BY SAMANTHA SOFKA
All in all, 2015 was a great year for television, but I think you’ll agree with me in saying that Mr. Robot was the surprise hit nobody saw coming. Going into the show, I wasn’t sure what to expect but was really pleasantly surprised—not only by the cast’s impressive performances, but the carefully crafted plot as well. Though Elliot’s instability was clear from the get-go, showrunner Sam Esmail’s script kept viewers on their feet and engaged the entire season.
With the first season finishing a month ago, the cast—Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, Christian Slater, Carly Chaiken—and creator Sam Esmail took to the PaleyFest stage to discuss the first season.
After chatting about what it was like when they found out about some of the season’s shocking moments, and explaining what it felt like when it hit them that the show they were working on was huge, the Robot crew segued into the show’s film routes. For those who don’t know much about Esmail, prior to Robot, he directed and wrote an indie film called Comet. What a lot of people don’t know is the story of Elliot was originally intended to be a film.
When asked how far into the original film idea we are at the conclusion of the first season, Esmail joked, “This is how long-winded I am. Season one was just supposed to be the first 30 minutes of the movie.” The showrunner explained that he’d actually envisioned the story starting after Elliot had realized that Mr. Robot was an alter-ego he was hallucinating, but admitted that he got a little carried away with it—which we’re pretty glad about.
In fact, he already has the show mapped out for several seasons. “We’re staying on track for what the end of the movie would’ve been. We’re still sort of building towards that.” But, despite having a general sense of where things are going, the thing he “didn’t envision, was going off in all these directions with all these characters, [especially] Darlene and Angela.” Oooh, it sounds like he’s teasing some juicy upcoming events for the show’s two leading ladies. Even the cast was intrigued by that one.
As for their favorite moments on set, Carly has fond memories of the day they did the table read for the season finale, whereas Rami talked about the excitement of shutting down Times Square in New York City for the iconic scene in the final episode. Christian on the other hand recalled eating Twinkies in the ferris wheel with Rami, while Portia reflected on what it felt like after they filmed the cemetery scene.
The panel also touched on how the show has constantly matched up to events happening in the real world. In fact, according to the cast and creator, the day the show was picked up by USA was the very same day the Sony hack happened. Esmail, however, joked that it had nothing to do with it. He also touched on the Ashley Madison hack storyline, and how he made his own profile on the site for research purposes. “There are a lot of things Elliot did to hack Michael Hansen and I researched all of them,” he explained. “Of course now my name’s on that thing.”