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BD Wong on Playing Trans (and Badass) in Mr. Robot Season 2

BD Wong on Playing Trans (and Badass) in Mr. Robot Season 2


"The last thing I wanted to be was a man disguised as a woman. I think that’s old."

"I was incredibly nervous," says BD Wong of taking on his role as a transgender hacker in the first season of USA's Golden Globe-winning tech thriller Mr. Robot. Yet if anyone could, well, hack it, why not him? The versatile actor brought Broadway to its feet playing a male spy disguised as a female opera diva in 1988's M. Butterfly. Still, that did nothing to assuage his anxiety about portraying the mysterious Whiterose, who returns for Robot's second season in July.

Out: You were anxious about playing trans, but you received such acclaim for playing another gender before.

BD Wong: When you get an offer to do a TV show, you don't always know where the producers are coming from. I said, "Whoa, I don't want to exploit a maligned community of people." The last thing I wanted to be was a man disguised as a woman. I think that's old.

What sold you?

Sam [Esmail, Mr. Robot's creator] was able to allay my fears: He said Whiterose wasn't a man disguised as a woman -- she was a woman disguised as a man. And that was very different to me. There are things in the second season we keep having dialogue about: "Tell me why this is happening, so I can be comfortable with it."

Had you had the chance to play another gender since M. Butterfly?

It hadn't come up in 25 years. My 28-year-old self thought I'd never do it again -- that if I did, I'd never get out of doing it. Besides, there was never going to be a part again as good as that one. But I thought, This is interesting. It's time for me to bury any stigma I had about doing it again.

How did you adjust to Whiterose's hair and makeup?

[Laughs] I had to dismantle this hard drive with these really long fingernails on. And I had these toweringly fabulous shoes. Nobody ever saw them, but I insisted on wearing them all night. There was a lot of physical discomfort involved. It was a nightmare of props and costumes crashing together.

Mr. Robot Season 2 returns July 13 on USA.

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