Martin Wallström Online
December 16, 2017   Interviews-Mr. Robot   No Comments

Martin spoke with The Hollywood Reporter recently and discussed Tyrell’s arc from the first three seasons of Mr. Robot, and his thoughts on the newly-announced Season 4.

“Bonsoir, Elliot.”

Two of the most iconic words in Mr. Robotlore, 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 Christofer’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.”

You can also listen to the full Post Show Recaps podcast conversation with Martin by visiting this link!

October 31, 2017   Interviews-Mr. Robot-Videos   No Comments

Martin appeared in Good Day New York yesterday to discuss the current season of Mr. Robot. I’m still unable to find a video of the full interview, but in the meantime, check out a very short clip from it.

October 27, 2017   Interviews-Mr. Robot-TV Shows   No Comments

Mr. Robot creator, Sam Esmail, and Martin spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and discussed the recent episode and creating the key flashback scenes. Warning: If you haven’t seen episode 3 yet, do not read any further as this article contains major spoilers.

First, here’s what Sam discussed about the episode:

The episode pulls the lens back so far to reveal that Elliot as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) did indeed try to kill Tyrell on the night of Five/Nine, and would have succeeded if not for divine intervention — or a jammed gun, if you prefer. Thanks to Irving (Bobby Cannavale) and the Dark Army, Tyrell was safely removed from the world for the entirety of Elliot’s incarceration, before the two were reunited to set the dreaded Stage Two into motion. At the end of the hour, the action jumps forward to Elliot on the operating table shortly after suffering the gunshot wound at Tyrell’s hands. Here, at long last, Tyrell finally learns the truth about the man he admires so much: Elliot Alderson isn’t always Elliot Alderson.

“Initially, I wanted to tease it out throughout the season,” creator Sam Esmail tells The Hollywood Reporter about how Tyrell’s story came together. “I wanted to fill in the blanks. On Mr. Robot, we sometimes employ circular storytelling. We take a step back, show you something and reframe it — then we step back, show you something else and reframe it again. We’re constantly doing that. For Tyrell, because he was such a large part of season one and season two, even if he wasn’t in season two, we felt his story deserved no interruptions. Every time we tried to tease it out in other episodes, it was always too magnetic on its own to just be tagged onto another storyline. We felt it had the weight and an emotional arc for his character that really deserved its own episode.”

“Deciding where that episode fell was a big debate,” Esmail adds. “It’s potentially putting the brakes on the current storyline and taking a huge step back into last season, and telling a story we haven’t seen yet, but doesn’t necessarily have a direct impact on the current storyline. We talked a lot about when the right time would be. We ultimately felt the story deserved its own time and place. I have to be honest, it’s probably my favorite episode of the season. I ended up really loving it.”

And here’s Martin’s interview:

How much wood did you chop for this episode?

(Laughs.) Chopped in the episode, or in the practice beforehand?

Both!

Well, I did get an email from Sam and production around … I don’t know, February or March: “Hey, can you start practicing chopping wood?” So I did! They told me, “You have to be careful. Don’t chop off your leg.” But I did a little practice. In the episode, it was a lot of chopping. But I enjoyed it a lot!

Was it as relaxing for you as it seemed to be for Tyrell?

I don’t know … does it seem relaxing? 

Stress-relieving, at least.

Oh yeah. I was pretty focused on making clean, nice chops. Sometimes, I would just chop and chop and I couldn’t get through it, and the team would start laughing. I was more concerned about making nice, clean cuts.

Tyrell was a mystery man throughout season two. We didn’t know if he was alive or dead until the finale. Has this season been more fulfilling for you, now that Tyrell’s back in the picture?

I have to say, of course, I had a lot more work this year. But I did enjoy [season two]. I thought it was a very bold and smart move from the writers and from Sam. It’s interesting, having someone missing like that. I think it was a good choice. But of course, I have a lot more to do this season. It’s a lot more fun to chop wood than it is to be in the trunk of a car. (Laughs.) I was a bit surprised [with this episode’s story]. Hiding on a farm? I would have never imagined that. That was the most surprising part of it, that he wasn’t that far away. 

What was it like to explore Tyrell in this very different capacity? He’s so associated with the city. What was it like to put him in the country?

It was great. The set and everything they built … and it’s also about how when we’ve seen him in the past two seasons, he’s always in a suit, a tie, nice and tidy hair, a perfectionist. Now we see someone just sort of being one with it. He just accepts where he is. You see that physical change. I thought that was interesting. The way they planned this [episode] was pretty extraordinary. It must be pretty exceptional for a TV show, because we had to plan production around the beard. They did a really good job with that. It also captures Sam in the sense that he always wants everything to be as real as possible with no cheating. When he said, “We have to plan production around the beard,” all these amazing people came together to make the schedule work.

