BY EMMA DUBDIN
Having spent almost all of Season 2 mysteriously off-screen, everybody's guiltiest Mr. Robot fave is finally back in the spotlight. Tonight's episode filled in the blanks that were deliberately left about Tyrell last season, following him from the night of the 5/9 hack onwards as he narrowly avoids being shot by Elliot, goes into hiding, develops a rugged new look and confronts a few demons under the tutelage of Wallace Shawn, all before finally emerging in time to reunite with Elliot for the events of the Season 2 finale.
Of all the enigmatic things about Tyrell and his journey from sleek, sinister Patrick Bateman type to vengeful revolutionary, the most fascinating to fans may be his feelings for Elliot. Last season culminated with Tyrell reluctantly shooting Elliot—proving once and for all that he was real and not another split personality of Elliot's—and unexpectedly confessing: "I love him." In tonight's episode, the "Tyrelliot" of it all was undeniable: Tyrell tries to tell Elliot that he loves him, only to be cut off ("Some things are better left unsaid. Subtext, y'know?"), later insisting on wearing his trademark suit when he gets out of hiding, because, "I have to look my best for him."
BAZAAR.com caught up with actor Martin Wallström to talk about the fear that drives Tyrell, his unexpected bearded retreat on the farm, and the twisted love story between Tyrell and Elliot.
Tyrell has always been so defined by his slick corporate look that "Legacy" was a liberating change of pace for Wallström.
“When Sam [Esmail, Mr. Robot's showrunner] presented the season for me, he said that Episode 3 was going to be a big one. It took me a while to process when he described it, but it was so good to know what happened! I know the audience gets surprised a lot with Mr. Robot, but so do we—I mean, Tyrell ending up at this farm, I don’t think too many people would have guessed [that].
“We all know Tyrell with the nice suits, the ties, the hair, perfectly clean-shaven. It’s so nice to see him be the opposite of what he’s always been, and I think people will see him in a different light after they watch this.”
"Everything Tyrell does is based out of fear."
Tyrell’s villainy is often undercut by his deep vulnerability, which Wallström attributes to his being terrified.
“During Season 2, Sam and I often talked about the fact that everything Tyrell does is based out of fear. The fear of losing everything, the fear of going back from where he came and slipping down the ladder. The fear is so present and strong, and that’s also where we see the vulnerability. He’s so afraid, and he can’t control it, and that’s how he ends up where he is. He’s really not a nice person. I mean you’re talking about a guy who pays a homeless person $300 to beat him up, but you still sort of feel for him now and then, and I think that’s such a testament to the writing.”
Wallström sees Tyrell and Elliot’s relationship thus far as an unrequited love story.
“I look at it as a love story on some level, and I remember Sam, Rami [Malek] and I, before we started shooting Season 1, talked about it as this kind of unanswered love that Tyrell has. It’s so hard to say what that love is, exactly, but it’s really deep. The weird thing about the relationship is that it’s so much love coming from one side, and it’s overwhelming for Elliot. I think a lot of people see relationships as something that they aren’t—if you think that you’re in love with someone, and that’s your reality, and the other person isn’t, it’s going to be weird.
“I remember we did New York Comic Con two years ago, right after Season 1, and during the Q&A someone asked what we wanted to see in Season 2. I said that I wanted to see Tyrell kiss Elliot, and I wouldn’t have imagined it, but it was like the roof just went off! People went crazy, and I guess that’s when I understood that okay, people seem to be invested in this Tyrelliot thing. I think it’s wonderful.”
"I look at it as a love story on some level."
If you’ve floated a Mr. Robot fan theory, there’s a chance you may be proven correct this season.
“Some of these theories are really, really smart. I can say that there’s a small theory that I read, and there is actually a trace of it in this season. Something might have been incorporated, and that’s all I’m gonna say!”
One of Wallström’s first scenes with Malek helped him to find the key to Tyrell.
“In Episode 2, where he invites Elliot up to the conference room and Elliot says, ’No, I’m fine,’ and says that he doesn’t want to work with Tyrell, Sam and I talked about the fact that Tyrell takes this personally. That’s such a key to Tyrell, for me, is that this is someone who takes everything personally. And jumping ahead to his relationship with Irving (Bobby Cannavale), that’s interesting because to me, Irving is a top dog playing an underdog, and Tyrell is the exact opposite.”
Now that Elliot and Mr. Robot have split, Wallström has been playing more scenes with Christian Slater as well as Malek—sometimes playing off both actors within the same sequence, like in tonight’s arcade scene.
“Rami and I always joke that the arcade scene is like Christmas, it’s something we do once a year, because we’ve been together in that arcade filming that same scene three seasons in a row. Rami is such an inspiration, the way he carries this show on his shoulders. With some actors, you can really feel it when they step into the character, and with Rami you can actually feel it like an on/off switch. It’s mind-blowing, and I love working with him.
“Christian and I have a great relationship, and this season we had more to do, and we can be pretty rough to each other in a very respectful way. Later in the season, Mr. Robot and Tyrell have some tough scenes, and the energy that Christian brings to it just helps a lot.”
Tyrell doesn’t yet know about the sudden death of his wife Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen), but that won’t be the case for much longer.
“He will find out about it, and we will see his reaction in this season. I guess that's all I can say! Stephanie and I didn’t get to do that much [together] this season, but whenever people talk to me about Tyrell, it’s always the same. They say ‘Oh Tyrell, he’s so sick!’, and then there’s like a two second pause, and then they say ‘But his wife…’ What Stephanie did with this role was amazing.”