BY CYNTHIA LITTLETON
“Mr. Robot” was the cult TV show that refused to follow the rules.
Sam Esmail, creator of the surrealistic USA Network drama about a troubled computer hacker, never envisioned “Mr. Robot” as the pop culture sensation that it became in its initial airing last summer. Nor did he ever expect to be a greeter of a roomful of reporters asking him what it felt like to win a best drama series trophy at the Golden Globes.
“My biggest expectation for the show was that it would be a cult hit with a good small fan base that would keep us on the air for a long enough time for me to finish the whole series,” Esmail said backstage at the ceremony. “This is totally surreal and unexpected and I can’t even process it.”
The Globes win adds to the rags-to-riches trajectory for USA Network and “Mr. Robot” studio Universal Cable Productions. The NBCUniversal cabler has tried for the past few years to expand its palette of series beyond the blue-sky action dramas. “Mr. Robot” amounted to a 180-degree turn, the kind of show that inspired binge viewing and online fandemonium.
Christian Slater won the supporting drama actor award for his work as a very unusual character who is (SPOILER ALERT) the father of series star Rami Malek. Slater is a film and TV vet who had a run of short-lived and little-watched series for a decade before catching the “Mr. Robot” train. That makes the win particularly meaningful to Slater (although he was quick to note that he had satisfying creative experiences on some of those flops as well).
“I’m phenomenally grateful to Rami Malek – the greatest acting partner I’ve ever had in my life,” he said of his young co-star.
“Mr. Robot” resonated because the subject matter fortuitously was thrust into the national conversation just as the show was hitting the airwaves — and the SXSW Film Festival before that. Slater cited the November 2014 hack of Sony Pictures as a prime example.
“When we were making the series… things were happening that mirrored what we were doing on the day we were shooting. As it’s gone along, my level of awareness has risen,” he said. “It’s very smart to change your password as often as possible.”
Later, when the full “Mr. Robot” team came backstage after the drama series win, the troupe engaged in a comedy routine about how most people have passwords that are easy to guess.
“I’m sure most of you have terrible passwords,” Esmail said to the journos in the room. Malek shot back to his boss: “Yours is pretty bad.”