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September 16, 2016   Interviews-Mr. Robot-TV Shows   No Comments

Martin spoke with Hollywood Reporter and talked about the current season of Mr. Robot. Heads up, this interview contains spoilers from episode 2.11, so if you haven’t watched it yet, avoid reading further until you’ve seen it!

What has this entire experience been like — essentially being locked in the trunk of a car, sometimes literally, and not being able to say anything about Tyrell?

I think it’s been kind of cool. I know people have been wondering. There have been questions and theories about the character. But I’ve been sort of enjoying being in the trunk, watching from the outside. What I like about the show is that it’s very brave in the sense that I always get surprised. The choice they made, keeping the character out of it and that mysterious sense, I think it’s been great to watch. Even though Tyrell isn’t always near or in the show, he’s always there, because everybody’s talking about him and wondering where he is. That’s kind of exciting. Sometimes, that’s even more exciting than being on!

It’s an interesting point, in that Tyrell’s time away from the show only further builds the mythology around him. Was there a different energy when you returned to Tyrell, coming back to the show after so long, after spending so much of the season as something of a boogeyman for Elliot?

Yeah. As you say, he’s this boogeyman, or an x-factor… that’s what I had seen him as, even in season one. That’s the way he interacts with Elliot. If you’re going to be practical about it, I shot most of this entire season at once. To me, as an experience, I didn’t experience that coming back, being here and being there. It’s more in seeing it now, the absence of him. I can see that when I see the series, but I couldn’t feel it when I shot the scenes.

How much did you end up shooting this season? Of course we saw Tyrell in some sequences here and there, but few and far between…

Well, it’s hard to compare. This season was block shot, instead of episode for episode. So it was actually more intense for me, this season, than last year. It was just more compressed.

What were your conversations with Sam Esmail like as you two discussed Tyrell’s story in season two? 

We have conversations about character and what’s coming. I kind of knew the overall arc, but what I feel is so great is that even when we shot season one, sometimes we wouldn’t know what was going to happen in the next episode. You have to play the scenes anyway, not knowing what’s coming. I think that’s the beauty of this show. You just lean back and enjoy the ride, and trust that whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. Not knowing too much in advance, sometimes, is a blessing. At least it is for me. It makes me very relaxed, feeling that I’m a part of this, and let’s just go for this ride.

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June 28, 2016   Interviews-Mr. Robot   No Comments

Working steadily in his native Sweden for almost two decades, Martin Wallström made a visceral, forceful debut stateside last year in USA hacker drama series Mr. Robot. Assuming the role of cunning, intense and dangerously ambitious tech exec Tyrell Wellick—a Patrick Bates type with a penchant for power and classical music—Wallström admittedly sees a few shades of himself in the character. “I’d say we share the same country of birth, we share a fascination of watches, and then I guess music. Let there never be more than three of those,” Wallström laughs, without a whit of Wellick’s false, fumbling air. “We kind of look like each other, but that’s it.”

Preparing his self-tape for the role overseas, Wallström saw in the part an exciting mystery, and a powerful rollercoaster ride to come. Memorably, in his first read, Wallström enacted Wellick’s darkly humorous scene from episode 3, slapping himself in the face repeatedly while giving himself the world’s worst pep talk. Taking in this scene on the page, did Wallström have any idea who this character was, or who he was to become? “No, not at all,” he admits. “I think I was on the right track, but I discovered that he was very driven by fear—driven by stuff that he’s afraid to lose, or things that he doesn’t want to become.”

A showrunner who generally keeps his cards close to his chest, Sam Esmail surprisingly welcomed Wallström into the hazy world of Mr. Robot by divulging a bit of backstory, though the notion of a driving fear was what the pair returned to time and time again. “Sam and I talked a bit about the backstory—but backstory, that’s the whole life, and you can never cover and know everything about the character,” the actor says. Secure in the leadership of Esmail, Wallström welcomed the atmosphere of total uncertainty fostered by the series, finding satisfaction in making his character discoveries in media res.

The character that Wallström discovered is a skittish elitist on the verge of living his worst nightmare. A villain among villains, Wellick’s façade of control cracks as his corporate power dissolves, leaving him to face the instantaneous, shattering loss of everything he has. “I thought a lot about it: how can I relate to losing everything in one second—my entire world?” Wallström reflects. The answer came, unfortunately, in immersing himself in personal tragedy. “My father passed away 10 years ago, and that was a phone call where you lose everything in a second. I guess that’s the way I can relate to the fear,” he shares.

In inhabiting the character, and reaching his own understanding, Wallström also contemplated the possibility of mental illness, in all its varieties. “I talked to a lot of people about whether he’s a psychopath, or a sociopath, and there’s all these different ‘paths’ you can be,” he explains. “I think that he is not fully blown of anything, although I think he is very aware of how to use the best of a psychopath. He’s wearing these masks, but we can see that it’s just falling apart.”

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