Perhaps there’s nothing quite as nerve-racking as the threat of a hacker getting into all your personal information, stealing your identity, and ruining your life. But right up there is, arguably, watching an episode of Mr. Robot. In fact, it’s the same reason so many are counting down the minutes until tonight’s season-three premiere. Should it offer any comfort, there’s one thing you can rely on being constant and stable in the upcoming episode. (No, not the characters or the plotline—where’s the fun in that?)
As Carly Chaikin, who plays Darlene, tells us, her character will pretty much be seen in the same outfit for the entirety of the season. What once was her “armor”—her boots, military jacket, and even the heart-shaped sunglasses that always felt out of place yet a perfect complement to Darlene’s hardness—has been replaced with sweatpants and a T-shirt. It’s fitting, seeing as her character’s pretty much hit her low since (spoiler alert) being captured by FBI agent Dominique “Dom” DiPierro at the end of season two.
Ahead, learn more about what we can expect from Darlene in season three, how we can tell she’s been complete disarmed, and why Carly, not her character, is actually the person who’s constantly thinking about hackers.
WHO WHAT WEAR: Darlene’s been through a lot. these past couple seasons. How much of you can we see in this character?
CARLY CHAIKIN: I think we have the same essence. I think that’s why people get hired for the parts that they get hired for, because they encompass the essence of that character. I always feel that if I wasn’t as aware or had the growth or knowledge that I’ve had, I would be Darlene. I can emotionally understand everything she does and why she does it. You have to in order to play that person.
WWW: How do you perceive Darlene’s style? What’s the significance of how she presents herself to the world?
CC: I think wardrobe is so important to every character, and a lot of people overlook it. Everyone has to wear clothes, but I think our clothes define us so much. And for her, especially in season two, her outer appearance—the makeup, the jewelry, her jacket, jeans, and socks—were like her armor. It’s her way of being unique, being creative, and feeling powerful. My jacket last year was inspired by Hamilton, so we called it the “Hammy jacket.” It was very militant.
WWW: What can you tell us about how we’ll see her presenting herself in the new season?
CC: It’s really interesting because [at the end of] season two, we leave her in a place where she’s basically lost everything—she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. And in season three, all of that armor she had is stripped away. She doesn’t wear jewelry, she doesn’t her layer socks, she doesn’t wear makeup, she doesn’t have her jacket. She’s basically down to just sweatpants and a T-shirt, and she’s more or less in the same thing every episode.
WWW: Right, as though she’s completely defeated. Tell us: What about Darlene’s heart-shaped glasses? How did those come about?
CC: [Wardrobe] brought me a few choices, and I loved the heart-shaped glasses, and Sam [Esmail, Mr. Robot’s director] did too. For me, they’re so special because the second I put them on, I’m her. And I think the juxtaposition between who she is and wearing those heart-shaped glasses is so cute and empowering and just one of those tiny things that makes her so cool and such a badass. I think that she’s one of very few people who can pull that off.
WWW: Has Darlene ever changed the way you think about your own personal style choices?
CC: I’ve always been like Ugh, I wished I dressed as cool as she does, but I’m just too lazy. The biggest thing is her socks—we always double layer socks. I used to never wear socks that would show, and I’ve started wearing long socks with my sneakers. Other than that, I’m not cool enough to wear all of that.
WWW: How about other aspects of your life that Darlene or Mr. Robot has changed? When you’re talking about hackers all the time, how does that affect the way you use the internet or social media?
CC: Actually last night, someone I’m Twitter friends with had messaged me about sending me their book, someone who I would feel totally comfortable with sharing my home address. But then I thought, Well, wait a second–what if somebody hacked that? What if somebody got into my Twitter, then they have my home address? So I gave them my manager’s address.
WWW: Honestly, how often do you think you’re getting hacked?
CC: All the time! You’re so powerless over it. You could obviously do things to prevent it like the two-step verification, which of course I have, but ultimately, if someone’s going to hack you, there’s nothing you can do. And that’s the scariest thing: If someone’s in your system, you can’t get them out. I also think because of what good hackers we are on the show and what we are capable of, that’s what scares me. But then I have to remind myself most hackers aren’t necessarily capable of that … and the ones that would be hacking me aren’t the same ones who are trying to take down corporate America.