Of all the qualities you imagine an actor would need to play the role of Freddie Mercury, being able to sing, dance and play the piano sound like they’d be at or near the top of the list. And yet, Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek has revealed that when he took on the role, he possessed absolutely no musical talent whatsoever.
His casting and preparation for the part was outlined in a recent interview with Deadline, where he explained how he met with producer Graham King to discuss the role.
“We sat down for a six hour meeting and he’d really only seen me in Mr Robot, where I played this profoundly alienated, socially anxious human being who’s a pretty far cry from Freddie Mercury.[But] Graham saw something in me with Dennis O’Sullivan, and gave me a shot. I said, ‘listen, I’m not a singer. I don’t play the piano. I move in a very interesting way on a dancefloor – I don’t know if I’d call it rhythm! But somehow, I just said, ‘if I have the time, I can get there. If you help me out with the things I need.”
It sounds like he made a pretty convincing case that he had what it took, then, with Malek telling Deadline the following:
“[King] got me all the lessons to sing, the piano lessons, a movement coach, a dialect coach, teeth to wear a year in advance! And I got used to it.”
While reviews for Bohemian Rhapsody have been pretty lukewarm – which is about right, as the film’s as by-the-numbers a music biopic as you can get – everyone’s been praising Malek’s Mercury. In fact, the actor seems to have gotten so involved with the role that he says the movie could have gone much further in exploring Mercury’s sexuality and decadent lifestyle.
“I just kept pushing for more of that aspect of his life. I don’t know if we ever felt fulfilled by it.”
Personally, I’d love to see a film that was bold or smart enough to really understand what made Mercury tick and wasn’t afraid to show what he was really getting up to in those notoriously wild parties. However, Malek says he understands why Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t focus more on Queen’s frontman, reasoning that the film already had so much to cover in just telling the story of the band.
Still, you can’t deny that there remains a movie to be made about Freddie Mercury and I really hope someone makes it one day. Whoever stars in it though will certainly have a difficult job topping Malek’s performance.