BY ANTHONY D'ALESSANDRO
The hardest working cast in cable television appeared on a panel tonight at Neuehouse Hollywood before SAG voters and reflected on the wattage of girl power in season 2 of USA’s Emmy-winning show.
Seriously, since season one ended in September 2015, the Mr. Robot cast has been on an endless roll. They went straight into a Globes/SAG PR tour last fall, then into season 2 production this past spring/summer, and now in the wake of season 2’s finale, they’re back on the awards scene.
It’s all paid off for Mr. Robot: At January’s Golden Globes, the series took home trophies for best TV drama and supporting actor Christian Slater as well as two Emmy wins for Rami Malek (best actor drama) and original dramatic score. Tonight marked the first time that Christian Slater (Mr Robot), Rami Malek (Elliot), Carly Chaikin (Darline) Portia Doubleday (Angela), Stephanie Corneliussen (Joanna Wellick) and Grace Gummer (FBI agent Dom DiPierro) and creator Sam Esmail were together since the Emmys in September.
However, what stood out in the SAG actor-filled theater was a sizzle reel that emphasized the standout female performances in season 2 with bits of the four actresses. Despite being an ensemble cast, Esmail remarked the tall tasks that the thesps accomplished, “Each of them were alone. Darlene had panic attacks, Angela was in a sea of suits, Joanna was without her husband, Dom was lonely; you can’t play off anybody’s energy in these scenes, rather (the actresses) they had to explore their psyche where they’re beside themselves.”
Esmail emphasized that when it comes to casting, he’s pulled toward actors who surprise him, and play his material in ways that he never envisioned before. Originally, for example, Dom was conceived as older and near retirement, however, Esmail told his casting director to put out an open call for all ages. Though a challenging task for any casting director, it’s how Esmail finds his diamonds in the rough. For example, one of the reasons why Esmail settled on Doubleday for the part of Angela is because he knew the actress would make interesting choices. Ditto for Malek: Esmail has continually remarked how the fresh face actor brought a humanity and sensitivity to the cynical hacker.
One of the female characters who took quite an arc between season 1 and 2 was Doubleday’s Angela, going from the nice girl in the cubicle next to your desk to a corporate assassin.
Doubleday explained,”Physically there was a change in her. There was a confidence about her. She fit in more (into the E-Corp corporate structure) than she expected to. I always reference that everything that she went through in season one –from witnessing a suicide on TV and the turmoil that came with that — it had an effect on her as a person.”
When we last left off in season 2, Tyrell Wellick was alive and poised to level an E-Corp building as part of hack group Dark Army’s second phase. Nothing was going to step in his way, not even Elliot, so Tyrell shot him. Angela was definitely in the know re Tyrell’s plan. Elliot’s sister Darlene is in the current custody of FBI agent Dom, who is hellbent on tracking down Tyrell and Elliot.
Of course, the big wonder was what Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail would spill about season 3 tonight, and of course, not much. He simply threw a one word description out to the audience: “Disintegration”. During our season 2 post-mortem, the creator indicated that the Donald Trump-fueled society would spill into the Mr. Robot universe.
Esmail explained that every season shows “a different stage of (Elliot’s) disorder. The (Christian Slater’s) Mr. Robot character has to reflect what stage Elliot is in, and how to handle that disorder. The second season was about the battle. Elliot didn’t want to have Mr. Robot in his existence anymore and that made Mr. Robot this F***ing ass****.”
“The thing is we never play delusion. Christian (Slater) plays a human with relatable emotion – the fight for existence and survival; he wants to live as much as Elliot. He plays a person,” said the series creator.
No air date has been announced for season 3, however, if the schedule is similar to what USA has scheduled over the last two years, Esmail would start shooting in the spring in New York City for a July air date and edit throughout the summer. But again, that’s not definite at this point.
Video highlights from tonight also included a hysterical F-bomb blooper reel as well as Carly Chaiken’s audition tape in which she acted out the scene where Elliot interrupts her in the shower.
The cast tonight sat amid an atmosphere of TV history: The venue inside the Neuehouse was where I Love Lucy once held production.