‘Mr. Robot’s’ Rami Malek Talks Costar Christian Slater, Hacker Intrigue

“To read a script that’s so relevant doesn’t happen very often,” the actor tells TheWrap

Last Updated: June 24, 2015 @ 11:21 AM

USA Network’s original series “Mr. Robot” is a technological thriller for a new age, but don’t expect the usual robots and fantasy props. Instead, Rami Malek stars as Elliot — a socially awkward, cyber-security engineer by day and hacker extraordinaire by night — who lives in a very normal world.

In contrast to sci-fi shows premiering this summer, such as ABC Family’s “Stitchers” and AMC’s “Humans,” creator Sam Esmail‘s “Mr. Robot” stands out as a drama with a theme relevant to current times: cyber-intrigue. Christian Slater plays the titular Mr. Robot, the mysterious leader of an underground hacker unit who recruits Elliot to take down the firm he is paid to protect.

“It’s a world that Sam created that was nothing else that I’ve tackled before. It read better than anything I had seen in quite a while. It’s something that’s incredibly timely, given everything that’s happening in our society. And to read a script that’s so relevant doesn’t happen very often,” Malek told TheWrap.

The actor said he was drawn to Elliot because of the character’s complexity, though taking on the role proved to be difficult at times. The actor found it especially hard to be socially awkward.

“We’re incredibly dissimilar in a lot of ways, but I’ve found a way to connect with him and put my best efforts toward making him come alive, which I’ve enjoyed,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Malek notes the dynamic of the cast and crew as part of the reason the show works. He is particularly grateful for costar Slater and executive producer Esmail.

[Christian’s] definitely experienced. I’ve learned from him because he’s been in the business for so long. We have a very natural chemistry,” Malek said. “[Sam] keeps us all incredibly focused on the story he’s trying to tell.”

Mr. Robot - Pilot

Thanks to Esmail, Malek says his job as an actor was made simpler. As soon as he read the script, he didn’t feel like “Mr. Robot” was another “generic television show.”

“What I love about this show is that it feels like we’re making a film,” he said. “I’m fortunate enough to have scripts that are incredibly well thought out and characters that are written with such depth. It feels like a lot of the work has already been done for us. Some of the best things on TV feel incredibly cinematic.”

Though the series has only just begun, Malek is aware of the direction “Mr. Robot” is heading in.

“All I know is that our writer-creator Sam Esmail has a trajectory for where the show is going. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end to it,” he said. “I’m fairly confident that this is not something that would go any longer than five seasons, because there is an end. I’m not privy to that end, but I know there is one.”

Elliot and “Mr. Robot” are a first for Malek, who is accustomed to playing supporting characters on film and television. He most famously played Merriell “Snafu” Shelton on the HBO miniseries “The Pacific” and Ahkmenrah on “Night at the Museum.” Playing the lead is a new experience, but he is not opposed to taking on smaller roles in the future.

“Whatever the size of the role is, I’ve always thought if it was well-written and a story that I felt needed to be told, I would like to be a part of it in any way, shape or form,” he said.

“The Pacific” is the project he is most proud of. Malek helped tell the story of a real person who “fought for our freedom in an incredibly heroic time,” as he said, and is proud to have his name on it.

“Having said that, I’m not yet done playing Elliot. We’re only scratching the surface with Elliot,” Malek said.

The first episode is available on USA’s website. It was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, director 2009 film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” that starred Noomi Rapace. Oplev is also executive producer on “Mr. Robot.”

“Mr. Robot” premieres Wednesday, June 24 at 10 p.m. EST on USA.


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