BY USA NETWORK
Wednesday night, Sam Esmail and the cast of Mr. Robot spoke on a panel at Neuehouse Hollywood for the Screen Actors Guild benefiting the SAG-AFTRA foundation.
Of course, the stars were there to talk to their fellow actors about their performances, but the cast also signed fsociety masks and Mr. Robot journals for the SAG Awards Holiday Auction benefiting SAG-AFTRA’s children’s literacy website Storyline Online. Mr. Robot himself, Christian Slater, read The Coal Thief for Storyline Online.
USA Network spoke with actors Rami Malek (Elliot Alderson), Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), Portia Doubleday (Angela Moss), Carly Chaikin (Darlene), Grace Gummer (Dominique DiPierro), and Stephanie Corneliussen (Joanna Wellick) before the panel. The stars of Mr. Robot told us the inside story about all their wildest moments from season_2.0!
1. Angela Tells off the Plumber
After work at a karaoke bar in episode "eps2.6_succ3ss0r.p12," Angela runs into her father’s old friend Steve (John Wojda), a plumber. Making small talk, Steve has the nerve to call Angela a sell out for working at E Corp. Even if he didn’t know that she was possibly undercover trying to bring them down (we still don’t know for sure), that’s rude. Angela toots her own horn about her own success, although her focus on her salary makes us wonder if she really sees her value as how much money she makes.
“I think that there’s a part of her that feels walked on and doesn’t feel respected by others,” Doubleday said. “So I think that moment is a culmination of her feeling deserving, of being sick of having men treat her the way that they have throughout the series and being stepped on. There is a part of her that actually supports the fact that she can make a difference, because she believes that she can. That is something that is through and through. She actually could potentially make a change which is why she inevitably hacks E Corp."
2. The Aldersons Star in a Sitcom
By far, the most unexpected episode of Mr. Robot, "eps2.4_m4ster-s1ave.aes," had Elliot inside an ‘80s sitcom, complete with VHS quality USA network logos, laugh track and a cameo from Alf. This was karma for Slater, who never landed a sitcom in the actual ‘80s.
“I was about 12 years old and I auditioned for Diff’rent Strokes,” Slater said. “I just couldn’t get into the rhythm of how they wrote. You have to wait for the audience to laugh and the way Sam had written this particular scene, there were those specific beats of cueing for the audience laughter. It was very, very challenging. Now I feel, after having this experience, that I proved the casting director wrong on Diff’rent Strokes and they should have hired me. I feel vindicated.”
Malek had the job of acting like Elliot in this crazy ‘80s sitcom version of Mr. Robot. “In the sitcom, everyone is doing such hilarious takes on their character,” Malek said. “There were moments I really wanted to jump in and crack a joke here and there but you have to know your place. The idea was Elliot was trapped in that place. When you think about it from the outside perspective, to be locked in a sitcom world with canned laughter, kind of a two dimensional set was quite scary. It was nice just getting to play Elliot in an entirely different atmosphere, which is something I do every day as well, playing Elliot. You never know where the hell he is.”
3. Rami Malek Plays Christian Slater
When Elliot’s worlds were glitching in the season finale. there was a moment where he adopted the Mr. Robot persona while still in Elliot’s body. That meant Malek got to do the world’s greatest Christian Slater impression. Slater helped.
“He asked me to do those scenes that he was being asked to do, seeing if there was anything in particular that I would do,” Slater said. “I tend to do a lot more hand gestures than Elliot might do. He’s much more of a stiff, closed off, maybe a little bit more stable character. Mr. Robot is a little bit more animated and does gesticulate a bit more. I think Rami included some of those hand motions in those scenes.”
4. Darlene Gets Grilled by Dom
After two seasons of wearing masks and covering her tracks, Darlene ends up in the interrogation room with Dom in "eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z." It was awesome to see these two powerhouse characters confront each other, but this changes everything for Darlene.
“I think the whole motivation, aside from trying to finish what we started and all that, is to not get caught,” Chaikin told USA. “I think anybody in a position like that, the last thing that they would want to happen is them to get caught. That was a really big thing, but on top of it, Cisco dying and having that happen was the ultimate world crumbling down at this point. There’s so little less for her to lose but at the same time, still everything.”
