Emmys: 'Mr. Robot' Creator Sam Esmail Reveals How That "Crucial" Graveyard Scene Came Together

Mr. Robot S02E01 Still 3 - Publicity - H 2016
Michael Parmelee/USA Network

Mr. Robot S02E01 Still 3 - Publicity - H 2016

"We had a huge ticking clock by way of a setting sun," Esmail says of shooting the most challenging scene of season one.

Most challenging scene to pull off this season

The graveyard scene from episode 1.9 was one of the most difficult scenes to shoot because we had a huge ticking clock by way of a setting sun. We wanted to film it during golden hour to get the right light, but that moment is very fleeting. So the pressure was on because the scene is one of the most crucial moments of the entire season. Luckily enough, Rami [Malek], Christian [Slater], Portia [Doubleday] and Carly [Chaikin] came well prepared and killed it on every take; otherwise we would have been dead in the water.

I still can't believe we got away with …

The lobster fork from episode 1.8 [in which Stephanie Corneliussen's Joanna induces her own labor] was disturbing because of the choice. That's the crazy thing about that moment: We don't show it. There's zero nudity or violence, and yet it's still very f—ed up.

My Emmy night ritual

This is my first Emmys, so I don't have one! But if I had to guess, I will probably want to share a milkshake with [my fiancee] Emmy [Rossum].

If I was in charge of Emmy seating, I'd put myself next to …

This one's easy: It's the person I am sitting next to right now, Emmy!

My advice for Emmy host Jimmy Kimmel

Practice pronouncing every name of the Game of Thrones cast and crew.


Seasons: 1 on USA. Season two is airing now.
Executive producers: Sam Esmail, Chad Hamilton, Steve Golin
Emmy history: 6 nominations, 0 wins 2016
Awards: Golden Globe for best drama series; Peabody Award; Critics’ Choice Award for best drama series; AFI Award for TV program of the year; TCA Award for outstanding new program; WGA Award for new series
Fun fact: The signature black hoodie Malek’s character wears on the show was taken from the actor’s own closet.

This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.