Mr. Robot should give you a bit of paranoia. USA’s new show will make you wonder just who can get under the hood of your Internet history—and what they’re willing to do with it. While the titular Mr. Robot is shrouded in a bit of mystery, viewers quickly get to know Elliot, a cyber-security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night—who might end up doing a bit more for that night job.
We sat down with actor Rami Malek (The War at Home, Night at the Museum) to discuss how safe he feels on the net now and how it was working with Christian Slater.
What drew you to this story? What can you tell us about the show?
Given everything happening in society today, it was incredibly exciting to read a script that was so timely and culturally relevant. Not only that, but the character of Elliot was so complex and complicated—I was immediately drawn to his character.
The series is a psychological thriller that follows Elliot as a young computer programmer who works at a cyber-security firm defending a corporation he despises. The show is about human connection and technology, and how we, as a society, have a hard time connecting with one another. We technically can do it, but are we really connecting?
Suddenly the ability to code is very hip, in a way it hasn’t been before. Do you personally have any coding prowess?
Personally I don’t, however, I’ve learned a lot throughout the season. We have a tech consultant who makes sure everything we put on screen is accurate and true to form. I’ve also done my fair share of research to make sure I’m representing the hacking community correctly.
What have you learned from working on this show? Do you feel like you can avoid being hacked now?
Anyone that is concerned about being hacked or wants to know how that happens is going to find this show informative, scary, and enlightening at the same time. It’s not difficult for people to watch you at home. The microphone on your computer can be accessed, so can the camera— it’s not that difficult. So I’m definitely more cautious now. I’ve put a piece of tape over my computer’s camera and signed up for two-step verification.
This show also deals with the human connection. Can you tell us how Elliot will fair with people as the season progresses?
For me, Elliot represents a very real hero. He’s relatable and a real example of what society is today. We can feel incredibly connected to our friends and family via social media, but it’s hard to call that a connection when it’s behind a screen.
You see Elliot tackle this throughout the season. In some ways he tries to connect in a more traditional sense, but it’s hard for him. He’s out of his comfort zone, so you’ll see a very vulnerable side to him. I feel honored to play someone with this much depth and emotion.
How was it working with Christian Slater. What can you tell us about the titular Mr. Robot?
It’s been great working with Christian. We’ve really developed a special bond off-screen throughout filming, and I think that will really come across on-screen.
There is a lot more to the Mr. Robot character than what you see on the pilot and I’m excited for audiences to see that play out. The other characters (“Darlene,” “Angela,” and “Tyrell”) are also very robust. There’s something for everyone on this series—regardless of age, gender, or computer skills.
When you have time, what TV shows do you watch? What are some of your all-time favorites?
I would say Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and Veep—the usual suspects. The West Wing is my all-time favorite. Next level writing on all those shows, but Aaron Sorkin is from outer space.
Watch the premiere of Mr. Robot right now, and tune in when it begins airing on Wednesday, June 24 at 10/9c on USA (Ch. 242).