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When 2015 began, actor Rami Malek was arguably best remembered on the small screen for his work in the HBO miniseries The Pacific, at least from a critical standpoint. But then USA's excellent cyber-drama Mr. Robot hit the summer schedule and turned him into headline news and awards fodder. Malek truly is great as the socially awkward and depressed hacker Elliot Anderson, and it might have something to do with him getting pegged for offbeat characters quite often. Here's how he explained dealing with that kind of stereotype in his career.
In the breakdowns for me, I'd always just look for 'quirky' or 'weird,' somewhere in there I was like, that's what I'm going to go in for, surely. And I resented it for a while and then I kinda thought, you know, this is something to be proud of, you know, that you can be that kind of outsider in anything. But at first I was like, 'Here we go again.'
That's got to be a strange feeling for an actor, particularly for Rami Malek, whose Egyptian (and part-Greek) heritage was already going to inform a big part of his acting career, considering how Hollywood works. His debut on the big screen was as King Ahkmenrah in the Night at the Museum movies, if that's any indication. Power to him for looking at it as a plus, rather than a minus, in his comments during the THR Drama Actor Roundtable.
Malek first got his start on television for roles in Gilmore Girls and Over There, with a recurring stint as the best friend Kenny on The War at Home as his biggest gig on that front. In it, he played a teenager who was attracted to his best friend, which was fairly "weird," at least in the context of a 2005 Fox primetime sitcom with Michael Rapaport as a bigoted father. And that's something that will probably follow you around for a while.
Really, though, Malek has made some smart choices as an actor that don't give off the vibe that he's constantly dealing with script pitches about outsiders and quirk-ridden people. His work in Short-Term 12 and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus was great, and he's a dependable presence in otherwise passable stuff like Need for Speed. Plus, he was one of the big reasons why this year's horror video game Until Dawn, which used his voice and likeness, was so excellent.
Whatever had to happen to Rami Malek in the past that brings us to this point, it has led us to being just hours away from the Season 2 premiere of Mr. Robot, in which things are supposed to get even darker and more dangerous for Elliot and his reality-challenged headspace. Here's hoping enough people will be watching to keep Malek and Elliot on our TVs for years to come.
Mr. Robot will return to USA on Wednesday, July 13, at 10 p.m. ET.