BY MEGAN McLACHLAN
This is the second in a weekly series of interviews with the cast and creative behind USA / NBC Universal’s Mr. Robot.
Coming into Season 2 of USA Network’s Mr. Robot, Grace Gummer knew she was in a tough spot.
“I essentially had to come in after Season 1, which was loved by so many people, and make the audience root against everything that had happened in the Five/Nine hack and revolution,” said Gummer. “I was the antagonist to Elliot and Mr. Robot and fsociety.”
Of course, if Elliot (Rami Malek) and fsociety got away with everything and the series ended, fans would have been left wanting more, so there wouldn’t be Season 2 without Gummer. “And thankfully Dom DiPierro [Gummer’s character] is a very likable character, even if she’s working against our heroes.”
When we first meet Dom, she’s making small talk with an Iranian deli clerk. When the customer behind her tells her to wrap up the chit-chat, she calls the customer a dickhead in Persian. Gummer brings a freshness to the series, something that carried over from her audition process.
“I hadn’t seen Mr. Robot before I auditioned. I had heard from everyone that I know and love that it was one of their favorite shows, so I was really psyched to be in the room and go and do it. But auditioning, I didn’t want to fulfill an expectation that I thought they wanted to see; I wanted to bring my own thing to it, completely unaware of the tone.”
After she secured the role of Dom, she binged the entire first season in a day. “It’s a dream job to be able to have a steady gig on something you actually like and think is meaningful and important.”
And with Season 2 being a female-driven season, that only spurred Gummer more.
“I think that my character is a classic male archetype. The cop searching for purpose and their destiny, getting caught up in roadblocks, entangled in a web of dangerous situations. I feel like that role is typically reserved for a man. I think the fact that he [Sam Esmail] made me a young woman, the same age as everyone in fsociety, made it more interesting because you saw the similarities between her and Elliot and Darlene and how they are not so different.”
Even if, with Dom, what you see is not always what you get. While the FBI agent is no-nonsense and tough-as-nails in her professional life, at home, she is crippled with loneliness.
“I think a lot of people who have public lives have to deal with very intense situations where they have to put on a mask when they go to work and then go home. You never really know who somebody is, and that’s what’s so interesting about Sam and his work, that he’s just constantly surprising you, adding layer upon layer to characters. I was surprising myself every day playing this person. At the end of Season 2, I wished we could have kept shooting it so I could figure out this character! That’s what a life is; you’re still figuring yourself out.”
Someone (or thing) who may know more about Dom than anyone else is Amazon’s voice service Alexa, who Dom frequently engages with over the course of Season 2. In the last episode of the season, Dom asks, “Alexa, do you love me?” It’s one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the series thus far.
“I think she’s really talking out loud to herself. But there was no mirror in front of her. Just this voice.”
But for as much vulnerability Dom displays in that scene, in another sequence in the same episode, the FBI agent demonstrates fearless omniscience when she reveals to Darlene (Carly Chaikin) that she’s been on to fsociety this whole time.
“That was all done in one shot. And Carly is so much fun to work with, because she’s filled with so many different ideas and so rooted in her character. The big reveal happened in a way that made sense and was terrifying at the same time. We both knew what was happening. It was the culmination of everything and all of the FBI’s work. It was a really fun scene to do. And hard.”
Unlike Dom, who blindly trusts technology like Amazon’s Alexa, Gummer finds that confidence in gadgets more difficult.
“I hooked up Alexa for a day and asked it the same question I asked it on the show, before I shot it. And it says that exact thing. It’s very weird. Then I just unplugged it and put it away because I’m afraid it’s listening to everything that I’m doing and saying. I don’t know if I trust it.”