The full interview first appeared at ScreenSpy on Oct. 14, 2015. For the video portion of the interview, please click here.
Mr. Robot, USA Network’s summer hacker hit, has taken the television world by storm. Its quiet, nerve-wracking tension and the sharply driven narrative have catapulted a series in its screen infancy into one of the best dramas of 2015.
The show stars Rami Malek as Elliot, an antisocial cyber security engineer by day and genius hacker vigilante by night. His disillusionment with society, coupled with his tenacious sense of morality, has led him to track down the country’s richest and worst; the people who profit both personally and financially off the backs of others.
But when he’s approached by a strange leader of an underground hacker group, known ominously as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), Elliot finds himself lured into the idea that he can permanently stop the people who are running the world from ruining it.
Just before Mr. Robot stars Christian Slater and Rami Malek appeared at New York Comic Con’s Hammerstein Ballroom to a packed house on Friday, they spoke with ScreenSpy about the series’ ‘hit’ status, working together and what it was like to shoot in Times Square.
Considering Slater and Malek’s bankability, and creator Sam Esmail’s vision, the series could have easily achieved a modest degree of success. Most series though take a full season to find themselves — and for audiences to find them — which may be why many initially underestimated the show’s potential to reach its current level of critical acclaim.
That includes the series’ leads, who knew they had a good story, but were still unable to anticipate the degree to which it would be positively received.
“We knew we had something really good on our hands and we just wanted to give it the service it deserved,” Malek explained. “But no one could have anticipated this.”
“We started with the pilot at South By Southwest Film Festival and immediately I just thought ‘Well, that’s unique in and of itself.’ A television show screening at a film festival — I just thought that was very unusual,” Slater added. “Then winning the audience award there I went ‘Wow, okay.’ But you’re still kinda going ‘Eh, I know I like the show but are [other] people actually?’ It’s always surprising.”
Many would argue that Mr. Robot‘s unexpected rise to hit status is due in large part to its smart and stylish shooting. Two scenes in particular, both filmed in Times Square though revealed at opposite ends of the season, immediately come to mind.
For Slater, it was a uniquely exciting experience, especially as a native of the ‘Big Apple.’
“When I read it I was very — well, I was excited,” Slater shared. “First of all, I’m a New Yorker, so the idea of getting to do a scene in Times Square was thrilling. But this wasn’t just any scene. This was a very unique and, I thought, a beautifully written speech.”
“I was excited, then got very nervous about it,” Slater continued. “I knew [Rami Malek] had shot a scene already in Times Square and had talked about what it was like being there. Just the crowd and the lights, and the people milling about whenever they see a camera, which can just be absolutely insane. So that all made me nervous.”