As you can see from the watermark, the image was first released on what would have been Mercury’s 71st birthday through Entertainment Weekly, and while we still haven’t heard Malek’s vocals (if you’ve been listening to him speak about the film on the late night talk show circuit, you’ll know that he has had to record himself singing for the members of Queen themselves), I’m almost past caring about that now that we’ve seen this picture of him in full the Freddie Mercury regalia.
— Rami Malek (@ItsRamiMalek) September 5, 2017
Malek mentioned his vocals in a quick interview he did with Entertainment Weekly, saying that the film will use parts of his own voice as well as Mercury’s voice coupled with a sound-alike to fill in any missing spots.
“We’re going to use Freddie as much as possible and use myself as much as possible,” said Malek. “I’m in Abbey Road [Studios] right now if that should say anything to you. I’m not working on my acting.”
As for sound-alikes, this sounds like a job UK singer Mika, who was tailor-made for this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were actually using him in this film. He even references Mercury in his 2009 breakout song Grace Kelly. If director Bryan Singer isn’t using him–WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE, SINGER?! Put ME on your team to help you make these decisions!
As far as the look goes, Malek said the first time he finally saw himself-as-Mercury staring back at him in the mirror, it brought everything into focus.
“When you’re able to open your eyes and see a different person staring back at you in the mirror, it’s a very affirming moment,” he said, adding that the experience of being in hair and makeup to become Mercury”only adds to the level of confidence that one would need to play Freddie Mercury.”
As reported in 2016, Malek is perfect casting as Mercury, not only because of his resemblance to the late singer or his massive acting talent (which I’m glad has finally been recognized through Mr. Robot), but because casting Malek as Mercury is actually quite respectful casting coming from Hollywood, since Mercury was Parsi, an Indian community that has its roots in Iran, and Malek is of Middle Eastern background (Malek isn’t Iranian or of the Parsi community, though; he’s from a Coptic Egyptian background). While it’s not a Parsi actor playing Mercury, it’s better than the whitewashed alternatives that were out there and for Hollywood, this is a baby step towards better casting practices as a whole. At least that’s how I see it, if I’m looking at it from an optimistic perspective. As I stated back then:
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.
Check out the Entertainment Weekly video below for more info. Bohemian Rhapsody comes to theaters Christmas day, 2018 (such a long time away!!!)