Portia Doubleday on Her Exit From ‘Mr. Robot’ And The ‘Fantasy Island’ Experience

[This interview contains Mr. Robot season four spoilers.]

Fans of Mr. Robot were stunned in October 2019 when Portia Doubleday revealed that she has decided to depart the programme earlier than anticipated. Even the show’s creator, Sam Esmail, said that the writers had not intended for Angela Moss to leave Doubleday early in the series. Even though the performer makes several allusions to the reasons why she chose to leave her iconic part much ahead of schedule, she insists that it is in keeping with Mr. Robot’s innovative ethos.

“There were several considerations in that. For months and months and months, I contemplated doing it,” Doubleday tells The Hollywood Reporter. The fact that Sam never does what you want him to do is ultimately what was inspiring about that conclusion. … He is erratic, and I believe that is what makes the programme so unique. Although Angela and Elliot (Rami Malek) shared intimate moments, their relationship lacked the heartfelt warmth that someone with my less refined tastes would like. That show is not that one.

Doubleday was already hard at work on Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island, her first post-Mr. Robot role, as the final season of Mr. Robot began filming in New York. Doubleday had Mr. Robot on her mind even though she was filming Fantasy Island on the island of Fiji because she knew she would need to shoot her closing scenes when Fantasy Island was finished.

Doubleday remembers, “I was in Fiji and I was messaging them when they were in the heart of winter in New York.” Consequently, a part of me thought, “Yeah, this is better. (Laughs.) No, I lived there. I spent five years watching Mr. Robot. I have a thing for the character Angela. Fuck you, guy. You understand.

In an interview with THR, Doubleday discusses her time on Mr. Robot, the Fiji shoot for Fantasy Island, and her desire to follow in the footsteps of her father, actor Frank Doubleday.

What is it like to run across Fiji at night?

When people visit stunning locations, I detest hearing them utter things like, “You have to go. I can now say, “It’s so lovely,” because I am that person. The most magical place I’ve ever visited is without a doubt Fiji. It is amazing. No pollution exists. They have a concept known as “Fiji time,” which is short for “no rush, no worries.” It moves quite slowly. They open their houses to everyone. Speaking with the locals about how wonderful the weather is makes them grateful, and vice versa. Living in paradise has an impact on who you are and how you live. For us Americans, it’s like night and day. (Laughs.)

Aside from that, it’s never enjoyable to run while wearing heels, so that part was nuts. Fiji’s lack of poisonous animals and insects is an additional cool feature. There were spiders, too, but at least I knew they wouldn’t poison me. So that’s a benefit. It’s entertaining since this is a horror movie, too. With the exception of the heels, running like you’re being pursued was actually pretty cool, and ever since I was a child, I’ve imagined myself doing it in scary movies.

When you first read your first scene in the script, did Drew Barrymore’s opening scene in Scream come to mind?

Yes! Definitely. One of my favourite horror films, and what a classic beginning. I can still clearly recall it.

Is it generally difficult to pass up a stunning spot like Fiji when considering what to do next?

A setting may seem fantastic, but I still need to be fully committed to the idea. I have to be interested in playing the role.

During your downtime, you and your cast members appeared to be having a great time. In your experience, does that typically assist the product displayed on the screen?

I agree, particularly in those group scenarios. It fosters a certain sense of unity. In that sense, it’s similar to being a member of a sports team. When you’re in a scene, things simply start to sync up that you don’t notice. A scene can undoubtedly change when you are confident that those around you have your back. You don’t need to be self-conscious or worried that you’ll make a mistake. It impacts how we engage with one another as a team and makes it more of a team effort. Something happens when you leap down a particularly hazardous waterfall with your friends. (Laughs.)

In one scene, Sloane, a character you play, gathers with a few other people by a waterfall. Was that the waterfall you and your friends jumped out of in your free time?

