I wanted to finally bring cyberpunk to TV.

You can see the trailer for MR. ROBOT here and the promo for tomorrow's all-new episode here.

MR. ROBOT airs Wednesday nights at 10/9c on USA Network.

Victoria's helping me out tonight.



Thank you all for your great questions. I hope you like the show as we go into further episodes. I would love to come back here and answer more questions you might have.

Comments: 305 • Responses: 43  • Date: 

lowcontextculture79 karma

Hi Sam! Thanks for doing this AMA and kudos on the early success of Mr. Robot. The pilot is easily one of the best I've seen in years. Excited for what's yet to come.

Rami Malek said you hate his ad-libbing on set. Is that true, and if so, why? Is it terrible or just not "on the message", so to speak?

SamEsmail90 karma

It's pretty true.

I have a very specific vision for the show and try to stay as true to it as possible.

However, I always listen if someone comes up with a different take on a line, and we use it, because my motto is "whatever is the best idea wins" no matter who pitches it. And I think Rami is a little sensitive sometimes.

fatal_pixels76 karma

First of like the show! Who ever wrote the line explaining the root kit is awesome.

Is it true they already green light a season two?

SamEsmail82 karma

It is true. And we're all very excited about it.

Roranicus0164 karma

First of all, thanks for doing this AMA.

For my question, Eliott's social anxiety is portrayed extremely well, form the "no touching" rule to the general feeling that random strangers are watching. As someone who does feel uncomfortable in crowds, I've actually pointed to the pilot as a good example of what it's like for me. How did you achieve this? Do you have a consultant on staff with experience with these things?

SamEsmail84 karma

Well, that consultant would be me.

I am very familiar. I'm like the Picasso of social anxiety. But we also have a psychologist as a consultant on-staff who we talk to as well.

MediocrityProdigy62 karma

First I want to say that I love the show more than any show I've seen in recent memory. You portrayed he hacking culture perfectly, which you're right, it has been very, very poorly portrayed. Anyway, my question is, is it a coincidence that Evil Corp's Logo looks like Enron's?

SamEsmail89 karma

It is not.

JuanPierre52 karma

It seems like there's a lot of influence from David Fincher, Specifically fight club, is that intentional? Also, the music is awesome. How much say did you have in the soundtrack?

SamEsmail72 karma

I'm completely all over the soundtrack.

Music is incredibly important to me.

And we really wanted to created a special tone for the show with music, which was composed by the great Mac Quayle.

FIGHT CLUB is one of my favorite films of all time. And it is among one of many inspiration for the show.

anarcht25 karma

it looks like you build some scenes on the soundtrack. is it true?

i mean, these are brilliantly completing each other.

SamEsmail55 karma

I absolutely think about music when I write, when I shoot, and when I edit anything. I think it's that important to the film. In fact, Neil Diamond was written into the original draft of the pilot, and it survived all the way to the making and release of the pilot. Which is a rare feat.

ittapupu237 karma

Love the show!

The ideas presented in Mr. Robot seem like a pretty ballsy thing to put on TV right now, with its harsh criticisms of corporate America. Yet, there's plenty of corporate branding going on in the background. Is that on purpose? Did you face much resistance getting a show with these kinds of messages on TV?

Thanks for doing this. That pilot was amazing, and I can't wait to see more!

SamEsmail45 karma

First of all, thank you for support, and I hope you continue watching and liking the show.

I feel like if you bring anything that could make money to television, they'll gladly take it.

In terms of putting the real brands in the show, that is all intentional. I try and stay away from faking logos or brands, and try to use the real authentic thing. That is a part of our world. Branding is in fact a huge aspect of our lifestyle right now, and I wanted to make sure that was reflected in the show.

Fatherofmaddog35 karma

I stumbled upon your show the other day and really loved it. I could really relate to you lead character. I too am in the InfoSec industry. I would love to know what inspired you to write about this topic? Also how did you go about researching the cyber security topic? I have to admit that I am not normally impressed with shows on InfoSec, as most fail, but your show really struck a chord with me.

SamEsmail67 karma

Look, I've been disappointed with what's been out there that's trying to represent this culture, and they are completely off the mark. And I wanted to do something more true to life. Personally, I happen to be fascinated by the real people in technology and hacking culture, and I felt they deserved a good story.

Fatherofmaddog32 karma

Are planning on attending DefCon or BlackHat? Would love to hear you speak at length about your vision of the show, etc!

SamEsmail62 karma

Because I'm not a real hacker (or even remotely skillful at programming) I would find it offensive to go to DefCon. I would feel too much like a poser. However, if I was invited, I would of course love to go.

bitcoins44 karma

I'll invite you to defcon! Come hang out with me and I'll show you around

SamEsmail43 karma

OK great.

chonkyt35 karma

Was there any backlash from USA about your episode titles? I mean, "eps1.0_hellofriend.mov" and "eps.1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg" are great, but not exactly user friendly. And are there enough file type extensions to last two seasons?

SamEsmail79 karma

I think we'll definitely re-use the file extensions.

But I think the way we did the titles, and the way we do our episode descriptions, are awesome and cool and special to the show.

