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For Mr. Robot fans, there’s a lot to love (and to look at) at Chelsea boutique Story’s latest concept. Created in partnership with the USA hacker series, the concept is called "Disrupt Story" and it's got the store tricked out with various arcade games similar to those seen in FSociety’s Coney Island lair and features a hackable ATM that dispenses real cash (up to $50!), bottled water and pens stamped with the E Corp logo, and black American Giant hoodies identical to those worn by Rami Malek’s character, Elliot Alderson.
There’s also a wall of merchandise — ranging from Print All Over Me backpacks and notebooks to Stance socks — printed with an oil-painted representation of the show’s FSociety mask (the one that looks like an evil Mr. Monopoly). As it turns out, that painting’s the work of Carly Chaikin, the 26-year-old actress/artist who plays the brash and brilliant hacker Darlene on Mr. Robot.
Racked caught up with Chaikin at Story’s launch on Monday to talk about the show’s second season, her character’s crazy wardrobe — oh, and that time she got her big break in a Miley Cyrus movie.
Your Mr. Robot character, Darlene, is a highly skilled coder and programmer. How are your real-life tech skills?
They’re not bad, but they’re not Darlene-level! If you asked the cast who’s the best with computers, they’d say me. But just the other day, my computer wouldn’t turn on and I called Apple and was like, "The little wheel’s spinning! It won’t stop!" And I thought to myself, "Carly, come on."
If you could hack into anything without fear of repercussion, what would you do?
So, someone once asked me who I’d hack, and I said Justin Bieber. I feel like that would be the most entertaining thing ever.
Are there any similarities between you and Darlene, other than your obvious computer savvy?
We are similar in a lot of ways, but she’s a much more heightened version of me. Her strength is really incredible. She’s pretty balls-to-the-wall and never lets anyone get in her way when she’s decided to do something. In that way, I think we’re similar: We have a goal, we get it done. But she’s also very careless, and I’d like to think I’m not as insane!
When we first meet Darlene in Season 1, she’s leaning against a building and smoking, wearing this brown fur coat and round sunglasses. Based on first impressions alone, I couldn’t decide whether she reminded me of Marla Singer from Fight Club or Penny Lane from Almost Famous…
Could you ask for two better comparisons? Originally my character’s name was Marlene, and they changed it because they didn’t want people to associate her too much with Marla. We stopped putting her in fur coats for the same reason. But what’s great about Sam [Esmail, the creator of Mr. Robot] is that when people point out that he’s taken references from here or there, he’s like, "Of course! That’s what artists do!"
For me as an actor, though, I don’t ever like to emulate someone else or use another character for reference. I really like to create something original and make a character my own. Of course, when you have good writing, it makes the job so much easier.
I feel like she’s in hot pants and knee-high socks in every episode. Is your style similar in hers at all?
Wait 'til you see this year’s wardrobe — it’s so good. Everything’s elevated to the next level. I’m so jealous, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been like, "Can I just have this?" One of her biggest things is double-layered socks, and recently, I’ve started wearing high socks in my everyday life, too.
Her heart-shaped sunglasses are a signature, too. I love that Story is selling them as part of the installation.
What’s interesting is that in the pilot, I’m actually wearing my own glasses — the round ones. And then later on they showed me the heart glasses and I was like, "Those are epic." Whoever came up with those is a genius. And now, the second I put those glasses on, it’s like boom — I’m Darlene.
She’s always got headphones on — are you really listening to music when you’re shooting those scenes?
Yeah! My Darlene playlist ranges from Eminem’s "Rap God" and "Ass Like That" to Bob Dylan and Neil Young. In a scene where I’ve got headphones on, Sam will have to be like, "Stop rapping — I don’t know what song we’re going to end up putting in here!"
Let’s talk about your artwork for Story! Is this the first time you’ve done a Mr. Robot-inspired painting?
It is — and I did it in four days! Which was a challenge, since oil takes a long time to dry. I’d been wanting to paint the FSociety mask since last season, actually, so this was the coolest opportunity ever. I’m totally buying the backpack … and the socks … and the shirt …
As long as you wear all three simultaneously. Anything you can tell me about Season 2?
Well, we pick up right where we left off — it’s a few weeks after the hack, dealing with the aftermath of what’s happened. In terms of my character, this season we really get to see all the different layers of who Darlene is, and why she’s doing what she’s doing. This season answers a lot of questions, but it’s going to leave you with so many more!
Last question! The first movie you ever did was The Last Song with Miley Cyrus back in 2010. I have to ask: What was it like filming with her, and do you two keep in touch?
It was the coolest first job you could ask for. We filmed in Georgia for the summer, and we had so much fun together. We don’t really talk anymore — because, you know, life — but that set was like summer camp in the way that you get really close with someone and then you go back out into the real world. We had a ball.
Season 2 of Mr. Robot premieres on Wednesday, July 13th at 10 p.m. EST on USA. Story: Disrupt will be open through Sunday, July 24th.