No, that waterfall was considerably higher. I simply recall that the first time I experienced the sensation of falling as in a dream was when I leaped off. Usually, when you dive into a pool, you only hold your breath until you are submerged for a short period of time. Because you’re holding your breath and cognizant of it for a lot longer before you reach the water, this was incredibly horrifying. The movie’s waterfall was really lovely. To get there, we had to hike for an hour, during which time some people became ill. Crew members had to climb an hour up the mountain with their gear, and several of the locations we photographed were inaccessible by road. With my running sequences, we simply had to create one. They carved a path through a mountain, but it wasn’t there. Fiji is just like that. Bathrooms and trailers were absent. You were one with the planet; the bathroom was the mountain. (Laughs.) It was hardcore to the extreme. It was undoubtedly the hardest job I’ve ever worked on in terms of resources and physicality. They shut it off before we could actually walk through the waterfall. You want to drink the water because it was so incredible.

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When they were in high school, you bullied Melanie, a character played by Lucy Hale, and Melanie has suffered as a result ever since. Is it nearly difficult to avoid drawing on your own experiences when playing either the bully or the victim of bullying, given that the majority of individuals have experienced bullying to varied degrees?

No doubt. I believe that the number of bullies is higher than we realise. When I discuss it with my friends, they all admit to having experienced bullying at some point. It occurs a lot. A lot. I can thus relate to that. I can relate to the notion of getting even with someone, especially if it involves teen justice or retaliation. I can therefore understand that fantasy and why others could share it, particularly when thinking of high school lads. When you become older, bullying takes on a different form, as it did for me in high school. In an institution, there is just no pressure for you to spend four years with the same group of people. Melanie is aware that Sloane treated her horribly.

Were you able to complete the torture sequence where Sloane is doused in water without needing numerous takes?

No, the director, Jeff Wadlow, and I were just providing commentary, and he said, “Yeah, we only did it like twice!” I responded, “No, no. Undoubtedly not. (Laughs.) It was perplexing since we had to perform the electric shock, but since I had already been drenched, we could repeat that action. Just getting me dry again was difficult, and I believe we had to do it once. I had to remain drenched the entire time. There were therefore dunkings and what they referred to as “small dunks.” They had to keep soaking me because the entire day I was drenched in water. That much is certain: it was a torture chair.

Was the water at least a good temperature?

Some people had warmer water buckets… (Laughs.) However, not the water they spilled. At least the temperature in Fiji was 80 degrees, unlike the movie where it was toilet water. Therefore, it could have been worse.

Michael Pena informed me that you guys actually shot in a cave after I initially believed it to be a soundstage. For the actors and crew, was was yet another journey?

Oh my God, it was and it was amazing. I have several photos of Fiji that don’t appear to be real; they appear to have been Photoshopped. When you view the movie, what you are seeing is accurate; everything, even the cave, actually appears like that. There were a tonne of bats flying over our heads as we were filming in the cave.

Sloane’s clothing, like the aforementioned heels, was probably inappropriate for an island setting. At the wrap party, did you get to burn one of the dresses?

I desired to! I’m still awaiting their delivery of it. My greatest enemy was that garment. It irked me. Every time I put it on, they had to sew me into it, and since they manufactured it, the front didn’t fit. There were numerous variations of the clothing because when you wear the same outfit for the duration of a movie, it goes through various stains. You heard me right, I assure you. It was awful. It would rip apart if I performed any running scenes, requiring them to repair it again. I’m still waiting for them to ship it to me so I can sit alone in my backyard and burn it like a complete loon. (Laughs.)

Was it as enjoyable as it seemed to play your own doppelgänger for a scene or two?

really cool That scene was an addition. In New Orleans, we actually had to reshoot that. How can I make something absolutely weird and unique, you ask yourself. Her resemblance to Sloane was what made her strange and frightening. Jeff and I worked on the choreography, and I kept thinking, “Am I staring in a mirror?” She is portrayed as having degenerated and being the worst aspect of this character. It’s awesome. It’s challenging since you have to have excellent memorization of all your motions. It must appear to be entirely coordinated. It reminded me of the mirroring exercises we did in acting class. Additionally, it was so much easier because I was working with a highly talented actress. It was incredibly cool to see how she imitated my movements while doing my sides. We created that ad a few months before the release.

The monologue you gave when Sloane called her husband was impressive. Do you manage your energy wisely to make sure it all goes into the scene when you know you have a demanding scene to shoot that day?

