There's a new agent in town for Season 2 of Sam Esmail's hacker drama Mr. Robot (catch the latest episode tonight on USA). Grace Gummer joins the case as FBI field agent Dominique "Dom" DiPierro, whose mission is to investigate the Evil Corp hack orchestrated by Rami Malek's character, Elliot Alderson. Luckily, Gummer, who most recently starred in HBO's Confirmation, is no stranger to mastering intense scenes (she is Meryl Streep's daughter, after all). We caught up with the actress to get the scoop on what it's like to hang out with real-life CIA agents and the surprising way she and Malek first met.
Did you watch the show before you got the part?
I didn’t watch the show before I went into the audition. I actually watched it after my audition, and got very excited about it and was really hoping that I’d get the part, otherwise I’d have been disappointed. The show really personally resonated with me.
Did you kind of get hooked after you watched those first couple of episodes of Season 1?
For sure. And as I was getting close to getting the part, I realized I probably had to know what was going on in the first season. So it was a good thing that I watched it. I sort of binged it and listened very carefully. It was funny to watch a show just knowing that you’re going to be on and to listen for all the details. That was cool. And everyone involved is so awesome and welcoming and it was sort of like I’d already been there in a way, because my part is so essential to the storyline—we were already a family.
It seems like a tight-knit group on set. What was your experience like getting to know your castmates?
Well, I knew Rami Malek from the start. We’d worked together on the very first film I did. It was called Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks. We were students together in a class that was taught by Julia Roberts, and we spent all this time together, Rami and I. We would shuffle back and forth together on set. So that was years ago, and I remember hearing that he was on this show, so I texted him immediately when I got this part and told him that we’d be spending a lot of time together, and he was really excited. At the very first table read, we all had to be there for eight hours and read all 10 episodes. Portia Doubleday slipped me her number on a little note, you know, as if we were in class. So ever since then, we’ve all been really close.
Your character is an FBI agent. Did you get to spend any time with real-life agents to prepare?
I didn’t have to learn too much about the tech side or the hacking side of things, but I did throw myself into the FBI world a little bit. I met with a couple female CIA agents who work in cybercrime at one of the field offices in downtown Manhattan, and that was really helpful and inspiring. I learned a lot about what they do and how they live their lives outside of work. And they’ve been on set a lot, which has been cool because they’ve been giving me like pointers about everything, including how to duck to avoid bullets, how to shoot a gun, how you would say certain things.
What’s it like working with director Sam Esmail?
It’s been so amazing. He’s very specific and he knows what he wants, which is extremely helpful, especially since I'm playing someone who is so different from me. I felt like I had an idea of what this person was in my mind, and then Sam sort of built on top. He trusted my instincts with it, but also gave me a lot of the specifics of what he wanted. He had this person in his mind for a long time, and so we sort of came together with both of our ideas for this person, and I feel like I’m still forming her in my head and my body and I’m really surprising myself every day with this part, because it’s so complex and messy, and strange and out there. It’s so fun.
Most memorable moment on set while shooting Season 2?
I don’t know if I can think of one specific moment, but I just loved working on all of my scenes. I did almost the entire arc of my character in four days. It was an intense week. And by the end, I actually had to go to the emergency room, because I had an accident on set. I pushed myself so hard! Even more, I felt like I could’ve had a concussion, but I wanted to make sure we got the shot. This show just matters so much to me. It feels important and I love my character.