Sam Esmail at SXSW 2016
|Born||September 17, 1977|
Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.
Sam Esmail (Arabic: سام إسماعيل, born September 17, 1977) is an American film and television producer, director, and screenwriter who runs the production company Esmail Corp. He is best known as the creator, writer and director of the television series Mr. Robot (2015–2019), starring Rami Malek. He directed the psychological thriller Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and Janelle Monae, which premiered on Amazon Video in November 2018. Esmail's work often centers on the themes of alienation, technology, and American society, and he is known to work with cinematographer Tod Campbell and producer Chad Hamilton of Anonymous Content.
Esmail was born to Egyptian immigrant parents in Hoboken, New Jersey. He has an older sister and two younger brothers, including Samer who was an editor for Mr. Robot and Homecoming. His family is Muslim.
When he was five years old, his family moved to South Carolina then to Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended high school in Summerville, South Carolina where, he said, "I used to hold Stanley Kubrick film festivals at my house in high school. These are not cool things. Back in my day, those are things that you would get beaten up for," adding, "When you're a funny-looking Egyptian growing up in Jersey and South Carolina, it kind of gets rough." The family eventually moved back to Sewell, New Jersey, where Esmail graduated from Washington Township High School in 1995. As a kid, Esmail was very interested in technology. Esmail acquired his first computer when he was nine and began computer programming a few years later.
Esmail attended New York University where he studied film and computer science. He graduated in 1998 from the university's Tisch School of the Arts. While attending the school, Esmail worked in its computer lab before being put on academic probation for hacking emails there.
After graduating he briefly worked for an internet start-up, before founding his own ISP software company called Portal Vision. At age 20, he raised US$6 million in venture capital funding during the dot-com boom but the software quickly became outdated when broadband internet began replacing dial-up. He left his position as president and chief technology officer to briefly attend Dartmouth College's creative writing program.
2004–2014: Early career
After graduating the AFI Conservatory in 2004, Esmail struggled to find work and held odd jobs. He worked as an assistant editor for a few years and was eventually able to establish a career as a post-production supervisor of behind-the-scenes features and television specials; his work included helping to edit episodes of reality television shows for Lifetime and A&E and stand-up specials for Comedy Central, HBO's documentary series Tourgasm and HBO First Look, and "the making of" features for The Fast and the Furious franchise, as well as supervise the 2010 A&E documentary The Battle for Late Night.
When not working as a full-time editor, Esmail worked on writing screenplays. Frustrated with his career, Hollywood, and its films, Esmail began writing his own feature films. His screenplay, Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations landed on 2008's Black List, a yearly survey of over six hundred production companies and film executives of the "most liked" motion picture screenplays not yet produced. After this, he was able to find representation in Hollywood and began working more as a screenwriter; he wrote another screenplay that also landed on the Black List the following year and co-wrote the horror film Mockingbird with writer Bryan Bertino, which was released in 2014.
He wrote seriously for years before stopping to focus on his passion, directing. He began writing his own feature-length directorial debut, Comet, which was released by IFC Films in 2014. Comet premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and had a limited box office release.
2014–present: Mr. Robot and prestige television
Originally intending it as a follow-up feature film to Comet, Esmail began working on the technological thriller Mr. Robot in the late 2000s, inspired in part by the 2008 financial crisis and the Arab Spring. He has said that the main character, Elliot, is a "thinly-veiled version" of himself; like Elliot, Esmail also suffers from social anxiety and is from Washington Township in New Jersey. He was later inspired to take what he had written and create a pilot for what he imagined would be a four-or-five season show. He shopped his projects around to many different television networks and began developing the show with USA Network in 2014.
Mr. Robot premiered on the USA Network on June 24, 2015. Esmail is the creator, executive producer and head writer of the series. Beginning with season two, Esmail also directed all episodes of the show; in total he directed thirty-eight of its forty-five episodes. The first season of the show was critically acclaimed and Esmail himself was nominated for two Emmys, among other awards. The following three seasons of the show premiered in July 2016, October 2017, and October 2019, respectively.
In a 2015 interview, Esmail explained the influence of his experiences as a first-generation American on his work, saying, "I tend to write about alienated figures who can't connect with others and who are kind of distant from American culture. It's not something I am consciously doing but it's something that happens to be infused inside me because of my experience growing up in America."
