Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
Mr. Robot changed the television game this past season with its complex storytelling and mesmerizing characters. Leading a strong and insightful cast of characters is Elliot played by the extremely talented Rami Malek. His portrayal of Elliot has led him to critical acclaim and even landed him a 2016 Emmy Award nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
At SDCC 2016, Rami Malek sat down with us to chat about the fallout after the massive hack, Elliot and Mr. Robot’s dynamic and what’s ahead for Elliot.
From the moment you turn on the first episode of Mr. Robot, Rami Malek has you eating out of the palm of his hand. His work on the show is mesmerizing and his acting has reached new heights. Speaking about preparing for the dark moments Elliot faces, Malek says, “Some days I really need to go to a quiet place and get there emotionally. Sometimes it helps to be close to Sam [Esmail] and the cast because I depend on them. There is that feeling of nurture that I need sometimes before I go into something that grim.”
Malek continues saying that he tries to get as close to Elliot as he can before the heavy, emotional scenes. He says the grim scenes, “aren’t that challenging.” Malek continues saying, “I look forward to that because he goes to some dark places physically and emotionally, mentally. That’s what makes him so special, to me is that he somehow manages to get himself out of them anyway. That’s what makes him who he is. He’s relentless.”
Malek remarks about Elliot’s resilience in Mr. Robot saying, “He’s conflicted and he’s under so much pressure and yet he squirms his way out of things. I think that’s what makes him the hero that he is for so many. It’s because he’s flawed. His ethics are questions throughout the show. You’ve gotta say, the guy perseveres through some really difficult hardships.”
Looking at season two, Malek says they’re still dealing with the fallout of the hack. He says, “We deal with the fallout quite a bit. Obviously you can already see he’s conflicted and feels very guilty about what is happening with Gideon [Michel Gill]. There’s more to come for him.”
One special quality fans and Malek love about Mr. Robot is the somewhat gruesome real world element to the show. Malek says, “The special thing about this show is we don’t live in this fairytale land where you can just destroy the worlds economy and everything is going to be better because of it. I think Sam has looked at situations all over the world where uprisings and social changes that have occurred have left power vacuums and left government and societies in disrepair.” He continues saying, “That’s not something to shy away from. There’s this big question, at what cost would you like to effect your society and the world you live in. What are the repercussions of that? What that will be for Elliot remains to be seen. I doubt that it’s going to be pleasant.”
Of course the biggest curve ball Mr. Robot threw fans in season one was the real nature of Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Malek discusses how the monumental twist will affect Elliot in season two. He says, “I went to Sam when we first started shooting and obviously he [Elliot] has to come to terms with this. How is he going to come to terms with this.” Malek is working very hard to get this aspect of Elliot’s personality right. He’s working with a psychologist to help him relate to Elliot’s position. He says, “She’s taught me a lot about the feelings that occur after the discovery and there’s shame and denial and all those regrets that happen. There’s of course some acceptance.”
In terms of Malek playing Elliot differently now that he knows Mr. Robot is all in his head. Malek says, “I told Sam, I’m not going to look at him [Christian Slater] a lot. I’m not going to give him anything. I said, ‘Christian is going to have a hard time acting with me this year.’ Sam looked at me and was like, ‘You’re not going to look at him?’ Yeah, I don’t want to.” He continues saying, “There have been many takes where I don’t even acknowledge Christian. I feel bad from an actor. I’m so sorry man, I’m giving you nothing.”
With Elliot being the main character, Mr. Robot presents fans with a somewhat “unreliable narrator.” Someone who may not give the audience the whole truth. Malek talks about this idea of the unreliable narrator saying that everything is very real for Elliot. He says, “If you have been with Elliot throughout this journey, you know he’s talking to you. They better be real to you because they’re real to him.” He continues saying, “As far as the rest of the story goes, things may or may not come crashing down on us, but we are in it together. That’s what’s cool about it. It’s a convoluted or questionable world where he’s at. You should also question why you are watching it. I think, I think things are a bit more real than people have surmounted.”