Most critics and movie reviewers have been blown away by Rami Malek’s performance for playing the role of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. And Rami MAlek is so attached to the role he played that he said he continues to study Freddie Mercury even though they completed the movie months ago. There’s also rumours that might be nominated for an Oscar.
The movie is also in the running of becoming the biggest music biopic of all time earning more than $100 million in the U.S. and a take approaching $300 million worldwide. Queen’s top charting hits were famous back then and after the movie have become the highest album chart placing in 38 years.
“You see [Mercury] onstage and then almost instinctually I’d want to discover more,” Malek told Who in a new interview, saying he’d read letters the singer had written from boarding school as a boy. “There’s just an eloquence and elegance to him that you see when he’s on stage, and then you can [see] where all that was birthed from.”
He noted that “not many artists are wearing an entire head-to-toe leather outfit, sipping a champagne flute and telling their audience to strip naked if they please. And he still comes off with this essence of royalty.”
Producer Graham King recalled that, on their first meeting, he and Malek spent four or five hours just talking about Mercury. “I don’t stop,” Malek noted. “I re-read one of the biographies the other day just to see, ‘Did I miss anything?”
Admitting he wished “we could delve deeper” into Mercury’s relationships with men, he added, “I just kept pushing for more of that aspect of his life. I don’t know if we ever felt fulfilled by it.”
“There’s just something quite unsettled about him,” says Malek.
“He has such a compassionate side, and he longs for the sense of community and love and companionship… but there’s a sense of distance there, somehow.”
Because of his untimely death of Aids-related pneumonia in 1991, there are no memoirs to give a glimpse of his innermost thoughts. “I kept searching for ways into the man and then I realised, he left us a diary and it’s in all of the songs,” says Malek. Two of the most revealing were Lily Of The Valley and You Take My Breath Away – both of which are quieter and more contemplative than the bullet-proof confidence of Don’t Stop Me Now or Another One Bites The Dust.
“Trust me, I pushed for those songs to be in the movie, because they informed so much of Freddie to me,” he says. “But no-one’s singing those ones at karaoke.” “It’s not a documentary,” stresses Malek, “and we take liberties with the chronology because we have two hours to tell the story. “It was tricky at some points. We thought, ‘Are we going to show him in Zanzibar as a child? Will we show him in St Peter’s boarding school?’ And those are things that we shot but we realised we have a finite amount of time. “So we chose to focus on this period from the early 70s to 1985.
The agenda was to celebrate this human being.” No-one can question Malek’s commitment to the role. He auditioned for six hours, long before the film was financed; and spent hours studying shaky, fan-shot Queen videos to pick up Mercury’s mannerisms and stage patter.
Rami’s dedication and passion wasn’t just in words, to become Freddie Mercury he flew to London for singing and piano lessons and worked with a dialect coach and choreographer Polly Bennett who had encouraged him to watch Mercury’s inspirations – Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and, especially, Liza Minelli in Cabaret. Malek also had to get himself some new teeth… As the film explains, Mercury was born with four extra incisors, which pushed his upper teeth into an extreme overbite but also, he believed, gave his voice extra resonance.
The actor got his false teeth made months in advance of the film shoot, wearing them between takes on his TV series Mr Robot to make sure he didn’t lisp or slur on the set of Bohemian Rhapsody.