That's just my personal opinion.

polk7927 karma

Thanks for your time sir! A final question, Did you think Mr. Robot would get the love and recognition it has received after only one episode?

SamEsmail49 karma

No way.

DrRectangle27 karma


Do you or have you ever frequented 4chan?

And my brother would like to ask, are there any characters on MR. ROBOT that are based off people you know?

SamEsmail39 karma

You know what? No. I have a mild curiosity for 4chan, but I have not spent a lot of time there, though.

Well, I would say that Elliot is definitely loosely based off of me.

DrRectangle10 karma

Are there any specific parts of Eliot that are based off you, if so what are they? Or is it more like a just in general type of thing?

SamEsmail33 karma

Elliot is like the naive, young, angry, stupid, just way more brilliant, awkward version of me.

kamic25 karma

Ipconfig or ifconfig?

SamEsmail57 karma

I go ifconfig.

merespectator25 karma

Wouldn't it be so much cooler if Mr. Robot had ZERO internet presence?

SamEsmail28 karma

I 100% agree.

chiesd20 karma

hi! loving the show! I had a question on Elliot's character, it was mentioned in passing that elliot thought himself as schizo. is elliot canonically schizophrenic or any form of mentally ill? will we be seeing more of it through out the season?

SamEsmail41 karma

In the interests of keeping everything spoiler-free, I will just say: he definitely believes he might be schizophrenic.

polk7918 karma

Hi Sam! Do you have general Idea of how many seasons you'd like to have or are you just gonna go with the flow and see where it leads?

What was your main inspiration for Elliot and/or the show itself?

Are you a techie or do you just find it interesting?

Would you consider an interview for my Mr. Robot podcast, Automatic For the People?

SamEsmail42 karma

Probably going with four seasons, max five.

My main inspiration for the show and Elliot is a combination of 3 events:

  • One, my aforementioned frustration with the way Hollywood represents hacking and technology
  • Two, my personal experience with the Arab Spring, specifically in Egypt
  • And three, the financial collapse in 2008.

I am unfortunately not as skilled as I'd like to be in technology. But I am obsessed with it.

And I'd love to, if the timing works out. Right now we're in the middle of filming. Maybe when we wrap.

anarcht14 karma

i ask as a middle-easterner. do you have any connections with middle-east?

i suspected that because both you and rami have arabic originated names. and including "kor adana" (i suppose that is turkish)

SamEsmail26 karma

Kor is Turkish, I believe. But Rami and I are both Egyptian. I was born in New Jersey, and I believe Rami was born somewhere in the States, but we're both first generation.

Frajer17 karma

Where did you get the idea for Mr Robot from?

SamEsmail36 karma

I would say that I've always felt frustrated about how poorly represented technology and hacking was in film and television. And I always wanted to do my own version. So it came out of my passion for telling a story about hacking and technology, and my frustration with all the current movies and television shows about the subject.

NorbitGorbit16 karma

do you have control over the promos cut for the show or does the network handle that mostly -- is it possible to create promos composed of scenes that don't appear in the show and use that to mislead the audience for a bigger surprise?

SamEsmail20 karma

I do not have any control in that department.

IKingJeremy11 karma

What was the biggest obstacle to overcome in getting this show on the air?

SamEsmail21 karma

I'd say everything was an obstacle.

It's a pretty crazy thing we're pulling off, and it's a crazy thing for anybody to air, because of radical ideas we throw out there in the show.

So everything.

BrennanBr11 karma

Wow this is awesome. I've actually never heard of your show. I'm sure you've gone through your fair share of pitches to producers and TV stations, but in your own words would you mind explaining it to me? The 45 second trailer you linked was a bit vague and j think it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear what the show's actual creator has to say

SamEsmail23 karma

Well, here's my answer, which is:

I've always been terrible at pitching. I actually didn't pitch MR. ROBOT. In fact, I wrote it to avoid pitching the show.

So if you wanna know what the show is about, just watch the pilot.

It's going to be much better than me just sitting here describing it to you.

BrennanBr9 karma

Haha, interesting. Thanks for being honest. How long has this show been something you've been sitting on or working on? How easy or difficult was the path to getting your writing onto national television?

SamEsmail20 karma

Making anything in film and television is incredibly difficult, because it's incredibly expensive.

So unless you have money, it's going to be hard for you to convince someone to spend any on your little script.

And to answer your first question, I probably wrote the pilot in a few months and then two years later was able to make it.

Which is incredibly fast. I must admit, I got really lucky.

MediocrityProdigy9 karma

The coding and computer knowledge is very refreshing. Are you the computer geek or do you have consultants?

SamEsmail24 karma

I'd like to take credit for it. But I do have much smarter people than I as consultants. However, I am still very much a computer geek.

anarcht9 karma

hello, sam.

do you have any kind of depression or anxiety disorder?

that's all, thanks.

SamEsmail21 karma

I was diagnosed with OCD when I was younger. And I was also diagnosed with social anxiety disorder later on in my life.

