Christian Slater and Rami Malek Reveal Why Hacker Show 'Mr. Robot' Focuses On Mental Illness

USA Network

USA Network


Thanks to modern hacker culture, privacy is a thing of the past. We constantly read headlines about cyber invasion, from 4Chan users leaking nude photos of celebrities, hackers leaking the names of those who used the controversial website Ashley Madison, and classified government information being compromised. 

Cybercrime is arguably the most important phenomena of the 21st century—and that's what makes Mr. Robot, USA Network's drama about a cyber-vigilante who tries to stop corruption through hacking, one of the most timely shows of today.  

However, exploring digital anarchy isn't the only reason why Mr. Robot is such an important show. Along with modern crime, the psychological thriller explores mental illness—a subject that used to be taboo, but has now finally getting the recognition it deserves. 

Rami Malek plays the show's protagonist Elliot Alderson, an anti-social hacker who suffers from social anxiety and depression, self-medicating himself with morphine to beat his crippling loneliness. Throughout the show you watch him spiral downwards, as his thoughts become more and more paranoid. Soon viewers learned that Christian Slater's character Mr. Robot, a mysterious anarchist ringleader, is Elliot's very own Tyler Durden. It shook up the show, bringing the mental health front and center.

USA Network

USA Network

During New York Comic Con, Malek and Slater talked about what it was like to get into the mind of a man in deep psychosis, and how doing so was so crucial. 

"As much research as I did on hacker culture and trying to identify with that, I did way more on the psychological aspect of that: mental health, mental illness," Malek told WhoSay. "As technically accurate as we are with all the computer stuff, we wanted to be as accurate with the illness and the emotions."

"We respected it as much as possible," Slater continued. 

In a time where mental illness continue to be stigmatized and demonized, having the ability to relate to these characters grappling with the same issues means the world. 

"It takes away that sense and feeling of being alone," Slater explained. "That's another responsibility of our industry, to shed light on certain things and expose it and just remind people that [they're] not unusual."

"Everybody is still trying to achieve something for better or worse, to try to persevere, to be as hopeful as they can," Malek said. "Hopefully this show gives everybody more of the power to do that."