Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Sam Esmail Celebrate ‘Mr. Robot’ Season 2 Success

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.”

More Scene

  • Sean Penn CORE Gala

    Sean Penn Offers to Take Selfies in Exchange for $5,000 Donations to Disaster Relief

    A decade after the catastrophic 7.0 Haiti earthquake left between 50,000 and 100,000 dead and nearly a million people displaced, Sean Penn hosted the 10th anniversary CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) gala, raising funds for international disaster relief at the Wiltern Theatre on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. “We’re not here tonight because we want [...]

  • Allison Janney Viola Davis

    Viola Davis & Allison Janney React to Lack of Diversity in 2020 Oscar Nominations

    Monday morning’s Oscar nominations rebooted the #OscarsSoWhite conversation, reigniting discussion about representation after women were shut out of the directing category and only one person of color — Cynthia Erivo — was nominated in the acting categories. At the premiere of Amazon Original’s “Troop Zero” at The Grove in Los Angeles on Monday evening, the [...]

  • Star Trek Picard Premiere

    'Picard' Stars Reveal Which 'Star Trek' Character They Would Get Drunk With

    The cast and creators of “Star Trek: Picard” turned out for the show’s premiere at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Monday night. In the spirit of the festive atmosphere of the night, Variety asked them which “Star Trek” character, past or present, they’d most like to pound a few Romulan ales with at the local [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Laura Dern

    Inside the 2020 Critics' Choice Awards: What You Didn't See on TV

    ‘Twas the night before Oscar nominations and all through the ballroom, the Barker Hanger was buzzing as critics mixed and mingled with A-listers inside the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday night. Life Achievement winner Eddie Murphy, #SeeHer honoree Kristen Bell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Bong Joon Ho were among the big names who played [...]

  • Taye Diggs Critics Choice

    Critics' Choice Awards: The Complete Winners List

    The 25th annual Critics’ Choice Awards gala, hosted by Taye Diggs, was broadcast live on The CW on Sunday night. It was a good night for both Netflix and HBO, with the studios taking home trophies for movies and shows like “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “When They See Us,” “Watchmen” and “Succession.” “Once Upon a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content