Selachian9 karma

What influences did you have in creating the sci-fi universe of the show? I'm a huge fan of Gibson and cyberpunk world building myself so I was wondering how it has kept up with the ever changing techno - culture climate

SamEsmail19 karma

I actually did not have a lot of influence from fiction. It was mostly from real hackers and programmers, just real life. Just people I interacted with throughout the years, that were in the programming and hacker culture that really inspired me.

RedstoneRay9 karma

What's your favorite cereal?

SamEsmail22 karma

Oooh, that's a good question.

I'd have to go with Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

ts718977 karma

Hey Sam--

I just wanted to say that I loved the pilot of Mr Robot but most of all I absolutely adored your film "Comet" from last year. The cinematography, lighting, and plot structure were all hypnotically beautiful and the heart rang true. Now I know my question isn't about the new show but I just wanted to know, as an incoming film student, how difficult the process was getting Comet off the ground and what struggles you encountered while making the film? Also, any plans to do another feature anytime soon?


SamEsmail10 karma

Making a feature film out of film school is the biggest pain in the ass in the world.

Unless you have a lot of money, it's really challenging.

I do plan on making a feature film, hopefully within the next year or two.

JuanPierre7 karma

What's the influence of the design of the mask in the previews of the 2nd episode?

SamEsmail9 karma

Here's what I will answer: I wanted them to lampoon their nemesis, which is the "evil billionaire."

BearBong6 karma

Holy shit first episode of MR ROBOT blew my mind. Cool you put it on Youtube ans that is on HBO kinda production level.

Question: who do you consult about the amazing tech accuracy your show has? As a tech guy myself, I've been amazed with the accuracy of everything from hardware down to software stuff. Cheers and keep up the awesome work!

SamEsmail12 karma

We have a number of technical consultants. One onset who actually is a really smart guy who started off as my assistant, Kor Adana, I wanna name drop him. We also have another tech advisor, who is from the FBI cybercrime division.

okelay6 karma

Hi sam I loved the pilot and have seen it a rather ridiculous amount of times. My questions is about whether you had any direct influence or if you feel the show serves as spiritual sucessor to anything? Personally it reminded me of cory doctorow's little brother which I also loved.

Oh, and kudos on not going the technobabble route

SamEsmail9 karma

Okay. Thank you.

I would say that spiritually, it is a successor to all the nerds and techies I grew up being best friends with.

Tanisha-16 karma

are you at all concerned about national security threats?

SamEsmail13 karma

Of course. Who isn't?

polk795 karma

What made you change from a movie format to the television format?

SamEsmail10 karma

Well, nothing really made me change, other than the fact that when I started writing MR. ROBOT, which I started writing initially as a feature, I was either too long-winded, or the story was just too big for a film. And I wound up turning it into a TV show just by sheer length.

MrDoctorPepper4 karma

I've avoided all previews and trailers for this show. Why should I watch it over other shows?

SamEsmail17 karma

I'd say because Rami Malek gives a breathtaking, amazing performance. And if you're a Christian Slater fan (from Pump up the Volume, Heathers, True Romance) you'll want to take a look at his performance in MR. ROBOT.

konasmitchell4 karma

hi! so in love with the show. is there going to be any big consequences for elliot down the line? i read in the character bio that he was arrested once... anything as serious as that happening?

SamEsmail9 karma

I think great drama always lends itself to great consequences.

profound_whatever3 karma

Hello, Sam! Loved the pilot, looking forward to seeing where it all goes. My question is unrelated to anything; I need some new tunes, so I'm asking anyone I can. What songs would you choose as the soundtrack if you were:

  • Having a clandestine meeting on a Ferris wheel?

  • Being pursued on the subway by shadowy assailants?

  • Saving the day through the power of hacking?

  • Seducing Angela and getting her to love you, like she GODDAMN BETTER.

SamEsmail19 karma

"Where Is My Mind" by the Pixies.

apt-get_boobies3 karma

How would someone get started in the industry(trying to do what you do)?

SamEsmail12 karma

I think you have to make some noise.

Whether it's a short film, a script, a blog, a video, you have to do something that really grabs peoples' attention and really makes some noise.

binh2913 karma

What did you think about the Mr. Robot twitch E3 hack?(www.twitch.tv/whoismrrobot) What was your favorite part of the live stream?

SamEsmail6 karma

My favorite part is always reading the comments.

Even the trolls.

It's always fun and entertaining for me.

But I thought the twitch hack was really fun and cool. And I love twitch so I'm glad we got to be a part of it.

polk793 karma

Is this your favorite of all the work you've done so far?

SamEsmail10 karma

I've only done two things. And I don't want to disrespect COMET.

So I'll say it's a tie for now.

bitcoins2 karma

What is Bitcoin?

SamEsmail8 karma

Bitcoin is a new form of currency, specifically "cryptocurrency."

kamic2 karma

And do you own any BTC?

SamEsmail13 karma

I don't own any bitcoin.

I don't think I'm cool enough to own any bitcoin.

barthy171 karma

What made you want to create a show like this?

SamEsmail10 karma

Just my passion to portray my nerdy techie friends who I grew up with in authentic and realistic way.