Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of Mr. Robot with the Show's Leading Ladies
If you didn't catch USA's Sunday night bombshell, in which the network leaked the first hour of Mr. Robot's much-anticipated season premiere, you don't have to wait much longer for your hacker fix. The mega popular drama created by Sam Esmail, which has earned a reputation as one of the most intriguing shows on television, returns tomorrow, July 13, with a two-hour episode that picks up right where fsociety left off after the first season's finale shocker.
To hold you over, we asked Mr. Robot's leading ladies, Carly Chaikin, Stephanie Corneliussen, and Portia Doubleday, to take us behind the scenes and share personal snapshots captured while they filmed the much-anticipated upcoming season alongside co-stars Rami Malek, Christian Slater, and new series regular, Grace Gummer. Although they wouldn't spill any major spoilers (trust us, we asked), Chaikin (who plays fsociety co-founder Darlene), Corneliussen (who plays the hardened ex-wife of an E Corp exec, Joanna), and Doubleday (who plays Darlene's longtime friend Angela), did document what it's like to be a part of a cast that spends just as much time together off camera as they do in front of the lens.
"Things are a lot darker this season, but we manage to keep it light on set," says Doubleday, "I've never been around a bunch of people who works as hard as this group does. We get so into it, and we're constantly talking about our characters and the plot, even when we're not filming scenes. Those moments are amazing because you're doing what you love with people that you love." That mentality extends beyond the cast to crew, too, including the team's talented hairstylists and makeup artists. "That's definitely the spot on set where we have a lot of downtime to gossip, catch up, and just be silly, so we captured a lot of those moments," says Chaikin. "Unfortunately a lot of the things that are hilarious to us probably don't translate to the rest of the world."
Click through the gallery to see the makeup chair selfies, group shots, and cool props that dominated while filming the new season, and tune in to USA Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET to see what unfolds this season.
—With reporting by Samantha Simon
"This season we’re block-shooting, so it’s sort of like a movie where you shoot the entire film at once. On any random day, we could shoot a scene from episode one and then jump to shooting a scene from episode 10," explains Corneliussen. "Every once in a while, we all get to be together getting ready to shoot at the same time, and I don’t even know how we get work done because we goof around. We like to hang out outside of set too, obviously, but when we do it on set, it's just a clown fest."
Craig Robinson Cameo
"Craig Robinson [who guest stars in season 2] is so funny," says Corneliussen. "He comes in everyday and he’ll sing some sort of tune, sometimes it's Diana Ross. The other day it was “I Will Survive.” Everyone was chiming in. So this photo was taken right after we had all had a little musical powwow singing “I Will Survive” and dancing around the makeup trailer. I don’t know how these hair and makeup girls put up with us because we don’t take anything seriously when we’re all together. But Craig has a lot of fans, so there’s always like a bunch of kids gathered outside the trailer when we shoot on location and we can just hear them screaming, 'Craig! Craig!' And the rest of us are like, 'Oh, great. So happy to have you.' We get no attention."
Stellar Stunt Double
"Alex [on the right] is both my stunt double and my stand-in," says Corneliussen. "She is exactly my height, and as you can see in the photo, we really look alike, too. She helps out during the technical part of setting up a shot and shooting a scene, so when I have to run to get my hair and makeup touched up, or I’m running my lines with my scene partner or whoever I’m shooting with, then Alex will stand in for me. Then when I come back on set, she’ll say, 'Here’s your mark, and this is where you’re going to stand, and then you’re going to go here. You’re going to look here, here, and here.' So she’s helping me with the technical part of a scene, so I can just focus on the actual acting. We’ve become very close, which is awesome. She’s an actress herself, so sometimes she runs lines with me and helps me out."
"Here, I'm doing a fitting for my character, Joanna, with our costume designer Cat Thomas," says Corneliussen. This particular dress isn’t actually making it into a scene. But every couple of weeks, we’ll do fittings for all of our different scenes. Instead of taking one scene shooting on a particular day and doing a fitting right beforehand, Cat will organize what we call a major fitting, which is where we go in and she has about 20 to 25 outfits lined up. We try them all on, we take pictures, and then we send them to Sam to approve for the specific scenes. So Joanna doesn’t go shopping for herself."
"Our attitude at work is not nearly as serious as our scenes are," says Doubleday. "To be able to play around with the people you work with is a dream. We are all close to the girls in hair and makeup, and it’s such a collaboration. Here, I grabbed a wig from the hair department and said, 'What if Angela wears this wig next season?' I actually love this hairstyle!"
"Working with Sam Esmail is so collaborative," says Doubleday. "It’s a totally open relationship. We can call him day or night if we don’t understand something. He’s open to our ideas for our characters because he knows that we know our characters so well. But of course he won’t let us get away with an idea that’s too much of a departure from our character--like these wigs."
Selfie Between Scenes
"Here’s me and Portia in between shooting scenes," says Chaikin. "There’s a lot of downtime in between our set ups where we are all just hanging out or waiting for them to set up a new scene. Unfortunately, this season we don’t get to spend as much time together as a big group as we did while shooting the first season, so it’s really fun when we do have these moments."
Ready for a Close-Up
"We were doing this one particular scene where I had to be really, really close to the camera—like, very close in the frame," says Chaikin. "I kept telling the crew that no one needs to see my face that close up. I asked one member of our camera crew to take a picture so I could see what I looked like, and here it is."
"The hair and makeup trailer is always--on every set—the fun trailer where we talk about what’s going on and listen to music. It’s always a good time," says Chaikin. "For my character in particular, as you can see, we tease the hair a lot so it can get pretty big. It's crazy how on camera it doesn’t actually look quite as wild as this. The final product is much tamer. We calmed it down after this to look more normal."
"One of the best moments on set for me is always hair and makeup preparation, which is one of the biggest parts of our job because it gets us into character," explains Chaikin. One of my favorite memories from shooting season 2 was the time I actually passed out in the makeup chair. I thought I was just closing my eyes for a minute to rest, then before I knew it I was dead asleep. Oops."