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Onetime movie star Christian Slater's film career cooled off long ago. In the past few years, he's attempted TV series stardom without success.
"My Own Worst Enemy" failed in 2008. "The Forgotten" failed in 2010. "Breaking In" failed in 2012. "Mind Games" failed in 2014.
So, yes, Slater is reveling in the success of "Mr. Robot." Not only is the show a hit on cable's USA Network, but Slater won a Golden Globe this year for his role in the series.
It's a bit ironic that the role that brought him renewed success has him playing the man who isn't there.
(If you haven't seen Season 1 of "Mr. Robot" and you want to be surprised, you'll want to stop reading here. But the episode that revealed the Big Secret aired 11 months ago, so it's not exactly in SPOILER ALERT territory.)
We learned in the penultimate episode of Season 1 that Mr. Robot is a figment of the imagination of the delusional Elliott Alderson (Rami Malek) the hacker who brought down the world's biggest conglomerate and may have wrecked the world's economy.
There were reasons for viewers to suspect that in the previous episodes. Slater said he had his suspicions when he read the pilot script.
"I said to my agent, 'Do you think that guy is really there?' " he said. "And my agent was, like, 'Oh, come on. They would never do that. The show is called "Mr. Robot." It would be crazy.' "
Slater asked the show's creator/executive producer, Sam Esmail, "point blank" the first time they met.
"And then he told me pretty much the whole outline of the thing. And I was so thrilled and so excited," Slater said. "I was like, 'Yes! That's so cool!' "
"I was, like, that's really cool, and I just hope we can keep it a secret," he said. "Which was difficult at times when you are on set and you are telling other actors, 'Yeah, just try not to look at him.' "
"Look through him," Slater added.
He admitted there were "certain challenges" to playing a character who's a figment of someone's imagination.
"I was as real as Elliot imagined me to be," said Slater, who clearly had fun with it.
"I would test the other actors. Ask them questions," he said. "And when they'd answer me, I would yell at them."
For Slater, "Mr. Robot" is a career and life reboot of sorts. He's had well-publicized drug and alcohol problems, along with multiple arrests and convictions for offenses ranging from drunk driving to assault.
"Strife and struggle precede success even in the dictionary," he said. As to the success of "Mr. Robot," he thinks, "So far, so good. Proceed with caution and just put one foot in front of the other and really let the chips fall where they may and just take it as it comes."
Clichés aside, the show is hot as it heads into its second season with an extended episode that airs Wednesday on USA 8 p.m. on DirecTV and Dish; 11 p.m. on Comcast. In addition to Slater's supporting-actor win, it took home a Golden Globe as best drama series and Malek was also nominated. It won a Peabody Award. And it's been nominated for four Television Critics Association Awards.
But is Mr. Robot the only imaginary character?
Probably. But maybe not.
Esmail laughed and said he loves the question. "I'm not going to answer it, though," he added.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.