Mr. Robot is certainly one of the most unique shows on television, and the cast is mostly made up of fresh faces. Casting directors Susie Farris and Beth Bowling, who are nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series with Kim Miscia for their work on the series, spoke to Observer about why it was so important for them to find actors who didn’t look like actors when casting. They also explain how Christian Slater ended up on their radar for the title role.
One of the main goals of casting the pilot was to avoid casting actors who looked like they could be cast on any television series, like star Rami Malek. Farris explains, “I think [creator Sam Esmail] was really looking for out of the box ideas, and someone left of center. He did didn’t want your typical cutie-pie, your kind of CW looking kid in the lead. I do remember in session Sam and I going back and forth, and Sam would say, ‘Susie, too cute!’ He definitely was looking for substance and interesting over glossy and handsome.”
Beth Bowling adds, “Yeah, Sam always said ‘They look too much like an actor.’ If they looked like an actor they were discounted immediately.”
Farris admits that much of the casting came on the instinct that a particular actor was “right” for the role. She recalls, “I was just looking for that intangible thing that I see that makes me say ‘that’s the person.’ Rami came in on the first day and just had this special quality that was undeniable. I had known Carly Chaikin from one of her first auditions in the business, and even though there was very little on the page for Darlene in the pilot, when I read it I just thought ‘That’s Carly.’ I think it’s just this innate thing that casting director’s possess. That’s part of the reason we end up doing what we do, you just have a sensibility and you can instinctively feel when you have the right one. And then with Christian Slater, he’s such a good actor and we hadn’t seen him do something as meaty as this in a really long time.”