As one of the most in-demand talents in Hollywood, Oscar Isaac probably finds himself turning down a lot of offers that come his way. The overwhelming majority of actors and filmmakers would no doubt say publicly that regret isn’t a healthy part of the job, even if they end up saying no to something that ultimately yields massive success.
During an interview with ABC Audio, Isaac revealed that he passed on the lead role in Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which went on to land Rami Malek an Academy Award for Best Actor. On top of that, it’s also the highest-grossing movie in the history of either the biopic and drama genres after hauling in $904 million at the box office, landing a further three Oscars for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
At the time I was like, ‘I don’t think anybody wants to see somebody pretend to be Freddie Mercury.’ And then, sure enough, everybody wanted to see someone do Freddie Mercury. So that was one that came by. I think I could never have done what Rami Malek did, I just think he was; obviously everyone thought so, he was great. But that was a funny one where it was just my thinking was so like, ‘You could just watch him on YouTube. Why would anybody want to watch somebody pretend to do him, you know?'”
Embodying one of the modern era’s biggest and most enduring musical icons was a daunting task, and maybe Isaac is right in saying that he couldn’t have done what Malek did, although it may have helped that the Mr. Robot star was a much lesser-known name among general audiences than Star Wars‘ Poe Dameron, allowing him to disappear deeper into the part.
Then again, maybe there was a hint of retrospective envy on Isaac’s part after he said no to tackling a performance that saw Malek dominate the entirety of that year’s awards season, where he landed no less than nine variations on a Best Actor trophy.