Why Rami Malek Says the Term ‘Female Director’ Makes Him Laugh
In this new recurring column, Glamour challenges some of our favorite actors to reveal what makes them tick (by leaving their tact at the door). First up: Mr. Robot himself.
There are few onscreen characters more complex, more wholly unknowable than Elliot Alderson, a cybersecurity wiz with crippling anxiety on USA’s critically acclaimed Mr. Robot. The inconsistencies in his character is what makes Rami Malek, the neatly drawn 36-year-old actor who plays Alderson, so fascinating to watch: What’s informing the way this guy reacts to the world? you can’t help but wonder as he bungles yet another social interaction. What motivates him? How unreliable of a narrator is he? Adding to the Malek mystique, of course, is the fact that he’s also confirmed to play Freddie Mercury, the British rocker with the four-octave range, in the forthcoming Queen biopic. Sure, he may make it all look easy, but as the following interview will reveal: It’s hard work being Rami Malek. Hack into his psyche (and get a second-hand Christian Slater sighting rush) below.
Glamour: Elliot Alderson, your character, is something of a bad boy for the digital era. Why do you think we love that narrative in pop culture?
Rami Malek: He’s not the guy taking you out on a fancy date, but he is searching for an ideal human connection. Maybe that’s what people gravitate to.
Glamour: After completing the HBO war drama The Pacific, you moved to Argentina to “fix your head.” Will you need a post-Robot escape?
RM: I gotta tell you, it didn’t even really fix my head. I was younger then, and I kind of destroyed myself going through real emotional and physical pain. I’ve since found better ways of coping, but [a role like Elliot] is still pretty detrimental. All I wanna do is go lie on a beach with no cell phone, no computer.
Glamour: Actor BD Wong was so brilliant last season as Whiterose, the leader of a mysterious Chinese hacker group who also happens to be a trans woman. Why don’t we see characters like that more often?
RM: Honestly, it’s just about writers being more creative. I don’t think it’s about the audience questioning it.
Glamour: Name a complicated female character you love.
RM: It’s difficult because I am one of those people who is so appreciative of seeing women’s roles be as complicated as men’s. I love what Robin Wright has done with her character on House of Cards. But why does she need short hair and stronger features to be an acceptable “complicated” woman? And as much as I appreciate Wonder Woman, why do we need an entire comic-book universe, instead of ordinary human beings, to bring [these perspectives] to light?
Glamour: Speaking of Wonder Woman, is there a female director you’re dying to work with?
RM: Kathryn Bigelow is someone I admire, but I’ve always laughed at the term “female director” or even “black director.” A director’s a director.
Glamour: So do people screw up your name at Starbucks?
RM: I’ll get “Robby” or “Ronny,” but most of the time I’ll get something remotely close. I don’t think that, when you look at me, you’d put Robby or Ronny with my face. Hold on—I’m running into [Mr. Robot costar] Christian Slater on the street in Paris, out of nowhere. Hold on. Well, this is random.
Christian Slater: I just saw you as I was driving by, so I got out of the car. Go finish your conversation, and text me later.
RM: Great human right there. And he’s so good-looking. [Laughs.] You gotta use that in the interview.
Season three of Mr. Robot is back on USA Network in October.