Producing television and Esmail Corp
Following the wide recognition of Mr. Robot, Esmail formed his own production company, Esmail Corp. In February 2019, it was announced that Esmail had signed his company to a four-year exclusive deal with Universal Content Production with whom he had already produced Mr. Robot, Homecoming, and Briarpatch.
Esmail was one of the executive producers and director of the Amazon Video series Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and Bobby Cannavale. He received strong reviews for his direction of the show, which premiered in November 2018. In 2018, Esmail worked on creating the television show Briarpatch with journalist and producer Andy Greenwald, who previously hosted the Mr. Robot aftershow Hacking Robot on USA. The show, which Esmail executive produces, was picked up by USA Network in 2019.
In 2019, it was announced that Esmail was developing a limited series with Emmy Rossum for the NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock based on the Los Angeles pseudo-celebrity Angelyne. Esmail is also developing a series for the Battlestar Galactica franchise for NBCU. Other projects in various stages of production include a mini-series based on the 1927 sci-fi classic Metropolis, a movie centered on the Bermuda Triangle, and the ensemble comedy False Alarm written by Black Monday producers Rob Turbovsky and Matteo Borghese. He is also producing a scripted podcast series for the UCP Audio network called This End Up. With screenwriter Andy Siara, Esmail is developing the television series The Resort, a darkly comedic anthology which features true crime stories that took place at resorts. In February 2020, it was announced that Esmail would develop one of the initial projects for Condé Nast's new Wired Studio; called Tell Tale Heart, his film is based on the 2019 Wired article of the same name. Later that month, it was also announced that Esmail would be producing a new television series with Homecoming collaborator Julia Roberts based on the Slow Burn podcast's coverage of the Watergate scandal. In September 2020, Esmail sold two dramas to ABC.
Since 2018, Esmail has been developing a film with Universal Pictures and Mr. Robot star Rami Malek based on the memoir American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury and Kevin Maurer; the story centers on a Muslim FBI agent working for the agency post-9/11. Two years following the initial announcement, in September 2020, it was announced that screenwriter Nazrin Choudhury is attached to pen the film. Esmail and Malek are also working together on another undisclosed project.
In August 2015, Esmail became engaged to actress Emmy Rossum after dating for two years. He had directed her in his directorial debut, Comet. She is Jewish and they were married on May 28, 2017, at a Reform synagogue in New York City.
|2002||The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special||No||No||Yes||Short film|
|2004||Deep Down in Florida||Yes||No||No||Short film|
|2008–2009||HBO First Look||No||No||No||Post-production coordinator (3 episodes)|
|2010||The Battle for Late Night||No||No||No||Post-production supervisor (documentary)|
|2015–2019||Mr. Robot||Yes||Yes||Yes||Creator; director (38 episodes), writer (24 episodes), actor (6 episodes)|
|2018–present||Homecoming||Yes||No||Yes||Director (10 episodes)|
- Rossum, Emmy (September 17, 2017). "Happy birthday, @samesmail". Emmy Rossum verified Instagram account. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- Eells, Josh (July 7, 2016). "'Mr. Robot': Inside TV's Hacktivist Breakout Hit". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 23, 2019. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
Esmail, 38 [as of July 7, 2016]...
- Stanhope, Kate (June 24, 2015), "'Mr. Robot' Creator on the Sony Hack, Antiheroes and the Dangers of Facebook", The Hollywood Reporter, archived from the original on March 31, 2019
- "Sam Esmail on Creating 'Homecoming,' Working With Julia Roberts". Rolling Stone. November 2, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- Littleton, Cynthia (December 16, 2015). "Anonymous Content Thrives on TV Boom, 'Spotlight' and 'The Revenant' Awards Heat". Variety. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "The AFI Interview: 'Mr. Robot' Creator Sam Esmail". American Film Institute. December 1, 2015. Archived from the original on August 7, 2019. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
I was born to Egyptian parents in...Hoboken, New Jersey.
