Rami Malek didn't quite believe the producers' enthusiasm around his audition tape for the starring role in the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.
But after speaking with producer Graham King and officially signing on, Malek set about preparing for his most challenging role so far: playing one of the most uniquely talented and iconic musicians of the 20th century.
There was no shortage of details Malek had to nail to be a convincing Freddie — from the singer's iconic stage persona to the way he squirmed during interviews, to his role among his Queen bandmates as a "peacemaker," Malek certainly had his work cut out for him.
Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor spent time with Malek talking about the late singer, telling stories and offering observations about Freddie's character.
"It was a beautiful thing to get it from them in person and see how much they cared for him," Malek said of his sessions with May and Taylor, who conceived the film some 12 years ago and fought for years to get a studio to buy in and a script approved.
Malek says he worked with a movement coach to nail Freddie's dance moves. He spent time with a dialogue coach to lock in Freddie's accent. The actor was also fitted with prosthetic teeth to replicate Freddie's overbite and the resulting insecurity he had with his smile.
"If you watch an interview with him you see how often he's trying to cover up his teeth with his lips or his hand," Malek described.
While other actors, most notably Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Winshaw, had been linked to the role in years past, one thing the directors knew no thespian could recreate was Freddie's singing voice. Most of the singing scenes in the movie utilize Freddie's real vocals or those of a Canadian soundalike named Marc Martel.
Malek says he read every Queen book he could get his hands on and he watched every interview and documentary he could find. He was left with an intimate knowledge of the band's history and deep respect for Freddie's talent.
"His ability to unify people, no matter who they are, was so far ahead of its time," Malek said. "I can't think of anyone else that was capable of that."
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