They tried to save the world, but as Season 2 rolls out, the “Mr. Robot” hackers are realizing how complicated change really is.
“It’s real,” star Rami Malek (who plays Elliot) told a rapt audience Thursday evening at San Diego Comic-Con. “[Creator] Sam Esmail wanted to make something that was pure and authentic and real. When he talked about an event like this, it wasn’t going to be magical the next day. Things weren’t going to magically work out in everyone’s favor… There are vacuums left after this.”
Esmail didn’t attend the panel, which was mostly spoiler-free (sorry, no discussion of various fan theories) as Malek, Carly Chaiken (Darlene), Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), Portia Doubleday (Angela) and new cast member Grace Gummer (Dom) discussed the show (which was just nominated for six Emmys) and its influences.
“I think that in this day and age, everyone’s looking for something honest,” Chaiken said. “This show is incredibly honest. We’re all so imperfect and I think people can relate to that… It’s also very beautiful.”
Unlike last season, all ten episodes of “Mr. Robot” Season 2 were filmed at the same time – a practice known as “block shooting.” The cast admitted that was a challenge, to keep track of how their characters have evolved throughout the season.
“We shot the entire season like a movie,” Malek said. “In one day you could be shooting scenes from five different episodes. It was really difficult.”
Doubleday agreed, while also explaining the evolution of Angela. Her character looked to take down Evil Corp., who she blamed for her mother’s death. This season, which takes place just a month after the Season 1 finale, Angela is now working for the company.
“Prada shoes really changed her life!” Doubleday quipped. “My relationships with everyone are so different this season.” But she also can see how and why Angela might end up at Evil Corp., in order to feel a bit more in control.
“Seeing somebody kill themselves on live TV,” Doubleday said, referencing a moment at the end of last season,” 30 days later, what are the repercussions of that?”
Later, she added, “There’s something really dangerous to be said about her obsession with these affirmations. It’s stemming from something quite explosive. I wanted to get into what Angela struggles with internally. She’s very malleable. You don’t know what’s going to happen to her.”
Meanwhile, not much is known yet about Gummer’s character, an FBI agent investigating the fsociety hack. And the actress hinted, “What you see at first is not what you’re going to get. She’s a very complicated, layered weirdo like everyone else. She uses her work to cover up her own issues that she deals with. I see her as a bright light in a dark world. She’s trying to find the people who turned the lights out.
She has an instinct about who did it and why they did it. And she’ll stop at nothing to find that out.”
— When asked who on the cast is currently playing the hot mobile game Pokemon Go, Slater raised his hand. Chaiken admonished the crowd: “From the ‘Mr. Robot’ standpoint do you know what access your handing over when you sign up for that game?”
— Chaiken wants a bit of credit for keeping one of Season 1’s big reveals – that she’s Elliot’s sister – a secret. “I deserve applause for keeping that secret!” she said. “That was a very hard one to keep in!”
— Malek called Elliot “the greatest role I’ve ever gotten to play. What am I going to do next? I flip out every time I read a script, I shit my pants at times!”
— Chaiken and Slater are also big fans of “The Bachelorette,” and have long conversations on set about the reality dating show. Said Slater: “She better choose Luke!”
— Slater said last season’s other big reveal, that he was a mental creation of Elliot, left him wondering, “Now what? Where are we going to go? One [Esmail] breaks the storyline for season he calls each of us… I had many visceral reactions to the things he was telling me.”
Added Malek: “I had diarrhea.”
— One audience member asked about the irony of one major corporation – Comcast (via NBC Universal) making a show that demonizes major corporations. The question earned a few groans from execs in the crowd, but the stars gave USA Network props for running the show. “This is a very polarizing show,” Malek said. “There’s nothing we won’t broach. It takes a gutsy group of people to get behind a show behind that… Behind us are people who took a chance on a show that could be polarizing, and gave us free reign to say something.”