For the first time since September’s Emmy Awards, the cast of “Mr. Robot” reunited for a special SAG panel at the NeueHouse Hollywood on Wednesday evening to discuss season two of the buzzy cyber series. Stars Rami Malek and Christian Slater opened up about the joys and challenges of their roles on USA Network’s acclaimed psychological thriller, before joining show creator Sam Esmail onstage for a Q&A session.
“I was just shooting a movie in Serbia and so many young kids came out and waited outside my hotel to talk to me about [‘Mr. Robot’]. They had nothing but good things to say about the show and how the characters have affected them. I’ve never had that experience before,” said Malek, who stars as lonely vigilante hacker Elliot Alderson. “I’m very proud of what Sam has created and that the show is bringing attention to people suffering with mental illness. To help people around the world is very satisfying.”
Malek earned an Emmy Award for best actor in September, and the series won two Golden Globes — best TV drama and supporting actor for Slater — earlier this year.
“It’s certainly one of the best jobs I’ve had,” said Slater, who has acted in nearly 100 film and television projects. “I’ve learned to appreciate every moment and be grateful for it. Being a part of this show and having other experiences that didn’t necessarily go in the direction that I would have liked to have gone in has certainly made this a much deeper and gratifying experience.”
For Malek, portraying a character who is uncensored is one of his favorite aspects of the role. “The things that he gets to say are on all of our minds and to actually get to say it day in and day out on camera is a fun and surreal experience that you don’t have as a human being,” he explained. “It’s something that we all wish we could have in one moment or another and that’s one thing that I love about him.”
The hardest part for Malek is to authentically portray his character’s anti-social disorder. “There are so many people in the world who are suffering silently like Elliot. So it’s important that I do it as accurately as possible. It’s a difficult thing to do in one sense and it’s invigorating in another because it brings the reality to so many people at home watching. These kinds of trials for people exist.”
As for Slater, “the challenge is really in the writing and getting all the dialogue in my head,” he said. “When you get involved in a television show, it’s a very fast moving train, but something that I learned from Lars von Trier is not to rush through and to take your time and appreciate the writing, which will help your performance feel more real in the end.”
Esmail emphasized that casting the right actors is more important than a project’s storyline. “A TV show is only as great as its characters. I don’t really give a shit about plot,” he said. “We’ve seen all the plots and who cares. It’s about the characters, how they make those choices, how interesting they are, what their worldview is like. That, to me, is the thing that really is fascinating.”
Some highlights from the panel included a blooper reel and Carly Chaiken‘s audition tape – in which she acted out the scene in season one where Elliot first meets her while taking a shower. Other cast members present included Portia Doubleday, Grace Gummer and Stephanie Corneliussen.
The premiere date for season three has yet to be announced by the network, and the cast gave few hints about the upcoming season. Esmail remained coy about any plot details, but gave a one-word description for season three: “Disintegration.”