polarizing, politically,” says Malek, “which is not something TV really does.”
This appears in the July 04, 2016 issue of TIME.
Rami Malek took part in a photoshoot with photographer Ray Davidson for The Hollywood Reporter.
Six stars — including Rami Malek, Bobby Cannavale, Paul Giamatti, Forest Whitaker, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Wagner Moura all took part in a Drama Actors Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss their current roles and shows.
All photos from the photoshoot, plus outtakes and behind the scenes photos have been added to the gallery
Rami Malek and Christian Slater will feature on the front cover of this months Entertainment Weekly.
The magazine will be in stores on June 10th and available to digitally download on June 11th.
To get the full data dump on everything we know about Mr. Robot season two, pick up the newest issue out Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy one here
Entertainment Weekly's exclusive with Rami Malek & Christian Slater's behind the scenes access to Mr. Robot
Entertainment Weekly had exclusive behind the scenes access of Mr. Robot, as well as interviewing Rami Malek and Christian Slater for this months issue of Entertainment Weekly.
Take a look behind the scenes of Rami and Christian's photoshoot and their interview discussing season 2 of Mr. Robot which debuts on July 13th 2016
Over the course of a year, USA’s Mr. Robot went from an unknown show on the “blue skies” network to being recognized as one of the most narratively and visually daring drama series on television. During that lightning-fast rise, star Rami Malek, creator Sam Esmail, and fsociety, the hacking collective at the heart of Mr. Robot’s revolutionary story, made a few stops along the way, including the Golden Globes, the Peabodys, and now the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
As a part of our Summer TV Preview, EW gained exclusive access to the set, stars, and creator of Mr. Robot to download as many secrets as we could for the highly anticipated second season, which premieres July 13 at 10 p.m. ET.
Off the bat, Esmail wants fans to know that he sees the second season as a very different beast from season one. The world-changing events of season one would be pretty difficult to ignore after all. Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) and fsociety managed to hack Evil Corp, instantly erasing debt and toppling (if only temporarily) the biggest corporation in the world.
As a self-described geek, Esmail draws a parallel to one of geekdom’s essential texts. “The first act of Star Wars is a lot about set-up and character introductions,” he says. “The second part is Luke loses his aunt and uncle, and he no longer has a home. He now has to go on this journey to find his place in the world. That’s sort of where Elliot’s at right now.”
Malek has a slightly less nuanced way of describing his character’s mental state as season two picks up: “He’s pretty psychologically f—ed when we start.” And Malek isn’t joking. Having come face-to-face with his paternal delusions in the form of Christian Slater’s Mr. Robot, Elliot has run away from his problems — to his mother’s house, where he lives a tech-free life in hopes of digitally hogtying his worse half.
Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday and Carly Chaikin attended the USA Network's 'Mr Robot' For Your Consideration Event at Metrograph on June 6th, 2016 in New York City
Check out the panel interview below
During its acclaimed first season, USA’s buzzy hacker hit, Mr. Robot, established itself as a prime destination for viewers hungry for major plot twists and surprises. And series star Portia Doubleday upheld that tradition at a Yahoo TV-moderated TV Academy panel event held at New York City’s Metrograph movie theater on June 6. Her bombshell announcement? She’s never seen a Star Wars film. Okay, so that may not be as shocking as learning who exactly is knocking at the door in the last scene of the Season 1 finale. But her revelation — which you can witness firsthand in the exclusive video replay of that panel — inspired audible gasps and expressions of disbelief amongst the audience and her co-stars, Carly Chaikin, Christian Slater and Rami Malek. That was a twist even theydidn’t see coming.
Apart from that disturbance in the Force, the actors were all smiles at the panel, a “For Your Consideration” event for the upcoming Emmy nominations. But they also remained tight-lipped about any spoilers for the highly-anticipated second season, which is set to premiere on USA on July 13. A few hints were dropped anyway, including the fact that creator Sam Esmail (who is directing all 10 episodes of Season 2) has elevated the show’s already distinctive visual style for its sophomore year. But don’t worry F-society members and wanna-be’s: the cast also promises that Season 2 will still be the Mr. Robot you know and love. And that’s no spoiler.
Mr. Robot Season 2 premieres July 13 at 10 p.m. on USA
Rami Malek, along with Cindy Crawford, Nate Parker, Melissa Benoist, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Chris Evans share their memories of the legendary Prince with W Magazine
Full Interview of Rami Malek and Kirsten Dunst interviewing each other for Variety's Actors on Actors season 4 segment, which was filmed on April 1st 2016 for PBS.
This is a series of candid conversations between leading actors from this seasons most acclaimed television programs.