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Two of the most iconic words in Mr. Robot lore, uttered in the closing moments of both the season one and two premieres, by the man who at the time stood out as the most menacing figure in the life of Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) — the most menacing figure who wasn’t a figment of Elliot’s imagination, anyway: Tyrell Wellick, the Swedish shark in a suit with an eye on becoming nothing less than a God, let alone the youngest CTO in E Corp history.
Played by Martin Wallström, Tyrell represented everything that Elliot stood against — until the stars and their purposes aligned, as Tyrell became an instrumental player in the revolution kickstarted by Elliot’s darker alter ego, the titular Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Throughout the second season of the USA Network series, Elliot and viewers alike were uncertain about Tyrell’s fate until the final episode of the year, so much so that Wallström only appeared in a handful of episodes. Perhaps that’s why the actor refers to himself as little more than “a small part” in the overall scheme of Mr. Robot, even if the notion is perplexing from the outside looking in.
“But there were many characters this season who had so much of an effect on the story,” Wallström tells The Hollywood Reporter in a special edition of our Mr. Robot podcast with Post Show Recaps. “You look at Leon (Joey Badass) and Irving (Bobby Cannavale), Whiterose (BD Wong) and Grant (Grant Chang) and Angela (Portia Doubleday) — everybody affects the story in major ways now. Sure, in season one’s first episodes, you could feel that Tyrell was affecting Elliot. But now, we’re all pawns affecting each other.”
Wallström points at the final moments of season three as a further example of his point: Fernando Vera (Elliot Villar), returning to the Mr. Robot universe for the first time since season one. While Vera has little to do with the greater narrative of Elliot versus the top one percent (including BD Wong’s Whiterose and Michael Cristofer’s Phillip Price), Vera forever changed the Mr. Robot protagonist by murdering his girlfriend Shayla (played by SMILF creator and star Frankie Shaw) at the midpoint of the first season. Now, he stands ready to impact Elliot and the rest of the Mr. Robot roster in greater ways moving forward.
“Suddenly, we have a character stepping in now at the end of episode ten who had a great impact in the past,” says Wallström. “For most of the characters, we are small parts in this story. We all have the ability to do big stuff with it. With Tyrell, he’s made his plan. He did something very big that affected everybody else. We all have that ability.”
Indeed, Tyrell made the extent of his powers known midway into season three, when he organized the Dark Army’s horrific Cyber Bombings, which killed thousands of people across the country in one fell swoop. In the aftermath, Tyrell — already a fugitive due to his role in the Five/Nine Hacks — was thrust back into the national spotlight, under the fabricated guise of a hero who tried to prevent the attacks. As a result, Tyrell finally earned the thing he wanted all along, becoming the youngest CTO in E Corp history — but only after getting so much blood on his hands, not to mention the death of his wife Joanna (Stephanie Corneliussen) and a seemingly permanent separation from his newborn son.
“It’s like the genie in the bottle: be careful what you wish for,” Wallström says about his character’s arc this season. “I was pretty surprised he was willing to go to such an extent to get what he wanted. I’m really curious to see where this will take him. I don’t know how much else he has to lose at this moment.”
A Tyrell Wellick with nothing to lose is a scary prospect indeed, and one that Wallström can only speculate about at this stage, given that the recently announced season four is just now entering the writing phase.
“We now have a very clear picture of who his enemies are. It’s the first time he might have someone specific to aim all of that [rage] towards. But who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe he’ll go to Tibet and find himself in monastery. You never know,” he jokes. “I always have a sense of where this is going — and it always turns out to be the wrong direction. The writers are so clever. I’m eager to see what’s going to happen. I’ve been wrong every time I’ve guessed, which I think people should be very glad for.”
Listen to our full Post Show Recaps podcast conversation with Martin Wallström for his thoughts on playing Tyrell, his experience in season three (including growing a full beard and once again donning the character’s signature blue murder gloves), hopes for season four, and much more.
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