The Road to Rhapsody: How Rami Malek Captured the World’s Heart
By Muhammed Aladdin
Ever since his role depicting the late legend Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek has been put under the world’s spotlight. The 37-year old actor just won a Golden Globe for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” for his role in the critically acclaimed “Bohemian Rhapsody”; the film has also won the Best Picture award.
From the date of release of the film, up until the Golden Globe win, the film has grossed over $740 million in box office revenues. What came as a surprise was the fact that it was competing with popular films like “A Star Is Born” and “Black Panther”.
The Egyptian-American actor was born in California to an Egyptian Coptic Orthodox family; his father was a tour guide in Cairo, while his mother was an accountant. A decade ago, when Malek was still an actor-in-the-making, he used to work part-time jobs delivering pizza and making Egyptian falafel sandwiches in restaurants in Hollywood just to make ends meet.
For a year and a half, the actor tried to get himself meetings with Hollywood casting directors despite not having an agent to represent him. He remembers getting depressed most of the time, as he never
“When you’re young, everything is very hit-and-miss, and it makes you very leery if it’s ever going to be stable,” Rami Malek stated in an interview to Empire magazine back in 2018. Nevertheless, just as everything seemed to be bleak, Malek landed his first TV role in 2004 on “Gilmore Girls”.
From there he then landed himself a role in the blockbuster Night at the Museum. He played the role of the Pharaoh who owned the magical tablet that made the artifacts come back to life at night. With Malek’s Egyptian descent, the role couldn’t be more befitting.
As his career kept on growing, he truly blossomed in 2015, when he became the star of “Mr. Robot”, a TV thriller about a troubled young hacker. The role was so inspiring and original that he won an Emmy as a top lead actor in a drama series.
While looking for an actor, Queen’s band members were extremely picky; they wanted someone who could give the performance of a lifetime. At first, Sasha Cohen was considered but they parted ways due to creative differences; it was then when Malek got picked for the part.
In “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Rami Malek plays the role of Freddie Mercury, the late lead vocalist of the classic Rock band, Queen. The film documents the life of one of the most renowned singers in history, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you are missing out.
The transition of Rami Malek’s character to depict Freddie Mercury has been a year-long, comprehensive process. You see, Freddie Mercury was one of those larger-than-life characters; every move, look, and word had something unique about it. It was all spontaneous, nothing mundane about it.
At first, Malek was surprised that he was being considered for the role after the departure of Cohen, since, in Mr. Robot, he played Elliot, a socially anxious alienated human being suffering from mental illness. On the other hand, Freddie Mercury is a flamboyant human being, but he reminded himself that this is Hollywood, anything could happen.
Upon finding out he got the role, Malek said, “I’ll be honest, immediately there was no reservation whatsoever. It was pure elation and euphoria. And then the reservations kicked in. What I knew I needed was time because you’re asking me to embody and encapsulate a human being who is, quite honestly, otherworldly. He is almost superhuman. He walks onstage with a cape and a crown, and he might as well be the Marvel character of rock stars,” Malek said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
Over the course of a year’s worth of preparations, Malek asked Graham King, the film’s Producer, for singing and piano lessons. The actor was trying to depict Mercury’s spontaneity. He needed help with his movement, but not from a choreographer, as the singer’s movements were never choreographed.
Malek also added, “I can’t work with a choreographer; I need someone to help me with movement, someone to help me discover the impetus for why he does what he does. Why every flick of the wrist occurs with him in such an elegant, sometimes dainty and sometimes aggressive way, depending on his mood. I just had to find his humanity; what his conflicts were, and discover all the sides of him. Because, I knew there was more to Freddie Mercury than a man who holds an audience in the palm of his hand, but I had to get that down as well.”
His humble beginnings along with his talent have shaped him into the star that we all love and adore today; Malek is now one of Hollywood’s A-list actors. His depiction of Mercury could win him an Academy Award nomination, which would be the first in his career. It is truly an amazing time in the life of this promising young man.