When I heard that Joey Bada$$, the 21-year-old Brooklynite who has made a huge impact in his hip-hop career on a more independent level, had been cast in the second season of USA’s cult TV show Mr. Robot back in March, I wasn’t as excited as some of my peers, primarily because I hadn’t had a chance to binge watch. I’ve since rectified that problem, and have spent the last few months more paranoid than ever, but upon thinking on this new season, I wasn’t sure where Joey Bada$$ would fit in. Part of that is due to his relative rookie status as an actor, but ultimately I just couldn’t picture this Brooklyn rapper in a show about a mentally addled hacker.
Any questions regarding a) Joey’s acting chops and b) how he fits into the Mr. Robot universe are answered fairly early into the season two premiere as we’re introduced to Leon, a guy that Elliot shares all of his meals with (and accompanies to local basketball games) while he’s living in isolation at his mom’s house. As we find out very quickly, their relationship feels mostly one-sided, with Joey’s character hilariously pontificating on the meaning (or lack of meaning?) of Seinfeld, a show he just discovered. We catch a glimpse of his more serious side later on in the premiere, but ultimately, his actual backstory and inclusion in the season is a mystery that I’m down to unravel.
Joey Bada$$ stopped by the Complex offices recently to talk about some shit that I can’t speak on for fear that fsociety will make my life a living hell. Other than that, he did talk about tackling his first acting gig and his plans on taking the rapper-turnt-actor game to higher heights than Tupac did.
Was acting something you always wanted to get into?
I’ve been into acting since I was in high school. I got accepted into Edward R. Murrow for the Screen Theatre program. When I got to high school is when I met everybody from my crew and was like rapping in the hallways. I pretty much knew that music was the thing I had to pursue at that point in my life. I always thought that if music worked out for me that acting would just be easier. You see like rappers getting into movies: Cube, Tupac, LL. That’s how I always looked at it and now here I am. [But] it wasn’t that they just gave me the role—I actually had to audition three times until they finally cast me.
Were you a fan of Mr. Robot prior to auditioning?
I actually did not know anything about this show prior to the audition. It came, it was on the table and my agency brought it up. The same week I had to audition on Tuesday and the prior Sunday they had just won the Golden Globe; they beat Game of Thrones. I was like “Holy shit.” I never even heard about this show but all my friends watch Game of Thrones and go crazy over it. So I’m like if this show beat Game of Thrones, this must be a big deal.
What parts of the show appeal to you?
I love the whole conspiracy theory aspect. Also the whole hacking thing. I’ve always had an interest in hacking, hackers, and the way that stuff works. It’s not that they show you how to get into it but his mind is going crazy. Being able to hack anything and anybody is super sick, super tight. It also makes me super cautious as well. Anybody could be hacking your shit out here.
What would you say is the hardest thing getting into the acting game?
For me, it was the first day I was on set I had this scene with Rami Malek and Christian Slater. I had to be at their bar or better and their bar is set pretty fucking high.
Yeah, they really brought it during season one.
Season two…season one ain’t got nothing on season two. Not at all. If season two were season one, a whole bunch of people would be on this show. Let’s put it like that.
Do you have any plans for future roles or are you just taking it step by step?
I’m auditioning for anything that sparks my interest. Like I said, acting is something that I really want to get into whenever the time permits and the universe makes the opportunities come forward I’m going to take it.
Have you ever thought about doing any kind of producing or directing?
Oh yeah. That’s in the future, too. It’s all going to come into fruition really soon and I can’t wait. I’m really excited for my acting career. I plan on being in movies. I want to continue and pass where ‘Pac left it at. Pac was on his way, I want to be on that path plus more.
Mr. Robot is a great place to start.
For sure, it’s going to open a lot of doors and opportunities for me. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.