After a groundbreaking first season, Mr. Robot has more than earned its reputation as one of the most fascinating TV shows—and not just because it’s thrilling to watch the drama unfold. The USA series has been lauded for its accurate representation of the hacker world’s advanced technology, employing often mind-boggling strategies and coding keywords that aren’t quite a part of the average viewer’s daily vocabulary. (Raspberry pi, anyone?)
But we’re not the only ones who have had to look up the meanings behind some of the show’s key phrases. Christian Slater—aka, Mr. Robot himself—made a valiant effort to be as prepared as possible before filming began in order to keep up with his character (and impress the show’s tech whiz creator, Sam Esmail). “I went immediately to Google Search and Wikipedia, looked up all these terms, and learned about everything as much as I possibly could,” Slater said during a panel at South by Southwest in April. “It is an ever-evolving situation—so to stay current, it’s very, very tricky. As soon as I learned everything and got [to the set], literally all of those terms were already outdated and completely null and void. But I’ve gotten, I think, much better since.”
Rami Malek also felt some pressure to appear as computer literate as his onscreen counterpart, cyber security engineer Elliot Alderson. To keep up with his hacker character, Malek decided to get a head start and arrive to set before filming began. “You have to come in a little bit early,” he told reporters at the same panel. “I have to look at all of the animations and graphics and go through it with the tech guys.” Heading into season two, Malek has grown accustomed to typing code at rapid-fire speed. “It’s gotten so much better,” he said.
While adjusting to the fast-paced world of Mr. Robot may understandably be a challenge, the show’s leading ladies—Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, and Stephanie Corneliussen—recently told InStyle that they’ve gotten the hang of things rather quickly. So, we asked the three actresses: Who’s the most tech-savvy star on the show? Scroll down to see what they said and tune in for the premiere of the second season this Wednesday, July 13 at 10 p.m. ET on USA.
1. Carly Chaikin
“Probably me—but Stephanie [Corneliussen] is pretty good, too,” said Chaikin, who plays Elliott’s sister and fsociety co-founder, Darlene. “We don’t know how to actually code, but I wish that I did. It’s so much harder than anyone could possibly imagine—it’s like learning German. One of the writers does all of the coding for everything you see on screens during the show, and someone walks us through everything we’re going to do or see on screens in a scene. You have to hit certain keys to get something to appear or change, so we need to prep for exactly what buttons to hit. It takes something like three weeks of programming for one screen that’s on camera for maybe 30 seconds—and we get to pretend it was us who did the work. We have the easy part.”
2. Portia Doubleday
“Rami definitely isn’t,” said Doubleday, who stars as the Aldersons' longtime friend, Angela Moss. “Carly is pretty tech-savvy. I kind of know my way around, but I’m definitely not a hacker. I tried to look up hacking and then got too afraid that I was going to get hacked.”
3. Stephanie Corneliussen
“I think I’m actually the most tech-savvy one,” said Corneliussen, who plays Joanna, the estranged wife of former E Corp exec Tyrell Wellick. “My father is an expert on technology and digital media, and I’ve got to say, the Internet gives you a very false sense of security. You can find out anything about anyone. A funny story—a while back I was on Wikipedia and I saw Carly and Portia’s pictures on their pages. I didn’t like them, so I changed them without them knowing. And then one day, I heard someone on set tell Carly that it was a great picture of her. I didn’t say anything at the time, but now she knows that I was the one who did it.”
—With reporting by Christina Shanahan