Mr. Robot: Carly Chaikin on Being Pushed Emotionally And Mentally

With Mr. Robot season 2 heating up, we chat with Carly Chaikin about the challenging aspects of playing Darlene.

Mr. Robot has been dropping bombshells week after week in season two. The big reveals of season one were nothing compared to Elliot (Rami Malek)’s sitcom fantasy, or this week when he once again revealed he hasn’t been telling us the whole truth. We’ll keep season two spoilers vague, as Carly Chaikin wasn’t going to spoil anything either, although season one is fair game at this point. 

Chaikin joined cast members Portia Doubleday, Grace Gummer and Stephanie Corneliussen on a Television Critics Association panel “Decoding Mr. Robot Season_2.0 with the Women of Mr. Robot” along with Dawn Olmstead, Executive Vice President of Development for Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. After the panel, Chaikin spoke with reporters about some of the most challenging aspects of playing Darlene, and how it’s been weighing on her being responsible for the F Society credit hack that shattered the debt economy. 

Your first scene with Rami this season was in episode four, the third week of the show. Were you waiting to work with him again? 

Yeah. I mean, what’s funny is the first scene I filmed of the series was with Rami in the townhouse. But that episode was probably one of my favorite scenes in the series, which is funny because when Rami and I first saw the opening scene, we were kind like, “Eh.” Then once we really started to work on it together, it became our favorite. It was really one of the only scenes in the show where it’s just two people being together and having this brother/sister relationship with no drama and no agenda. We just got to see them be. 

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How did season two change the way you thought about Darlene? 

Darlene is definitely very different this season and it’s been so much fun to play that difference, and to really be able to let her come out after keeping her so hidden last season for that little reveal of them being brother and sister. Just having this new, militant approach and role of really having the world on her shoulders and having to take the reigns and take the lead and take control. So to be able to play that with also her vulnerability and fear underneath has been so much fun as an actor. 

Did you and Rami talk about being related? 

Yeah, we really, last season, before he gave in episode two, the whole speech to Christian about the story with his dad, Rami and I work on a lot of our stuff together. We sat down for like an hour and talked about what that looked like and what our relationship was like and how it was growing up together and what we think of our mom and what we think of our dad. We’ve really built this backstory and talk a lot about what it was like. 

Is Darlene inconvenienced by any of the changes she’s spearheaded? 

Yeah, of course. We see her in the beginning on the floor crying, seeing the consequences of what happened. I don’t think a lot of the times when you impulsively do something like that, you don’t think of the consequences or think that oh, I could’ve just destroyed the world. I think seeing the legitimate aftermath of that has really shaken her and I think that’s her whole battle this season. If I don’t see this through and we don’t follow through then I’m the monster. When we see Elliot telling her the follow through’s the most important, dealing with the aftermath is what’s most important, we can’t let up. She really tool all that to heart and that’s what she’s holding onto is finishing what she started. 

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Have you done research on any of the subject matter of Mr. Robot not for your character, but just out of personal interest?

I think it’s made me think a lot about how technology has changed our human relationships. So I don’t know as much of like research and issues as just in general it has made me think so much more about how we operate and our relationship to technology and how isolating it can be when we think it’s really connecting us more but it in actuality isn’t. And also just hackers and what they can do and what they have done in the past. Anonymous and all these other groups, it’s definitely made me really interested in that and I’ve watched a lot of documentaries. 

Are you more cautious about what’s online?

I think I’ve always been good at not posting pictures or doing anything like that, but it’s made me paranoid of what the possibilities are. When I was out at this club and this girl tried to grab my purse, I pushed her away but then after she left I was like, “She dropped a chip in my bag and now she’s going to monitor me and now she’s going to steal all my information and know where I am.” My best friend was like, “That is not going to happen. Calm down.” 

What was the wave like as Mr. Robot got so popular? 

I think it’s still almost hard. It’s so crazy to absorb and to actually really see the impact that it’s had even today, but I think almost from the beginning, starting with South by Southwest, the feedback that we got from that and then going to Tribeca and being the first TV show there. All these things were happening that were really cool and different and kind of hasn’t happened before. With all the fan feedback and then of course getting nominated for the Golden Globe was just mind-blowing and so unexpected. I think it’s still sinking in for me personally because it’s really hard to wrap your head around that you get to be a part of something as big as this and as cool as this. 

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Has it changed your life a lot? 

Not really. I’m such a loser, I don’t really go out. None of my friends are really actors so in that regard, I still have all the same friends and do all the same things. But it’s definitely changed my life as an actor and the way I approach acting. Sam has just challenged me as an actor and it’s of course helped my career. In a way it has changed my life for the better and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

Do you like not knowing some of the secrets of the show? 

It depends. There are some things that I would need to know. This season, if we didn’t get all 10 scripts ahead of time, I don’t even know how I would have been able to play this. But overall, there are still so many things that I don’t know that I’ll ask Sam. I’ll be like, “Why?” And he’s like, “Don’t worry about it.” So in a way it’s fun because we all sit around and try and figure it out and think about what it could be. I know Portia wants to know everything, but I also don’t want to hold onto all that information and not be able to tell anyone. So I’d rather not know in a way. 

Is the top question, “Is Elliot really dead?” 

Well, we’re all just convinced that he’s going to kill all of us. Are we all going to die? Please tell me you’re not going to kill me.

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Is the cinematography any added challenge to perform in the bottom corner of the screen?

No, because I don’t see it. I don’t see the frame. Sam, in regards to the framing, what’s cool is he’s like, for the scene with Elliot as brother/sister, I wanted to lean forward on the bench and the frame wasn’t allowing for that. So they told me to not, and then when I said, “I need to lean forward and be able to move,” he was like, “Great, let’s change the frame then.” To him, the performances and all that are most important, but normally it doesn’t affect what we do.

You’re so different on Mr. Robot, do some people not realize you were the girl on Suburgatory?

Yeah, a lot of people online and stuff, on Twitter will be like, “Oh my God, I just realized that.” I love it. It’s exciting for people to not be able to know that.

Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays at 10PM on USA.