Rami Malek was always a creative kid. After he found himself reciting dialogue following the end credits of his favorite films as a kid, the Los Angeles native foresaw his undeniable talent leading him to a full-time career as an actor.
"I was always just left with my own devices and my imagination," he told Maxim. "I knew there was something going on in there that I had to get out."
Years later, Malek finally fulfilled that dream. The 34-year-old has become a valuable player in the entertainment industry, playing opposite the likes of Robin Williams, Kiefer Sutherland, and Aaron Paul in both the TV and film spectrum. Despite his impressive repertoire, it's his new role as elusive, hoodie-wearing hacker Elliot Alderson on the runaway USA series, Mr. Robot that has Hollywood and the entertainment press obsessed with the fledgling star.
Photo by: Christopher Saunders/USA Network
"It's so funny, it's that hard of career that I'm realizing right now that everyone is discovering me with this show," he says. "I felt like I've done enough work that people would think I'm a recognizable actor, and it makes me laugh at how difficult this industry can actually be."
Rami's electric performance as the anxiety-ridden, drug-addled and perpetually unreliable Elliot, combined with the show's intricate, gritty exploration of the world of modern hacking and cyberterrorism has drawn enough praise to secure its spot as best show of the summer. Already picked up for a second season well before the first episode had a chance to premiere, Mr. Robot will continue to explore the dark corners of the Web with Rami at the helm and show us just how frightening life behind the keyboard can be.
"The show raises these questions of connectivity and human interaction and how far technology might be driving us, compared to real pure human connection," he says. "Is liking something on Facebook connecting with someone? Maybe it is. The fact that we pose the questions allows for a larger conversation, which is the type of project I'm happy to be a part of."
Maxim spoke with the most sought-after man in Hollywood about finding a place to reflect, why every guy needs to own a good pen, and that infamous black Mr. Robot hoodie.
I have this grey sweatshirt that used to have a hole in the back, but it’s been with me since as long as I can remember. I remember sitting by a fire, and I felt the heat on my back, and it was burning my clothing. I walked away and it had this really cool hole in it, and I ended up sewing it shut, but there’s something about this sweatshirt, it makes me feel at home, so I take that sucker everywhere. It’s lasted so long, the material, they don’t make things like that anymore. It can survive a fire and it’s lasted me about 16 years.
Photo by: Peter Kramer/USA Network
I like using the word ‘horseshit.’ I think I said that as a character once and I thought why would you say that, and I think it has something to do with the heaping amount of nastiness that you could throw that at if you would want to use that word. And people start to think why did he say that, what was so bad? It’s a powerful word.
Every guy should be the owner of a really nice pen. When you put your thoughts down, or whenever you’re going to share something with someone, it means something if it bleeds out in a nice ink.
I usually find myself hiking in a place that not a lot of people go hiking, just trying to find some solitude. I like being out in the middle of nowhere. Not always, but it’s a good place to go to just reflect and think, and it’s something I really enjoy. I grew up in LA so I’m lucky enough to still know some stops that are not traversed as much as others. There’s a lot of places that are still a little remote and undiscovered. It makes me feel like I’m still at home because there’s a couple secrets I still have.
Right now, my most prized possession would have to be that Mr. Robot hoodie because it’s mine and it’s Elliot's.
As for what's next, I got really fortunate that people having been watching the show and some great directors have responded. It’s been a very special moment for me, and I’ll get to do a special small movie and then a big studio movie right before I get into season 2, so I’ll be kept real busy. I’m looking forward to it though, both roles will be a stretch which I’m always intrigued to do.
Photos by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portrait