BY KEVIN P. SULLIVAN
The second episode of Mr. Robot‘s third season came with a shocking departure of a series regular.
Stop reading here to avoid spoilers.
Joanna Wellick, the sinister woman behind a sinister man, is killed during a tension-filled sequence scored by Roxette’s “Listen to Your Heart.”
After a TV interview, Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen), her infant child, and the pair’s protector, Mr. Sutherland (Jeremy Holm), are followed by a scorned lover, Derek (Chris Conroy), who previously gave a false testimony to get Tyrell Wellick (Martin Wallström) off the hook for a murder. The scene quickly turns violent when Derek pulls a gun, injuring Sutherland and killing Joanna.
EW spoke with Corneliussen about Joanna’s demise and what it was like filming such an intense moment.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Back before season 2 started filming, I went to a table read with the cast and overheard you tell the others that you’d be pissed if Joanna died. So were you pissed?
STEPHANIE CORNELIUSSEN: I mean, of course I was pissed. I think it’s a natural reaction, right? But I wasn’t so pissed as I was sad. In a sense, it’s sort of like a breakup. It’s a breakup from you to your character, your character to the story, myself to the cast and crew, and just being a part of the thing. You go through all of those phases — denial, anger, sadness — and then you end up feeling happy that I was a part of it. But yeah, I was a little pissed [laughs].
How did you find out?
[Creator Sam Esmail] called me personally and told me what was going to happen. Just like I said with the breakup, I assume that it’s the same feeling for him, because Joanna is a character that he essentially created. We went on that creative journey together. I think it was very hard for him to let her go and to see her go. She’s been such an eminent force on the show and such an interesting character that was supposed to be part of a small side story that turned into something bigger. I think it was tough for him to let it go. We had a heartfelt conversation about it, and he explained it to me. I’ve said this so many times, but I respect Sam so much as a creative visionary. If he thinks that’s the right way to go, I’m on board with that.
What was your reaction to learning the manner in which Joanna dies?
I felt like there was a poetic justice in it. Joanna is such a force, and I thought it would take so much to take her down, like an army. The fact that it’s a scorned lover and has disregarded other people’s feelings for so long, there was a poetic justice in the fact that that’s the way she went. I am, of course, on Joanna’s behalf, happy that the murder was retaliated by Jeremy Holm, who plays Sutherland.
What was it like actually filming that scene?
First of all, it took a very, very long time because we had to get so many camera angles in. Props to the props department, because they actually cut a car in half just to shoot this. There was at least a third of the car missing. It was less claustrophobic than you’d imagine, but of course, a lot of special effects had to come in. The motion of getting shot, we had special people directing as to how one would react to being shot. The scene, first of all, was shot so much later than I was told I was going to die, so just having that as the last moment with my friends — Jeremy Holm and I are very close personal friends — we decided to make the best of it. We had a blast that day. Weirdly enough, it was a really fun thing to shoot.
The show circles back to the past often. It does seem like there’s an opportunity for Joanna to reappear. Any comment?
I can’t confirm or debunk anything, obviously. But I can say that I personally would always be open to returning to the show. It’s been fantastic. I really, honestly think that I’ve been extremely lucky with my first big break and first big production. I don’t know if everyone’s as lucky to have such great people to work with, but from cast to crew, everyone has been really great. I’d come back no matter what.