BY DIANE GORDON
There’s nothing ordinary about the USA Network drama “Mr. Robot” so the unusual choice of the cavernous Create Nightclub in Los Angeles for the show’s FYC event on Monday was pitch perfect. The panel with cast members Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, and Grace Gummer followed a live performance of the show’s haunting score by composer Mac Quayle.
The cast pointed out that block-shooting the show like a long movie, where they film all the scenes set in a particular location at one time and out of order makes tracking the intricately plotted story even more difficult. The entire cast referred to showrunner and creator/director Sam Esmail as “Mr. Continuity,” and credited him with being an invaluable guide and anchor during production. Esmail directed all the Season 2 episodes and he’s doing the same for Season 3.
Slater said, “Season 2 was, for me, as a character, the boundary season, with Elliot trying to place these boundaries and restrictions on the direction Mr. Robot wants things to go. Every decision Elliot made created a combative situation between us, which was frustrating. We were trying to outsmart each other.” What’s in store for the television’s most dysfunctional father and son? Slater teased, “I asked Sam what he felt was at the core of Season 3 between Elliot and Mr. Robot and the only word he was able to give me is “disintegration.”
Malek, meanwhile, discussed the continual challenge of playing the show’s paranoid catalyst Elliot Alderson, “I always ask Sam, what else can we do? I think Sam is very happy that it might come off as effortless in this moment, but I will assure you there’s nothing effortless about it. We know these characters so well, we can slip into them fairly easily, but the level of work is just as consuming as it was from day one.”
Chaikin noted the character progression over the first two seasons, “Season 1 was about plot, Season 2 was about character, and Season 3 is both. For Season 2, Sam told me Darlene is very militant. In Season 3, Darlene is changing and I have to learn how to change with her.”
Doubleday pointed to the increasing pressure her character Angela is under, “In Season 2, I was so interested in the positive affirmations and how you brainwash yourself: why you need that source of control comes from an incredibly dark place.” Doubleday also had a warning about Season 3, “It’s going to be the most difficult season for Angela by far.”
Gummer joined “Mr. Robot” in Season 2 and quickly learned it was not easy to leave her character of Agent DiPierro behind at the end of a workday. Gummer said, “I can’t not take it home with me. The way we shoot the show is so insane and intense. You have to think of what happened before, what happens later, the entire arc of your character. This is consuming, to say the least, in the best way possible.”
“Mr. Robot” Season 3 will air this fall on USA Network.