Rami Malek’s Mr Robot character Elliot Alderson takes socially awkward cyber geek to a whole new level.
Being awkward is nothing new to Rami Malek, who plays hacker Elliot in Mr Robot. Season 2 Thursdays M-Net Edge (*102) 21:00
Mr Robot (2015- current) was one of last year’s surprise hits. Few expected that a thriller about computer hackers and cyber-terrorism would gather a massive cult following, as well as reaping multiple awards for series stars Rami Malek (as depressed, druggie cyber security expert Elliot) and Christian Slater (as Elliot’s late dad and cyber terrorist Mr Robot). Mr Robot is a dark and complicated story, full of shocking twists and turns, like the reveal that Elliot and Mr Robot are the same person. It’s a tricky storyline to follow – good thing we could ask 35-year-old Rami about the show!
It’s quite unusual that you get all of the scripts together at the start of filming. Did that change the way you played anything? Having everything ahead of time was the requisite from the studio. Having that at your disposal allows you to chart a path for your character. Elliot does go to some pretty dark places – I thought that I had him down at the end of the first season, but I realised after reading these [season 2] scripts that I didn’t even really scratch the surface of who this guy is. And now, dealing with his evolution of the relationship to Mr Robot, there was so much more to dig into this season. You see parts of Elliot coming to terms with where he is in his reality right now. Elliot and his hacker group are outsiders. Do you feel much like an outsider? A little bit less so than when I was starting on Mr Robot. I thought about this when they were casting and I had doubts if it was going to be me because I don’t think you had seen someone play a role like this and be the lead of a show. I’m sure that it’s happened, but with my ethnicity being Egyptian, I thought that it was going to be a real hard sell. But I think that’s the changing landscape of entertainment today and I’ve always felt like an outsider in the way I think and just wanting to be an actor. All the kids I grew up with had different aspirations and coming from a world where I’m expected to be a doctor or a lawyer, my family never really thought that acting would be the most lucrative and easy business – and it isn’t until you get to a certain point. How have fans received you? What I’m most proud of is fanmail from people who have mental health disorders or So how is your knowledge of computers, technology and hacking? Not very good [Laughs] It’s a work in progress. I’d like to think that those aspects are some of my best acting because it’s something that I’m not adept to. But I have help – we have a lot of technical advisors. You’re being recognised a lot now, thanks to Mr Robot… It’s wild – when we started, I could walk down the street and no one knew who I was. The response is amazing and I’ll stop for anyone – if you’re a fan of the show and know who I am and who I’m playing, that means the world to me. It just means getting to the grocery store and movies takes a lot longer sometimes [Laughs]…
Our celebrity correspondent
Margaret Gardiner is a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Born in SA, the former Miss Universe winner now lives in LA. She’s written two books and regularly interviews showbiz’s biggest stars.