- "The Secret Early Lives of Sam Esmail | Without Fail". Gimlet. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Terry Gross (interviewer); Sam Esmail (interviewee) (October 30, 2019). 'Mr. Robot' Creator Says His Own Anxiety And Hacking Helped Inspire The Show (audio). NPR. Event occurs at 31:00–33:00. Retrieved November 5, 2019 – via NPR.com.
- "Samer Esmail on Instagram: "My 2 favorite people #bigbrothers @samesmail @kenosplit"". Instagram. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "Samer Esmail". IMDb. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Eells, Josh (July 7, 2016). "'Mr. Robot': Inside TV's Hacktivist Breakout Hit". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 24, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
I'm Egyptian, and my parents stupidly decided to move us down to South Carolina when I was five, which was pretty brutal. I got called 'sand nigger' all the time — to the point I didn't even know it was a slur. I just thought, 'That's who I am.'
- Terry Gross (interviewer); Sam Esmail (interviewee) (October 30, 2019). 'Mr. Robot' Creator Says His Own Anxiety And Hacking Helped Inspire The Show (audio). NPR. Event occurs at 05:00–16:40. Retrieved November 5, 2019 – via NPR.com.
- "Sam Esmail, Class of 1995". Classmates. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Hyman, Vicki (January 14, 2016). "N.J.'s Sam Esmail, 'Mr. Robot' Creator, on Season 2 — and Getting Beaten Up in High School". NJ.com (NJ Advance Media). Archived from the original on September 18, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
- "Full transcript: 'Mr. Robot' creator Sam Esmail on Recode Decode". Vox. November 19, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- New York University [@nyuniversity] (January 10, 2016). "WOOHOO!" (Tweet). Retrieved November 4, 2019 – via Twitter. "Director/exec producer Sam Esmail (Tisch ’98) & exec. producer Steve Golin (Tisch ’76) win Best Drama Golden Globe for Mr. Robot!"|
- "Alumni". tisch.nyu.edu. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Boboltz, Sara (August 1, 2015). "'Mr. Robot' Creator Also Thinks It's Weird That Things In The Show Keep Coming True". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- "Sam Esmail: Executive Producer". Mr. Robot official site (USA Network). Archived from the original on June 29, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "ABOUT AFI". Unnatural. January 23, 2017. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- "Sam Sam Esmell [sic] Offline Coordinator Credits". Staff Me Up. Archived from the original on January 11, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- "Sam Esmail Assistant Editor Credits". Staff Me Up. Archived from the original on January 11, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- "Sam Esmail Executive Producer credits". Staff Me Up. Archived from the original on January 11, 2020. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
- Terry Gross (interviewer); Sam Esmail (interviewee) (October 30, 2019). 'Mr. Robot' Creator Says His Own Anxiety And Hacking Helped Inspire The Show (audio). NPR. Event occurs at 25:25–31:00. Retrieved November 5, 2019 – via NPR.com.
- Lowry, Brian (April 26, 2010). "The Battle for Late Night". Variety. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- Hurwitz, Neal. "The AFI Interview: MR. ROBOT Creator Sam Esmail | American Film Institute". Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Tallerico, Brian. "Comet". Roger Ebert Film Reviews. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Barr, Merrill (June 24, 2015). "'Mr. Robot': Creator Sam Esmail On Transitioning The Show From Feature Film To Pilot And More". Forbes. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2015.