It was also a big moment for Dom, to play out the confrontation she’d been waiting for during her whole investigation of fsociety.
“I think Dom’s last speech about lying in wait for the right moment to strike, the python approach of just laying low and getting there and getting there and slowly getting there, hopefully getting the man in the middle which is Tyrell, that was her approach for sure with Darlene,” Gummer said. “I think that was the approach for a lot of the characters this season too.”
5. Angela Sells Out...Or Doesn't
It’s still not clear whether Angela is buying into E Corp or is playing a really good long game by the end of season_2.0. “I think that Sam is keeping that fairly unclear at this point, especially with the ending,” Doubleday said. “I do think that she still struggles -- and Sam has said this -- I think she feels morally obligated to herself. At the same time, I do think that she’s completely seduced and sucked into the system. Now with what happened, I’m interested to see if there’s a new element of her story that’s gonna come out in the next season.”
To be fair, Angela is not alone. “I also think every character is in over their head at this point,” Chaikin added. “None of us are programmed or trained to deal with the situations we have found ourselves in at this point. I feel like there’s no way to prepare for what we’ve all gone through.”
6. Scott Beats Up Joanna
Man, it was one thing to find out that Tyrell (Martin Wallström) had not been sending Joanna secret messages and gifts. It was all Scott’s revenge plan. But to see Scott beat Joanna to a bloody pulp was really hard to watch in "eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2.p7z." Corneliussen gave us such a convincing performance that even the normally stoic Esmail congratulated her during filming.
“I joke about this all the time,” Corneliussen said. “I always joke with Sam, I always scream at him, ‘Tell me that you love me!’ That particular scene was the first time I’ve actually seen Sam get out of his chair, walk over to me and just be like, ‘That was something. That was amazing.’"
7. Joanna Gets Carrie’d In The Street
Another one of Joanna’s most intense moments is in "eps2.5_h4ndshake.sme" when she is out for a peaceful walk in the city with her baby and a protestor throws a bucket of blood all over her white shirt. That was one take and one shirt.
“I looked at Sam and I said, ‘This is one take, right?’” Corneliussen remembered. “He goes, ‘Yeah.’ It wasn’t a yup. It was a 'Yeah.' And I was like, ‘Oh God, please make this go right.’”
We didn’t even get to hear the full extent of the scream she let out after. “I’m actually surprised they took out the audio,” Corneliussen said. “I thought that was pretty amazing. I love that they took out the audio. The scream definitely woke up the Upper West Side, that’s for sure.”
8. Tyrell Shoots Elliot
The season finale revealed that Tyrell was still alive. If only Elliot had believed it before getting himself shot! While it was a confusing moment for Elliot, Malek knew what he was building towards.
“I just try to keep putting myself back into his frame of mind where you’re constantly questioning your reality and trying to get a grip on that reality,” Malek said. “It’s a difficult world for a young man to live in. It’s difficult for anyone to live in that headspace. There are moments when you’re playing that out as the character and I think as you proceed in that mindset, things aren’t going to be as shocking to him as they were in the first moments of discovering that he had this personality of Mr. Robot in season one. But the moments are always going to be shocking regardless because it takes quite a bit of getting used to to realizing your psychological problems are boundary-less so to speak.”
9. Dom Talks to Alexa
Dom is a badass FBI agent but it takes her entire being to be that. As we see in "eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd" however, Dom's lonely at home and only has Alexa, the voice of her Amazon Echo, to talk to. On the set, Alexa wasn’t actually programmed to respond to Gummer’s dialogue, so she had to do the scene with a human partner.
“Those were very challenging,” Gummer said. “It was spoken offscreen by the script supervisor who did an amazing job. Inevitably, she’s talking to a robot. She’s talking to not a real person so talking to what I knew was a real person was very difficult.”
Mr. Robot returns in 2017! Binge-watch season_2.0 on USANetwork.com and the USA Now app!