Rami Malek brings new meaning to the term "tortured artist."
The 35-year-old actor, who currently stars as vigilante hacker Elliot Alderson on USA Network's "Mr. Robot," is wasting away in the name of authenticity.
"Some days, I show up at work and my eyes are still red," he continued. "I've gotten out of the shower a couple times and looked at myself pretty emaciated. And at times, I have thoughts flood through my head in the way I think must happen to Elliot. I'm like, 'Whoa, Rami. Be careful. Don't let this take over.'"
With that kind of commitment to his role, it's no wonder the "Twilight" alum won a Golden Globe this year for his work on the cult series -- or that his fans sometimes confuse him with his on-screen alter ego.
"I'm definitely getting stopped more on the street than I did in the past," Rami told emmy of being recognized by fans. "Overall, people are very kind and complimentary. But some are worried about me. They want to hug me. One guy asked if I had a drug problem. I was like, 'No, dude. Slow your roll! You've got to be able to separate your worlds, man. Elliot's not me.'"
Clearly Rami has gone deep -- real deep! -- to bring Elliot to life. He even consults with an on-set psychologist to perfect his portrayal of the computer programmer and morphine abuser, who suffers from social anxiety, depression and delusions.
"We worked with some professional hackers and hired some prolific computer whizzes that we had on set all the time because we just wanted to make [Elliot's computer skills] as authentic as possible," Rami says in a video from the set of emmy magazine's "Mr. Robot" photo shoot, which also features co-stars Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday.
Continues the actor, "I also worked with a psychologist to get [his mental health] aspect in there in the right way because there are a lot of moments when you watch TV and you don't quite buy that stuff. My psychologist was telling me the same thing -- not my personal psychologist, the one for the show was like, 'I want to make sure you guys get this right as well.' So that's what we aim for: authenticity on every level."
After watching documentaries and reading books about hacking and mental-health issues, the award-winning actor also considered visiting a psychologist in character as Elliot. Ultimately, he tabled the idea -- "I thought it would be kind of mean-spirited to the therapist," he says.
"I like to prepare," he adds. "I spend a lot of time putting in the work so that it becomes second nature on the day [of filming]. Actors need all the confidence we can get sometimes. We can be very needy people!"
Perhaps it's all the hard work that's made Christian Slater a fan.
"This guy's the truth," Christian gushed to emmy of his "Mr. Robot" co-star. "I bumped into Laurence Fishburne while walking my dog, and that's how he referred to Rami: the truth. And I think that encapsulates him perfectly."
Rami even laid bare the truth while discussing the way he relates to his "complicated character."
"I could relate to his struggle to do right and try to evolve as a young man in today's world," he says. "We all have bouts of loneliness and moments where we're crying alone. Here's a very flawed human being who still thinks he's capable of changing the world, and there's a strength in that I find very encouraging."
The only thing the "Mr. Robot" star wasn't fully truthful about is what's to come on the second season of his hit series, which debuts on July 13, though he did warn that it's "going to be even darker."
"It was like I was going into battle," he says of the first table read for Season 2. "I was trepidatious, but I was also really looking forward to it."
Us too! In the meantime, check out an exclusive first-look at emmy magazine's photo shoot with the cast of "Mr. Robot" in the slideshow below. And don't forget to check out more revelations from the cast in the latest issue of emmy, which hits newsstands on June 14.
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