BY DEBRA BIRNBAUM
Fresh off their win at the Golden Globes for best drama, the cast of USA’s “Mr. Robot” — Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday and Carly Chaikin — along with creator Sam Esmail, headed to the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. to tease secrets of the upcoming season, slated for a summer return on USA.
“It’s not my agenda to keep shocking you. It really isn’t,” said Esmail, who is set to direct all 10 episodes of the USA hit’s second season, which starts filming in New York in March. “I’m not interested in gotcha moments.”
Esmail resisted efforts to spill details about the plot of the second season, but revealed the storyline will focus on Elliot’s (Malek) struggle to reconcile himself with the truth about Mr. Robot (Slater). “The whole show’s been about Elliot’s emotional journey and I really wanted to focus on that and make it less about the plot. That’s the struggle that is going to take over in season two,” he said.
“In season two, there will be a lot more backstory that will be shown,” he said. “And the timeline will get a little clearer. Not a hundred percent clearer, but a little clearer.”
Esmail said his decision to direct all ten was driven not out of disapproval of the work done by the helmers of the show’s first season, but out of his own desire to frame the show’s unique look and style. “Seeing the first season, I have a very distinct visual style for the show and for me it’s harder to collaborate when it comes to that aspect of the show,” he said, admitting USA was “terrified a little bit” about him stepping behind the camera. “The show’s look is so singular, it kind of makes sense to me,” he said. “I know you’re not going to believe me, but it actually makes it easier for me.”
The cast said it made sense to them as well, given that they’d gotten in the habit of seeking him out with all of their questions. “No one knows the story better than the crazy man that has it all in his head,” said Chaikin.
The stars admitted that they were proud they were able to keep the major secret — spoiler alert — throughout the first season that Mr. Robot wasn’t real. Malek, who knew from the beginning, said it was particularly challenging when filming with extras. “It was difficult sometimes on set when you’re telling other actors, ‘Just try not to look at him,'” he said.
Esmail also revealed that, because Elliot is an unreliable narrator, there are more things from season one that will prove not to be true.
Slater, who was also crowned best supporting actor by the Hollywood Foreign Press at Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony, said the highlight of the night for him was meeting Harrison Ford. “He proceeded to smooch the heck out of my face and he tried to walk off with the thing at some point,” he said. “I said ‘the night’s not gonna get any better than this,’ so I went home.”