Hacktivist TV hit Mr. Robot reflects real world, says Christian Slater


Mr. Robot, the new TV thriller delving into the fascinating and morally complex world of hacking, is premiering at the perfect time, as data breaches and hacktivism – from the recent Ashley Madison data dump to the Sony e-mail leaks last winter – grab headlines worldwide. 

"We made the pilot and, a couple months later, the Sony hack actually happened. So that kind of brought it to the forefront of everybody's mind," actor Christian Slater told CBC News in Toronto on Thursday. 

Slater, who stars as the titular mysterious leader of an underground group of hackers, says what has been interesting during production is the unexpected collision of the show and real world events.

"Sometimes we'll be shooting an episode and, in the paper that day, a very similar story is happening while we are filming it. It's been very synchronistic."

Rami Malek, left, and Christian Slater appear in a scene from the TV drama Mr. Robot. (David Giesbrecht/USA Network/Associated Press)

Rami Malek, left, and Christian Slater appear in a scene from the TV drama Mr. Robot. (David Giesbrecht/USA Network/Associated Press)

Mr. Robot centres on a young computer programmer named Elliot, played by Rami Malek. During the day, he works for a cyber security firm. By night, he's a hacking vigilante, using his skills to expose regular people doing bad things. 

A digital war begins after Elliot gets recruited by Mr. Robot to join his group of hackers. The mission: to expose the corruption within big corporations.

"It's a pretty crazy show," said Slater, who admits it has exposed him to a whole new world.

"There is definitely a moral authority aspect to it, but at the same time using that power to take on corruption and organizations that take advantage of people."

Producers hired technical advisors to help ensure the drama reflected real world hacks and Mr. Robot, which just concluded its first season in the U.S., has been commended for its accurate portrayal. 

"As technical as the show is and as much as it is about the world of hacking, Sam Esmail [the creator] really wanted to make it about characters and people interacting," Slater noted.

Praise for the series, which received an almost perfect score on online ratings site Rotten Tomatoes, has extended to Mr. Robot getting the green light for Season 2. 

"It's definitely a show that you should pay attention to," said Slater.

Mr. Robot premieres in Canada Friday on Showcase.