What can I say that this picture can’t say for itself? Rami Malek is going to kill it as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
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!!!)
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!