For 'Mr. Robot's' Rami Malek, a SAG Award nomination calls up a 'Gilmore Girls' lesson

USA Network

USA Network


Do we have “Gilmore Girls” to thank for Rami Malek’s performance as the enigmatic Elliot Alderson in the USA network hacking thriller “Mr. Robot”?

The series, created by Sam Esmail, delves into the corroding effects of technology and the current state of wealth disparity. Leading us along the way is Malek as Elliot, a paranoid, drug-addicted programming whiz who moonlights as a vigilante hacker. He’s a man of few words, most of which are soft-spoken or totally internalized.

And Wednesday, Malek’s performance secured him a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for male actor in a drama series alongside Peter Dinklage (“Game of Thrones”), Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), Bob Odenkirk (“Better Call Saul”) and Kevin Spacey (“House of Cards”). Asked what lesson he learned from his first acting credit on “Gilmore Girls” has stuck him with all these years, Malek cited sound level.

“It’s funny, I can find myself sometimes being too quiet,” Malek told The Times by phone shortly after getting news of his nomination. “A lot of sound people tell me that I have to raise my volume. I think that’s because I studied theater for a while. And on 'Gilmore Girls,' I was wondering why people were talking so quietly. I quickly realized there were microphones involved and I didn’t have to yell. It stuck with me a little bit too much. Sometimes I’m just whispering.”

It’s working. The series, which helped USA take a step outside its blue skies box, has already locked in a second season renewal. And one can only wonder what Elliot Alderson’s internal dialogue would be in response to Malek’s SAG Award nomination.

“Elliot is not me, but I don’t think he could care less what happens in this world,” Malek told The Times.  “His internal dialogue would be interesting.”

As for Malek?

"I’ve been inundated with calls," he said. "I don’t know how Elliot handles this kind of adrenaline."

He continued: “It says a lot that I got to play a lead in this show and now I’m getting recognition for it as a nominee. I think there a lot of actors in the Screen Actors Guild who can relate to feeling like the underdog. Elliot is a guy who is deeply complicated and can go to really dark places. I’m just happy I get to see where he goes next.”