Soul of a singer

Malek dug deep into his own life for Bo­hemian role


NEW YORK — Rami Malek says he iden­ti­fied with the im­mi­grant side of Fred­die Mer­cury while tack­ing the role of the leg­endary Queen front­man.

The first- gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­can spoke about his star­ring role at the New York pre­miere of Bo­hemian Rhap­sody on Tues­day. The Mr. Ro­bot star con­nected with Mer­cury’s out­sider pas­sion for suc­cess.

“I set out to be an ac­tor some, I don’t know, over a decade ago. I think some­thing was pos­si­bly burn­ing in­side the both of us. We had as­pi­ra­tions to live our dream. And I’m get­ting a chance to do that right now in this very mo­ment,” Malek said.

While many as­pects de­fined Mer­cury, in­clud­ing be­ing one of the best vo­cal­ists to front a rock band, his flam­boy­ant pres­ence and a pen­chant for tak­ing chances, Malek felt like he had to dig deeper to find the beat­ing heart of the Tan­za­nian- born Mer­cury, who ar­rived in Lon­don at 18.

“In some way he be­came the Fred­die Mer­cury su­per­star that over­came ev­ery ob­sta­cle imag­in­able to be the guy that we all know can com­mand the stage, and hold us in the palm of his hand like no other,” Malek said. “My fam­ily is from Egypt. I’m a first- gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­can. And some­how I thought there were strings that I could tether to­gether with him.”

Malek’s per­for­mance has more than im­pressed fans; it has im­pressed mem­bers of the band too. Cur­rent Queen lead singer Adam Lam­bert even feels the re­sem­blance be­tween the two is un­canny.

“I love the heart that he brings to the role, the sen­si­tiv­ity. I love that the mu­sic of this band af­fects peo­ple, in a way. And I know it first­hand, you know, be­ing on tour with them for the past six years,” Lam­bert said.

“You play one of th­ese hit songs and just watch­ing the au­di­ence light up and go through all their nos­tal­gia and all of their mem­o­ries that they’ve shared over this piece of mu­sic and they knew ev­ery word and they’re laugh­ing and they’re cry­ing and they’re danc­ing. That’s what you want, it re­ally unites peo­ple. So I think the film is go­ing to have that power as well,” Lam­bert said.

And Malek has also cap­ti­vated gui­tarist Brian May, who says the ac­tor’s per­for­mance, “sus­pends dis­be­lief.”

“You be­lieve he’s Fred­die,” May said.

Mike My­ers, known for head­bang­ing to Bo­hemian Rhap­sody in his own film Wayne’s World, has an ironic cameo play­ing a record ex­ec­u­tive who tries to tell the band no­body will play the song on the ra­dio.

“I spent so hard fight­ing to get Bo­hemian Rhap­sody into Wayne’s World,” My­ers said, “that I thought there was un­be­liev­able irony, and such a crazy hon­our.”


Rami Malek.

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