I can tell you a tale about that. I was very nervous about that situation. I knew Jeff wouldn’t use some of the other takes because they were just too extreme. It’s challenging because we were pressed for time and had to make decisions that would get us where we needed to go. I undoubtedly wore my headphones the entire day. It was also my audition scene, and once I perform the first of my auditions, I normally get into my brain. So, before I enter my audition, I perform bizarre bodily acts in the bathroom. It will be easier for me to connect with the person I’m reading with if I can get more into my body rather than my head. When I tried it again, Jeff Wadlow gave me such an amazing note that it dramatically altered my experience. When directors let you to work, I adore it. That was therefore pretty nice. We experimented with many things before drawing it in. When you have scenes like that, all you can do is hope they land. The best approach is to enter the situation with no expectations because I never know what will happen. My life was made much simpler by working with Lucy. She is a machine and a pro. “Sometimes, I’ll start a sentence, and I don’t even know where it’s going,” The Office’s Michael Scott admits. Anyway, that scene was created by me. (Laughs.)

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[Season 4 of Mr. Robot] big spoilers follow.]

Was it beneficial to be this far away from the show given that Sam Esmail and company began filming the final season while you were still in Fiji given that your time on Mr. Robot was about to come to an end?

No and yes. I frequently texted them from Fiji. Sincerity be damned, I believe there were other aspects of the event that were difficult. I was aware; Sam and I had helped me make the decision to depart. There was a very long pause, perhaps two years. It was intriguing because when I returned to the set, something had changed. It was a different crew, and because so much time had elapsed, it seemed like a completely other set to me. That last day, I was absolutely devastated. These individuals, I mean, I love them. That was difficult. But while they were in the midst of winter in New York, I was texting them from Fiji. So I thought, “Yeah, this is better,” in a small way. (Laughs.) No, I lived there. I spent five years watching Mr. Robot. I have a thing for the character Angela. Fuck you, guy. You got it.

By far, Angela was my favourite character on the show. I was therefore rather irritated about the premiere when I received the episodes a few weeks early, especially since I was unable to express my frustration to anyone. Because of how much she cared for her mother throughout the series, I’ve always had the impression that Whiterose (BD Wong) deserved some sort of retaliation from Angela. On the other hand, as the show went on, Elliot’s sentiments for his parents only grew more difficult. In addition, Whiterose tricked Angela into aiding a terrorist attack, thus retaliation was also necessary in that sense. You admitted that you were the one who asked Angela to leave the show in your exit interview, which I read after the premiere had actually broadcast. Esmail’s interview did not recognise Doubleday’s request to leave the programme. [Editor’s note: What led you to the conclusion that it was time for you and Angela to go, then?

(Sighs.) There were many considerations in that. I gave it months and months and months of thinking. The fact that Sam never does what you want him to do is ultimately what was inspiring about that conclusion. He will undoubtedly bring some issues to a close and provide you with some satisfaction. He is erratic, and I believe that is what makes the programme so unique. Although Angela and Elliott shared intimate moments, their relationship lacked the heartfelt warmth that someone with my less refined tastes would want. That show is not that one. Sam would exclaim, “TM!” or “too much,” every time we leaned into that. Unusual, intriguing, and somewhat realistic, in my opinion, is what happens between Price (Michael Cristofer) and Angela at that very moment rather than her taking down Whiterose. The huge gain is when she confronts Price about the hypocrisy at that very moment. It’s all garbage, and her father, who essentially made her into a monster, is a hypocrite. In the end, I think she is the most awakened and the most brave for doing what she did since it really doesn’t matter anymore. Furthermore, it will always be a mystery what Whiterose showed her; you still don’t know. You are unaware of her knowledge. I’m not sure if that was a sufficient response, but it’s been a while since I’ve thought about the programme.

Did you film the Skype session for your death scene while you were in New York, or did you do it after you got back to Los Angeles?

