Mr. Robot Exclusive: Portia Doubleday on Angela’s Biggest Moments
I got to talk to Portia Doubleday before season two of Mr. Robot began filming. Back then, it was still fresh that we found out the truth about Elliot and Mr. Robot, and there was the promise of Angela (Doubleday) really doing something about Evil Corp.
At a party for the Television Critics Association, I caught up with Doubleday after the show’s landmark first season. There were several pivotal moments for Angela, from hacking Allsafe to confronting CEO Terry Colby (Bruce Altman) to a scene at a ballet studio. Mr. Robot airs Wednesdays at 10 on USA, and take a look back at season one with Doubleday below. Spoilers for Mr. Robot follow.
What are your hopes for season two?
What are your hopes for season two?
Just to keep being awesome.
Really? For me too. I hope we keep being awesome. I don’t know, man. I’m looking forward to our characters expanding. Darlene’s background and Angela’s background and where the story is going to go. I still am kind of in the dark about it but Sam is really good at I think captivating an audience with questions. I will say this, because Sam said it so I feel like I can as well. I think certain things will be answered that the audience wants answered, but of course Sam is going to create new compelling conflict that’s going to raise more questions.
How long were you waiting to find out what came next? Did Sam give you anything to tide you over?
Sam didn’t give us that much at all until recently, so we knew little details about stuff but it wasn’t hammered out yet. I learned a lot more about my character the past couple weeks.
When Angela hacked Allsafe on behalf of her boyfriend, was that a powerful moment where she took her life back?
Yeah, I think that’s definitely a pivotal moment for Angela, especially in this arc as she’s finding herself. I think that’s the first big moment where she decides that she has to leave this old identity. She just plays a part in the beginning. She has the boyfriend and the job. I think she’s really lost. In that moment especially, with her and Shayla in the bathroom, she kind of decides that she’s going to do things for herself, go rogue and start a new path.
Was the interview with the chemical CEO your hardest scene?
That was a very difficult scene but Sam was directing that episode and he wanted it to be very particular. We spent a long time with the details and the beats. He wanted it to be very beated out. That day was a big day. It was pretty difficult but I’m working with great people and I trusted Sam. Bruce was amazing. He kills it always, so it just makes my job so much easier to be working with someone so talented.
Even if it’s scripted, is hearing a sexual threat still traumatizing in some way?
I remember I walked into the makeup room because I hadn’t read that script. Carly looked at me and she was like, “Did you read this episode? Do you know what Bruce’s character is going to say to you?” And when I read it, I had no idea what I was going to do because there’s something very disturbing about it. Obviously I worked on it a lot so it didn’t hit me like the first time I read it. We did that scene many times but I do have to say, yeah, it got me every time. It was a pretty explosive monologue.
Did you do ballet in real life?
I love ballet. I did it as a kid. I wish I stuck to it. So that was a really fun scene for me actually. Yeah, I wanted to bring my own toe shoes but I haven’t been in them in 10 years, so we just decided to go flats.
Did they work ballet in because of you?
No, Sam wrote it in and it was kind of a cute moment. I don’t think you’d anticipate that Darlene would be in a ballet class. I think Angela is a perfectionist so I see that ballet would be something that she would be interested in. No, it wasn’t based off of my prior background in dance.
What was your reaction to episode eight?
Well, I knew what was going to happen before it did. I will say when we were all sitting down at the table read, even though a lot of us knew, it was still so shocking. I’ll never forget that table read because everybody could just feel the power of that episode. We literally sat back and were like, “Wow, this is going to be such a massive episode.” Shooting it was amazing. It was just another great experience being on a show and following Sam. I’ll follow Sam into the dark and I can’t say that about everybody. I really trust him.
Angela knew Elliot’s father passed away a long time ago, right?
Yes, Angela’s mother, that’s how they’re kind of linked with each other. They grew up with each other and they actually died for the same reasons, my mother and his father, which I think is a lot of the reason why her and Elliot are enmeshed in that way, because they both went through a very similar childhood trauma, losing one of their parents due to this evil corporation that they’re both trying to take down in very different ways.
How do you receive the fanfare for Mr. Robot? Is it online or do people come up to you?
People come up to me. The response has been overwhelmingly great. I couldn’t have predicted this outcome, but through Twitter, I see a lot of what people draw. There’s a lot of really cool artists out there that have sent stuff in. That’s what makes it worth it, seeing how it affects people and that they enjoy it and relate to it, because I relate to it too. I relate to these characters’ struggles as well. I just saw this kid drew such a beautiful picture of Elliot. I love seeing that.
Have you learned anything from Mr. Robot to help you keep your online transactions safe?
I basically learned that privacy can be hijacked at any point. Whatever you put out there, you have to be willing to lose it. Privacy kind of doesn’t really exist anymore. If you put it out there, someone could get their hands on it so I guess you gotta be careful about how you put out your personal information.
Did you shoot anything else between seasons?
No, I didn’t. My head has been really wrapped up in this show, also in the process of writing something myself. It’s been wrapped up in this world for a while.
Have you written before or is this something new?
I’ve dabbled in it. I really want to get into directing and I think working on a show like this is really inspiring because you get to see people be great at their jobs. But yeah, I would eventually like to explore that area. I don’t know when but it’s always been something that I’ve aspired to get into.
Are you writing something you want to be in?
I just want to be a part of great projects. I just want to be a part of people that are passionate about their jobs like the one I’m on. Everyone comes to work and they want to work. It’s fun and it’s creative. That’s what I hope for with the projects that I work on.
Have you ever had a project stick with you as much as Mr. Robot?
Yeah, I think Youth in Revolt stuck with me because I was so young and it was my first experience in a movie. That definitely has stuck with me. That was a really fun experience, and crazy. It was my first taste of what this would be like.