“I was very cognizant of not wanting to imitate him or impersonate him at all.” – Rami Malek
Freddie Mercury is a rock and roll icon and any actor playing him would have to reckon with the Queen singer’s gigantic stature in the pantheon of music legends. It was a challenge Mr. Robot star Rami Malek was nervous about, but he stepped up to perform as Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Malek spoke to the Belfast Telegraph on how playing Mercury “terrified” him at first — but later gave him the courage to stand up for his fellow cast members in a difficult situation.
Malek ended up in the role after earlier Mercury biopic projects with Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw did not work out. Malek was apprehensive about taking on the role — but knew that he couldn’t turn it down. He explains, “Every part of me was terrified. But then, what are you going to do? It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t pass it up.”
Playing one of the most famous rock stars of all time, Malek had to be able to remind audiences of Mercury’s larger-than-life persona without simply pretending to be him. He says, “I was very cognizant of not wanting to imitate him or impersonate him at all. I started to think about how everything he did was spontaneous, in the moment. He is someone who lived every moment as if it was his last, I feel. I think that’s what makes him so gorgeous. He’s so authentic, and I wanted to be that authentic on stage, so I tried never to just copy his moves. I wanted them to spring from me as if they were happening to him.”
As was reported during production, original Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer was replaced after alleged difficult behavior, including clashing with Malek and the rest of the cast. Though Malek has yet to comment on the allegations specifically, he did address Singer’s departure and his role in it, saying, “I wanted to go to work with the highest level of functioning capability I could. And so we all raised our games, day in and day out. And I appreciated taking a leadership responsibility, because that’s what Freddie would have done.”