When Bohemian Rhapsody producers Graham King and Denis O’Sullivan chose Rami Malek to play Freddie Mercury, the Mr. Robot Emmy winner told them “you’ve got to give me time” in preparing for the part.
“Graham told me ‘Buddy, it’s taken me eight years, we got time’,” remembers Malek who was the finale session at today’s Deadline Contenders at New York City’s DGA Theatre.
And while Malek threw himself into watching and listening to all things Mercury, from concert footage to interviews, to working with a dialect coach and movement coach Polly Bennett, to speaking with band members Brian May and Roger Taylor; all prep led to the first day of shooting, and the first sequence which was shot first was the famed Live Aid 22-minute climax which is considered by many Queen authorities to be the apex in Mercury’s career. Editor John Ottman told us it was Bohemian Rhapsody‘s “Death Star” scene, and one which had to be handled just right or else the whole film would fall apart.
“I was somewhat prepared, but no one can ever prepare you for what that feeling was like,” says Malek about the first day of production on Bohemian Rhapsody, “what some consider the greatest performance in rock history, was a challenge. I said, ‘What the hell, they built the stage, let’s do this.'”
Day 1 entailed a massive wide crane shot of the crowd, coming around and having Malek perform “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the piano.
“It was suppose to be a rehearsal day, but everyone was in costume, so I was very suspicious,” said Malek to laughs from the NY Contenders crowd.
“I had a certain confidence from working on long shots on Mr. Robot that gave me the ability to calm down,” explains Malek, “It was sink or swim, a baptism by fire: Day 1 was ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, day 2 was ‘Radio Gaga’…”
However, throughout the entire Live Aid shoot there was a lot of starts and stops, which gave Malek some concern about recreating the magic Queen experienced on the day of the concert.
So he asked King for a favor: One more day of shooting the Live Aid concert, and the production would shoot the performance from start to finish with no stops.
“The entire concert in wide masters,” says Malek, “We brought in three cranes with cameras and ran the entire 22-minute set, it was the best take we ever did. You’re running on pure adrenaline. My heart is pounding just thinking about it (the experience).”
“You realize how much adrenaline was coursing through his veins before 75,000 people,” adds the actor.
“Really, I love acting,” said Malek before quipping “To add into this rock star feeling, it was like being on drugs.”
Bohemian Rhapsody from 20th Century Fox and New Regency is currently in theaters and set to cross the half billion mark at the global box office.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.