No, I actually shot that Skype sequence in New York. Because it was my first scene there when I arrived and I had anticipated seeing A and B cam, I detested that scene. I have no idea why I was considering it; obviously, it would be on a computer. But it sucked since I wasn’t looking at anyone. As I was gazing at this computer, I became aware that it was harder than I had anticipated. You cannot act out the scene. Just a simple “And go!” “Who am I staring at?” I ask. Nobody.” So, it was difficult. The was funny, Sam had picked out that pink room.

Although I’m quite sure you didn’t take the running photographs while wearing your wedding gown…

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I did, indeed! (Laughs.) I’m over running in high heels. I won’t ever repeat it. On the dock, all I was doing was running in that bridal dress.

Forgive me, please. I knew you took the wide shot in front of the Ferris wheel, but since the camera made a point of hiding your face during the running scene, I mistakenly thought you were working with a double.

Yes, I did it all. On Mr. Robot, I didn’t do any double-dealing. I’ve always done my own work, including all of the oners and stunts. On the show, I didn’t perform any outrageous feats, but it was all me.

Sam got you some Pradas as a wrapping gift; have you worn them or are you bronzing and showing them off?

They are being bronzed and displayed in a glass cabinet. All of my Mr. Robot memorabilia is in one place. Oh my God, I always cry when I see that. Such a major event occurred. I’m crying just thinking about it, but I will always keep them.

Did you have a strategy for the most of the scenes you played Angela in, or did you react to Sam, [DP] Tod [Campbell], and your scene mates most of the time?

With Sam Esmail, I had such good luck. There were numerous occasions when I was aware of what he wanted me to do, and that was undesirable. When I realised what he wanted, my body simply refused to comply. Recently, we went shooting on numerous occasions. “I know precisely what you want, but it’s not going to happen,” I would say in a panic. (Laughs.) When I become disorganised and lose myself, something seeks its own path. Even though I occasionally have a rough map, Sam would say, “Okay, we’ll just turn around and turn back around,” if I was unable to shoot a scene. That never occurs. Because of my sensitivity, I have to be extremely shielded, which is incredibly frustrating. I can’t push it, and if I do, my body will fight back even more vehemently. When you have someone like Sam who is really easygoing and says, “I’ve got your back,” it just gets so aggravating. We’ll just go back the way we came, and that’s how I actually arrived there. I was able to get there thanks to a fantastic director’s permission, respect, and attention. I’ll have a plan on what I want to do for other scenes. I’ll have a backup strategy for the more challenging scenes. The performers you work with are fantastic, and they will completely alter any previous ideas you may have had. When I was working with Grace Gummer, I recall being so engrossed in what she was saying that I forgot my line. Many different things influence it. Additionally, there is the scene where Elliot and Angela are separated by a door. He is in red light, and I believe that I am illuminated by white light. Imagine how amazing that scene would have been if Angela had been in front of Elliot in her apartment. Tod Campbell, Sam Esmail, the writers of Mr. Robot, and a brilliant cast helped make that shot possible. Simply said, it would have been different. The lighting, by Tod Campbell, truly came to life. The list of variables is endless. Because of this, it’s crucial that you get along with and are aware of your coworkers. Once you are on the set, all of your plans may alter. Anything in my head doesn’t really work for situations where I’m very exposed. I must thus devise strategies to deceive myself into entering those settings.

You’ve accomplished a lot in this industry, but what genre-related projects are you still looking forward to?

A few years ago, my father, the actor Frank Doubleday, died away.

I apologise.

It’s fine; thank you for that. I’m just going to throw this out there into the zeitgeist: I want to play Romero. He played Romero in Escape From New York. I’m aware that they will remake it; in fact, I am aware of this. I don’t sure where they are in their process, but someone has the rights to remake it, and I really want to play Romero in Escape From New York. Although I think his performance is absolutely fantastic, I have been considering that.

Well, despite how painful it was to learn that Angela would be leaving Mr. Robot sooner than expected, I still want to thank you for the role you played. Be it the Terry Colby sequences or the infamous Prada moment, there’s something incredibly cool about a character who ultimately learns their power like she did toward the end of season one.

You stated something that I won’t soon forget. You just caused me to cry. That should be mentioned in the interview.

*** Fantasy Island will be released on VOD/Blu-ray on May 12 and is currently accessible in digital HD.

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