Sam Esmail

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Sam Esmail
Sam Esmail at SXSW 2016.jpg
Sam Esmail at SXSW 2016
Born (1977-09-17) September 17, 1977 (age 41)[1][2]
Alma materTisch School of the Arts
AFI Conservatory
OccupationDirector, producer, writer
Years active2002–present
Emmy Rossum (m. 2017)

Sam Esmail (Egyptian Arabic: سام إسماعيل, born September 17, 1977) is an American screenwriter, film and television director and producer.[3] He is best known as the writer and director of the television series Mr. Robot (2015–2019), starring Rami Malek. He directed the psychological thriller Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts, which premiered on Amazon Video in November 2018.[4]

Early life[edit]

Esmail was born in 1977 to an Egyptian family in Hoboken, New Jersey.[5][6] His family is Muslim.[7] His family later moved to 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."[8] [9] The family eventually moved back to Sewell, New Jersey, in Gloucester County's Washington Township.[9]

Esmail acquired his first computer when he was nine and began writing his own code a few years later.[8] While attending New York University, he worked in its computer lab before being put on academic probation for an incident there.[10] After graduating from that college's Tisch School of the Arts, Esmail pursued a Master of Fine Arts degree from the AFI Conservatory.[11]


In 2008, Esmail's first feature film screenplay, Sequels, Remakes & Adaptations, landed on the Black List, a yearly survey of over 600 production companies and film executives of the "most liked" motion picture screenplays not yet produced.[11] In 2014, his feature-length directorial debut, Comet was released by IFC Films.[12]

He is the creator, executive producer and head writer of the technological thriller television series Mr. Robot, which premiered on USA Network on June 24, 2015.[13] Esmail originally envisioned the project as a feature film.[10][14] His lead character was played by Rami Malek, also born in the US to Egyptian immigrants and raised here, who won an Emmy for Best Actor in 2015.

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."[15]

Esmail received strong reviews for his direction of the Amazon Video series Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and Bobby Cannavale, which premiered in November 2018.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In August 2015, Esmail became engaged to actress Emmy Rossum after dating for two years.[17] He had directed her in his directorial debut, Comet.[18] She is Jewish and they were married on May 28, 2017, at a Reform synagogue in New York City.[19]



Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2002 The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special Yes Short film
2004 Deep Down in Florida Yes Short film
2014 Comet Yes Yes
Mockingbird Yes Story by
2016 Risk Executive Documentary


Year Title Credited as Notes
Writer Director Executive producer
2008–2009 HBO First Look Post-production coordinator (3 episodes)
2010 The Battle for Late Night Post-production supervisor (Documentary)
2015–2019 Mr. Robot Yes Yes Yes Creator; writer (17 episodes), director (25 episodes)
2018–present Homecoming Yes Yes Executive producer; director (10 episodes)


Year Ceremony Category Nominated Work Result
2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Best Narrative Feature Comet Nominated
2015 2015 SXSW Film Audience Award[20] Audience Award for Best Episodic Mr. Robot Won
25th Gotham Independent Film Awards[21] Breakthrough Series – Long Form Won
2015 American Film Institute Awards[22] Television Programs of the Year Won
2016 20th Satellite Awards[23] Best Drama Series Nominated
2016 Writers Guild Awards[24] Best Drama Series Nominated
Best New Series Won
73rd Golden Globe Awards[25] Best Television Series – Drama Won
6th Critics' Choice Television Awards[26] Best Drama Series Won
68th Primetime Emmy Awards[27] Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated


  1. ^ Rossum, Emmy (September 17, 2017). "Happy birthday, @samesmail". Emmy Rossum verified Instagram account. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Gravitter, Kaya (October 1, 2016). "This Is How The Producer of Mr. Robot Is Changing The Face of Hollywood". Archived from the original on September 18, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Interview with Sam Esmail, 'Mr. Robot' Creator
  4. ^ Stone, Rolling (November 2, 2018). "Sam Esmail on Creating 'Homecoming,' Working With Julia Roberts". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  5. ^ Stanhope, Kate (March 3, 2016). "'Mr. Robot' Creator on the Sony Hack, Antiheroes and the Dangers of Facebook". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  6. ^ "Exclusive: Emmy Rossum is dating her 'Comet' director Sam Esmail". New York Post. August 14, 2013. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 1, 2013.
  7. ^ "'Mr. Robot': Inside TV's Hacktivist Breakout Hit".
  8. ^ a b 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.'
  9. ^ a b Hyman, Vicki (January 14, 2016). "N.J.'s Sam Esmail, 'Mr. Robot' Creator, on Season 2 — and Getting Beaten Up in High School". (NJ Advance Media). Archived from the original on September 18, 2017. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  10. ^ a b 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.
  11. ^ a b "Sam Esmail: Executive Producer". Mr. Robot official site (USA Network). Archived from the original on June 29, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  12. ^ Tallerico, Brian. "Comet". Roger Ebert Film Reviews. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Esmail in sam Asi, Husam (October 12, 2015). Sam Esmael [sic] and Rami Malek talk Mr. Robot - Interview. BBC Xtra. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  16. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (November 14, 2018). "How Sam Esmail Directed the Hell Out of Homecoming". Vulture. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Cox, Gordon (November 30, 2015). "'Spotlight' Wins Big at 2015 Gotham Awards (FULL LIST)". Variety. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  22. ^ Gray, Tim (December 16, 2015). "'Star Wars,' 'Mr. Robot' Among AFI Awards Honorees". Variety. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  23. ^ "Satellite Awards (2015)". International Press Academy. December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "Mr. Robot". Retrieved July 14, 2016.

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