I know what you may be thinking. You might be thinking that my writing this is just an excuse to talk about Mr Robot some more after Season 2 ended recently. You’d be half right, it’s an incredible show and I’m certain that not enough people have watched it because I’ve hardly got anybody to discuss it with. It has to be said though just how incredible Rami Malek is in this show. How have we not seen him cast in more brilliant things before?
Looking back over Malek’s previous roles, I have to admit I hadn’t seen a lot of him before onscreen. I remember him for small bit parts in Gilmore Girls for example and supporting film roles such as Battleship and Need for Speed. I feel bad for not noticing him more before this. It’s easy to see why he won his Emmy for his performance as Elliott Alderson. He’s captivating. Most of his performance comes from his body language and those eyes. So big and bug-like, they pull off every look from drug-addled hacker to scared and lonely individual to excitement and joy. It’s quite a feat to be able to pull off almost two performances at any given moment. What with the Elliott other people see and the knowing one we deal with that narrates to us.
It’s possibly one of the best recorded approaches to documenting mental health and illness that I’ve seen. It doesn’t try to blame the one suffering from it, nor does it simplify it or make a mockery of it. Instead we see the struggle. It’s always interesting when a show or film allows an unreliable narrator to dictate it. So much of Mr Robot is about trying to figure out if what is happening is real. Season 2 even more so than Season 1. I won’t spoil any of the big reveals but a couple of them made me say ‘what?!’ out loud. It handles the topic with care, allowing us to observe and to almost get a first-hand feel at how painful it can be to those it inflicts. The portrayals of those trying to help Elliott feel real and grounded too. People worldwide have been able to gain confidence and relate to Malek’s portrayal in one way or another. It felt fitting that he dedicated his Emmy to ‘all the Elliott’s out there’.
In part of my falling down the rabbit hole of trivia about Mr Robot, I read a fair few interviews, both with Sam Esmail ( the show’s genius creator) and with Rami. Both were fascinating in how they discussed the show. The creator in particular with how he talked about the show. So much of the show and whether or not you were convinced by it in the first season relied on Malek’s delivery and role. Season 2 allowed the other characters to step up and we began to see more of Elliott through their eyes or their viewpoints. They, much as we do as viewers, generally care about him a lot.
I was trying to recall other performances that switch so brilliantly in the blink of an eye and to do so, you’re stepping into the territory of film greats. The likes of Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman for example in American Pyscho. I’m not trying to say Malek or his character are psychopaths, but it’s that ability to entirely change so quickly and to verge from happy and calm to crazy and panicked. This role has truly given the actor something to sink his teeth into and flex all of those acting muscles. He nails it on every level as well. Playing somebody who doesn’t even trust their own mind sometimes can’t be entirely easy but there’s never a moment of doubt as a viewer watching him.
He has great chemistry with practically every character he comes into contact with. How he is with Angela in particular is fascinating. Their on the subway awkward but sweet encounter was a highlight. But I like how he and Darlene interact. The conversations he has with Mr Robot obviously top the list, but he’s a natural alongside anybody. We should hopefully be in store for more of he and Tyrell in season three too which is a strange match-up, but incredibly intriguing.
While I’m incredibly excited to see which direction Mr Robot takes us and Malek in next, what I’m really saying is, please casting directors, utilise this incredible talent more! (And half of the actors in this show preferably).