This news is something I’ve had on my proverbial news desk for a while, but it got sidelined by all of this election malarkey. But I’m talking about it now–RAMI MALEK IS PLAYING FREDDIE MERCURY!
According to Deadline:
Bryan Singer is in talks to direct Bohemian Rhapsody, the long-in-the-works movie about the seminal British rock band Queen, with Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek playing frontman Freddie Mercury. The film is coming back together and is on the fast track at 20th Century Fox and New Regency with original producer Graham King and his GK Films.
Malek is the third actor listed to play Mercury for this particular project. First was Sacha Baron Cohen and later Ben Whishaw.
I’m excited for Malek to play Mercury. But first, let’s take two deep dives into Malek taking on the Mercury mantle:
1. Wasn’t Freddie Mercury Indian? Yes, Freddie Mercury’s family is from Gujarat (they later relocated to Zanzibar). Mercury’s family were Parsi, which is, as Wikipedia states, “one of two Zoroastrian communities…primarily located in South Asia.” Parsis migrated to Gujarat from Greater Iran, so there’s a crossover of Persian and Indian influence. While there are some Hollywood “all brown people are the same” tactics happening with Malek’s casting, at least this is closer to a semblance of respectful accuracy than Hollywood has been about big roles like these in the past. Remember, Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw were the first and second choices for this movie. At least Malek is brown.
(To say it again, the key word here is CLOSER. Regardless of Malek’s and Mercury’s backgrounds, they actually cast a brown person to play a brown person. In Hollywood, when the lowest threshold has been cleared, that’s a win.)
2. Will Malek be able to truly inhabit Freddie Mercury? We originally didn’t know how Heath Ledger would be as the Joker, and he’s possibly the best Joker since Jack Nicholson, so folks shouldn’t sweat Malek’s performance in this film. I’m personally not worried at all about Malek’s ability to take on this role; he’s killed it every week on Mr. Robot. He’s killed in his movies, including A Night at the Museum. So let’s cut the guy, the first non-white Golden Globe winner for Best Actor in a Drama, some slack. He’s a fine actor.
As far as his singing ability, or should I say “singing” ability, the film’s creative team can always get someone to sing for him. That’s what happens in films all the time. If you’ve seen a Bollywood movie, nine times out of 10, the actors aren’t actually singing.
I think he’ll be able to act like he’s singing just fine, especially if he pulls a Deborah Kerr; for her role in 1956’s The King and I, she practiced singing despite the fact that she can’t actually sing. Since she knew she’d have Hollywood background singer Marni Nixon doing her vocals, she still wanted to appear as if she was singing; she didn’t want there to be a clear visual of her just opening and closing her mouth like a puppet. Basically, this bit of movie history is just to say that we know Rami Malek can’t sing already (or so we think); we just have to suspend our disbelief, and I think he’s talented enough to make us do that.
I’m ready to see what Malek’s going to do. What do you think? Give your opinions in the comments section below!