Mr. Robots Mal Heart: Rami Malek on His Existential Crisis

Rami Malek superstars in Buster’s Mal Heart, a film that asks some of the same philosophical questions as Mr. Robot. Malek says he couldn’t resist.


On USA Networks reached series Mr. Robot, Rami Malek is a man divided. His cyberpunk hacktivist Elliot Alderson has been wrestling with himself, so to speak, throughout a second season thats also ensure the 35 -year-old breakout star earn his first Emmy nomination and the biggest buzz of his career to date.

A week before the Emmys, Malek debuted another rumination on the theme at the Toronto Film Festival . He stars in the Y2K-set Busters Mal Heart as a man whom lifes ponderous forces has split into two, a role that suggests there are more personalities to the enigmatic searcher hes been playing for mainstream audiences on Mr. Robot.

The similarities between these kindred tormented souls are no accident. I ensure huge parallels, Malek told me this week in Toronto, where the surreal character piece from writer-director Sarah Adina Smith( Midnight Swim) both confounded and charmed critics. Big time.

I look at what I do on Mr. Robotwhat Elliot goes through on Mr. Robot, he corrected himself, as a crisis of man questioning his place in society. Its a very sociopolitical issue and problem that hes addressing. With this story, its a greater question of mans ability to effect his placeand when I say his I entail his and hers and ours, in the universe.

If we are able to alter the progress of the mechanism of our universe do we have the ability to alter anything? Do we really have liberty?

Approaching the end of a day filled with interviews, Malek sipped fernet and Coca Cola, a savour he acquired while unrolling in Argentina after filming 2010 s The Pacific. I went to live in Argentina, he explained. I guessed I was going to live there. I guessed, Im doneIm living here until I fix my head again.

The reset must have worked, because in the ensuing years Malek started booking some of the biggest movies of his career. Roles in studio blockbusters like Battleship and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn boosted his IMDb Starmeter, and a operate of smaller movies boosted his indie cred: The Master, Aint Them Bodies Saints, and his 2013 breakout, Short Term 12.

But, the fernet: Its got 40 fucking medicinal herbs in it, he grinned, offering Smith a savour. Its gross, and I think its so fucking delicious.

Maleks intensity and versatility are put to mesmerizing use in Busters Mal Heart, a fractured narrative that insures one man navigating three disparate, cosmically connected realities. As Jonah, the night director of a nondescript hotel in a middle-of-nowhere township, he whiles away late nights staving off a tedium thats slowly driving him mad, the dreaming life he longs for with his wife( Kate Lyn Sheil) and young daughter inching away with each passing shift.

Looming over Jonahs nights is the intensifying paranoia of Y2K mania, underscoring how few movies genuinely remind us how terrified “were in” that the year 2000 would end modern life as we knew it.

I was preparing myself for demise, acknowledged Smith. I truly guessed mutually assured demolition was going to happen, all the nuclear arms were going to go off and the world was going to end. It was a great moment for me because I fully accepted deathand then nothing happened.

I think everybody at one point was like, its midnight, and I might succumb, but I probably wontlets just see what happens, giggled Malek.

Malek also plays a lone wild-eyed mountain man terrorizing the winter homes of Montana and a fisherman adrift at sea, whose fates are all tied to a mysterious drifter who shows up offering big answers and warnings of doomsday( DJ Qualls ).

I think there are different facets in all of us, and if you invest in one aspect wholeheartedly you can create another being out of that, told Malek. We looked at this idea of love and freedom and the question of, if those are such big feelings, can they exist together in equilibrium? There is a man in the heart of Jonah who wants to love so much, and its overwhelming to a degree where that love is so strong that it divides a man into two. I believe one is still searching for a knowledge of what it is to exist with love, that type of powerand the other wants liberty. The two, for him, cannot co-exist.

It was a profound piece, Malek told of Smiths script. I felt like I was reading a short story, and one that I was riveted by. You know how you want to read short stories because inevitably theres a lesson for you at the end of it? You feel like, OK, that was written with purpose and I enjoyed the hell out of it, I am moved, and I am different for some reason or another.

Smith met with Malek before Mr. Robot came out, became a cable network make, and plastered his face all over township on billboards and bus ads. Malek remembers his nerves: As an actor youre always skeptical somewhat. You think that you have the opportunity and then theres always this doubt; am I going to ruin this for myself by sitting down and actually gratifying someone?

As an artist and actor I knew he was right for it but was worried we were somehow too late to this boat, that we missed the train, Smith smiled. When we sat down in that coffee shop someone distinguished him right away and I was like, Oh, fuck.

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