Sam Esmail, the creator and writer of Mr. Robot, arguably the best new television series of 2015, and Martin Wallstrom, who plays Tyrell Wellick in the series, attended NYCC to meet with some of the show's fans, talk about the future of the series, and recruit more hackers to join FSociety (obviously).
With an insane cliffhanger at the conclusion of season one, our interview with Esmail and Wallstrom jumped right into the hype surrounding Tyrell's fate on the show.
Is it a challenge to keep the secret of what’s happened to Tyrell?
Sam Esmail: Incredibly. Even on the car ride here [the cast was] all asking me questions because they don’t know.
Martin Wallstrom: I was silent!
SE: Yeah, Martin was silent [laughs] because he knows better. It’s a pretty big challenge.
Were you surprised by all of the fan support for Tyrell Wellick on the show?
MW: I think I was because, I mean, he’s a villain and I didn’t think people would like him so much as I think they do. I didn’t know that. With his relationship with his wife, you kind of start to feel sympathy for Tyrell and you realize that, ‘Ok, he’s not the only mastermind here. He’s losing it a bit.' I think that kind of brought some sympathy into the character. I was surprised; I was in LA a couple of weeks ago and people were coming up to me saying ‘I love the show,’ and I was ‘Wow. I didn’t know it was that big.’
We know that all of season one was written prior to any filming. Are you planning on writing all of season two beforehand as well?
SE: Yeah, with a show like this... it’s even weird to call it episodic because we don’t think of it like that. We actually think about the whole story and then cut it up. But there are so many little things that we’re setting up in episode two that pays off in episode eight. It’s hard to just try and write as we shoot, so we look at it more like we’re making a feature.
Are you looking to end Mr. Robot after a certain number of seasons?
SE: Yes. Probably four. I would say four and at max five. In my head, I kind of mapped out a little bit about where… I know where we’re ending and the stages to get there.
Because you have a clear knowledge of where the story will go, are the actors guided more on set? Are they allowed to improvise at all?
MW: I don’t think we ever improvised.
SE: No, and you’re not allowed to [laughs].
MW: We talked about that sometimes. In episode three or five, I asked Sam ‘Am I lying here?’ and he was like ‘It doesn't matter.’ And that was so great because I felt, well it doesn't matter, and I felt guided here and so, I felt very comforted by that, when you just play along.
We noticed that you mentioned the Ashley Madison hack in one of the later episodes in the series. Do you look to keep the scripts as current as possible with real world news?
SE: Going in to writing the show, I said that I really wanted to be of our times. I really wanted to make a show of today and I want to embrace it in every detail. I think in one of the scenes actually with [Martin] and Joanna, you actually see the decision about the Boston bomber coming out in the news program in the background. There was a reviewer who said that our show can’t help to be dated in a year or two because of our technology, and I actually don’t mind that. One of the things that I always say is that we’re actually making a period piece about today and we’re just going to embrace it fully.
Has the story line for Mr. Robot been affected by real recent hacks like at Sony?
SE: No… I guess a little bit? For example, in episode two F Society starts releasing the data dumps, revealing all the secrets of Evil Corp. That was something I had in my head before the Sony hack, but that’s something that the hackers did in the Sony hack, which was a major reason why Sony kind of shut down for a while. But you know it’s weird, there’ve been a lot of hacking stories before then that inspired me to write. I wrote the pilot a couple of years ago now and it just all of a sudden, the timing of it… it got very popular. We got picked up on the day that the SONY hack got announced. It was kind of uncanny.
MW: That’s why it got picked up!
We strongly doubt that was the reason Mr. Robot was picked up by USA Network, and after winning a Golden Globe and Critic's Choice Award for best new drama, we're confident the network is happy that they did.
Keep up with PopWrapped for more on Mr. Robot, which is set to premiere its second season this summer.