- "Showrunner Roundtable: 12 A-List Writers Dish About Lesbian Weddings, Race and Why "Black People Don't Get to Write for White People"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "Sam Esmail on 'Battlestar Galactica' and Life After 'Mr. Robot'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
- Andreeva, Nellie (July 14, 2014). "USA Network Orders Hacking Drama Pilot 'Mr. Robot'". Deadline. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Thomas, June (June 24, 2015). "Why the Hacker Drama Mr. Robot Needed a Gay Character". Slate. Archived from the original on October 12, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Esmail in sam Asi, Husam (October 12, 2015). Sam Esmael [sic] and Rami Malek talk Mr. Robot - Interview. BBC Xtra. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 8, 2019). "Sam Esmail Inks Massive New Overall Deal With Universal Content Productions". Deadline. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Seitz, Matt Zoller (November 14, 2018). "How Sam Esmail Directed the Hell Out of Homecoming". Vulture. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- "'Angelyne' Drama Based on Hollywood Reporter Article Joins NBCU's Streaming Slate". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "'Battlestar Galactica' Reboot From Sam Esmail in the Works at NBCU's Streamer". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "METROPOLIS". www.esmailcorp.com. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- McNary, Dave (July 21, 2017). "'Mr. Robot' Creator Sam Esmail to Write, Direct Bermuda Triangle Movie". Variety. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "FALSE ALARM". www.esmailcorp.com. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- "Universal Content Productions Launches Podcast Network With Sam Esmail Original". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- Thorne, Will (February 13, 2020). "UCP Developing Dark Comedy Series From Sam Esmail, 'Palm Springs' Writer". Variety. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
- Spangler, Todd (February 12, 2020). "Condé Nast Entertainment Shifting to Publication-Based Studio Structure for TV, Film Projects". Variety. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
- Crucchiola, Jordan (February 21, 2020). "Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer to Star in Slow Burn Podcast TV Adaptation". Vulture. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
- Andreeva, Nellie (September 29, 2020). "Sam Esmail Makes 2 Big Drama Sales To ABC – 'Acts Of Crime' With Production Commitment & CDC Project As Put Pilot". Deadline. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
- "AMERICAN RADICAL". www.esmailcorp.com. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Kroll, Justin (September 17, 2020). "Nazrin Choudhury Tapped To Pen 'American Radical' For Universal, Sam Esmail And Rami Malek". Deadline. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
- "Emmy Rossum Engaged to Mr. Robot Creator Sam Esmail". People. August 31, 2015. Archived from the original on March 23, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Miller, Gerri (February 5, 2015). "Hollywood Now: Mila Talks Parenthood & Breaking Bad's Saul Gets a Spinoff". InterfaithFamily. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2016.
- "Emmy Rossum Marries Mr. Robot Creator Sam Esmail — See Her Wedding Weekend Pics". PEOPLE.com.
- "Esmail Corp". www.esmailcorp.com. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Wiese, Christina (March 21, 2015). "2015 SXSW Film Audience Award Winners Announced". SXSW. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
- Cox, Gordon (November 30, 2015). "'Spotlight' Wins Big at 2015 Gotham Awards (FULL LIST)". Variety. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- Gray, Tim (December 16, 2015). "'Star Wars,' 'Mr. Robot' Among AFI Awards Honorees". Variety. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- "Satellite Awards (2015)". International Press Academy. December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
- Hipes, Patrick; Andreeva, Nellie (December 3, 2015). "WGA TV Nominations: 'Better Call Saul', 'Mr Robot', 'Kimmy Schmidt' Lead Cable & Streaming Domination". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (December 10, 2015). "Golden Globes: Outlander, Mr. Robot, Transparent and American Crime Lead Nominations; Gaga, Crazy Ex Get Nods". TVLine. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- Hipes, Patrick (December 14, 2015). "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'Mad Max' Leads Film; ABC, HBO, FX Networks & 'Fargo' Top TV". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
- "Mr. Robot". Emmys.com. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- Snierson, Dan (January 6, 2019). "Golden Globes 2019: See the full winners list". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
- Kilday, Gregg (January 8, 2019). "Dorian Awards: 'The Favourite' Named Film of the Year". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
- Crist, Allison (January 13, 2019). "Critics' Choice Awards: 'Roma,' 'Americans,' 'Mrs. Maisel' Top Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
- Peterson, Karen M. (November 29, 2018). "International Press Academy Announces Nominees for 23rd Annual Satellite Awards". Awards Circuit. Retrieved December 3, 2018.
- St. Clair, Matt (January 4, 2019). "'A Star Is Born,' 'Roma,' and 'Beale Street' Win Big at the Satellite Awards". Awards Circuit. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
- Goldberg, Lesley (June 19, 2019). "'Pose,' 'Russian Doll,' HBO Lead 2019 TV Critic Awards Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
- "Gold Derby TV Awards 2019 nominations: 'Game of Thrones' and 'Veep' lead, while 'Pose' is the top new show of the year". Gold Derby. July 24, 2019. Retrieved July 24, 2019.
- Hill, Libby (December 5, 2019). "Writers Guild Awards 2019: 'Watchmen,' 'PEN15' Among TV Nominees". Indiewire. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sam Esmail.|