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‘Mr. Robot’ Star Portia Doubleday on Angela’s Motives, Her Love for Elliot, and What’s Ahead for Season 3

'Mr. Robot' Star Portia Doubleday on
Courtesy USA Network

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the Season 2 finale of “Mr. Robot.”

Angela (Portia Doubleday) has been on quite the journey in the second season of USA’s hit “Mr. Robot.” After her Prada moment in the first season finale, she went ever deeper into Evil Corp. She literally dined with the devil, Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer). She tried to play hacker and got caught by Dom (Grace Gummer). And then she came face-to-face with Whiterose herself (B.D. Wong), who somehow convinced her to abandon her mission with those Washington Township documents.

Angela was barely seen in the finale, except for those final moments where she gets that chilling phone call from Tyrell (Martin Wallstrom), who’s just shot Elliot (Rami Malek). Is she now working with the Dark Army? Can she be trusted?

“I was very pleased with everyone’s reaction,” Doubleday tells Variety. “They seemed pretty surprised and confused.”

At the start of the season, how much did creator Sam Esmail tell you? What did you know about what was is in store?

He tells me everything. He tells us all everything. He called me and basically in a little over an hour, told me everything that was going to happen, which is great. For me, I really like that process. Especially this year, when we were block shooting. Angela changes a lot, it was important to know ahead of time and have an idea how I was going to structure that throughout the season. So yes, I did know everything.

What questions did you ask?

My brain is overloaded at this point! I still get surprised by things that I’ve forgotten about and how they connect to everybody. The question I ask him a lot just generally what Angela’s general function is in the picture, because I know she’s interwoven with very specific things, and that is a question I don’t think I will be able to get the answer to for a long time. That is a inkling for me because I think that especially the first and second season, she’s drastically different. That might occur again the third season, I’m not sure yet. I know that he’s inching her in a direction. I have a inkling, I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to play out.

Her loyalties shifted vastly throughout the season, and we saw them land with the Dark Army. Can we trust that? Is she really working with them?

What I will say — and I give kudos to the writers and Sam, and why I really like playing Angela — is she’s realistic. She’s complex and layered which makes her unpredictable. A lot of people had said after the first season, she drank the Kool-Aid. Angela’s evil now and that’s where she’s heading after that Prada moment. She’s far too complex. That is shown in the second season where you see her being seduced by the environment that she’s in. She’s seduced by Price because she wants to be him. She wants to have that power and respect and validation. At the same time, the turmoil that exists within Angela forces her to go back and forth throughout the season. She had a plan of attack of how she was going to get into the risk management department. But I think there were moments when even she herself questioned the actions she was making. But for the third season — and I think this is what Sam does so well — I don’t think any of the characters will be predictable. Angela has certain weaknesses with certain people. And that was shown this season. Sam said to me, remember who you are with Darlene and Elliot. Because that’s different than who are you with Price and who you are in that world. There’s something about you that brings you back to a certain authenticity. In the third season, I really don’t know about where she’s going with the Dark Army. I don’t think you can predict what she’s going to do.

Her motivation always seemed to be getting justice for her mother. Is that still her motivation?

I do think there’s a white knight quality about her. The thing that I loved most about Angela this season, what resonated most about her, was her use of the positive affirmations. I thought that was such a smart decision by Sam. She’s so concerned with controlling herself and subduing her emotions. You saw that shift throughout the season. I think that’s why at the end she’s extremely malleable. Because she’s essentially been trying to brainwash herself with the guilt of working in this company. And of having feelings of wanting to be in Price’s position. At the same time struggling with the fact that she does want that justice. What does it look like to get that justice? So the positive affirmations definitely were a big in for me to explore who she was. Just even aesthetically, she’s very angular. Everything is very perfect and structured. You watch that especially on the train with Elliot. It’s over. It didn’t work. She’s changed by that point by everything that didn’t happen. Deep down, it’s the same reason she’s different with Elliot and Darlene. My question would be, if she’s going to be able to, given what has transpired between her and Whiterose. Something drastic obviously happened in that conversation that completely changed her demeanor.

So what happened in that conversation?

I don’t even know what to tell you. Before the Whiterose thing happened, I asked Sam. He wouldn’t tell me. Who would be able to predict that arc, that room, with that little girl? When we did the Antara scene, I had to ask him what is motivating this change? Who am I? He had to help me a lot. It’s a big deal, whatever happened to her.

In that phone call with Tyrell at the end of the episode, you were oddly calm. It’s almost as if you anticipated Elliot was going to be shot.

You’re asking the same things I asked Sam. He has not told me. It will have a lot to do with Season 3. I am so interested to see what she’s going to do. Throughout, she loves Elliot. Without a doubt. I don’t know that that will ever be taken from her. She’s not going to be able to disconnect from him, because that’s a constant. The same with her relationship with Darlene. So I’m interested to see how her dynamics shift in the next season. Because I do think that they will.

Sam said the one thing we can always trust in is her love for Elliot.

Really? OK, so I was right! I will say he did tell me a couple pieces that will be in Season 3, and that was a question that I asked him a lot, too. It’s going to set up the transition of who she is in the next season and I think it’s an important thing to know. I don’t know that it still won’t change their dynamic given what he has undergone but I do think that that has been consistent from the beginning. I think she has a weakness for him. And him, her, in a certain way from the beginning. I think there’s always been this kind of romantic flame underneath everything (with Elliot). In the first season, she says to Darlene, “I can’t do this again. I can’t go through this with him again. I can’t be there for him anymore.” Which is heartbreaking for her. I think they never had a chance. They both felt that way about each other. Which is why on the train they had that moment and kissed each other — it’s always been there. She even says to him, can you believe that we’re here? How did we get here? What Sam said to me that was really interesting, because the characters are so different, what connects them is they both wanted to change the world. They both wanted to compromise society and they wanted to make a difference. And they both lost a parent. Even Whiterose talked about that, which was really interesting — that it isn’t a coincidence that this is happened to both of you. I don’t know what was behind him saying that.

Talk about her relationship with Darlene (Carly Chaikin). There was a tension between them this season. What’s ahead for them for next season?

I think there’s something that happened in their childhood. Darlene was the younger sibling, and Angela and Elliot would run away together and go to these museums and escape how terrible their childhood was. The only people they had was each other. I think Darlene and Angela are very different and were operating on opposite sides, especially after the FBI hack. They do not agree. I love the moment in Angela’s apartment. We’re having this dispute, but Darlene comes and sits right next to her. That’s who they are. That’s who they’ve always been. That intimacy and connection since they were really little. Their weakness is each other. It will be interesting for me to see if that’s ever messed with. I’d like to see if there could be potentially be something to compromise that relationship. Angela has no friends, no family. The only ones she really does know, and the only ones that know the real her, are those two characters (Darlene and Elliot). So I’d be interested to see if there’s anything that could trump that relationship. Because it would have to be something incredibly enticing to Angela. Her weakness is them. Those two characters keep her in check. But I don’t know now what will happen, because Whiterose has done something.

Is there one burning question you have for Season 3?

I want to know where Flipper is? Just kidding. I keep reading that! I really want to know what’s going to happen with Darlene. Because she’s gone through so much turmoil this season. I want to know how that’s going to affect her next season. She killed somebody this season. And everything that happened to Cisco and with her and Dom. I’m interested to see how she’s going to change, how it’s going to alter her views of this revolution that she’s been fighting for, if it’s going to change her personality. Where’s this going to go? That would be my question. And it’s never going to be answered.