The Queen biopic is released in UK cinemas today (October 24). It stars Malek as Mercury and chronicles the 15-year period between Queen’s formation as a band and their famous performance at Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985.
A teaser trailer released back in May came under fire from writer and producer Bryan Fuller for not paying mind to Mercury’s bisexuality.
“Anyone else mildly annoyed (enough to tweet about it) that the #BohemianRapsody (sic) trailer features gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men?,” he wrote on Twitter, spurring on echoes of more criticism from fans and followers.
Now, in a new interview with Into, Malek is asked whether he sees Mercury as a gay icon.
Malek hesitates before responding, “What’s really great about him is he never wanted to, or thought of himself as being boxed into anything.
“He just was. I’ve heard him say, when asked, he says ‘I’m just me.” If he’s an icon to one there’s no reason that it requires another adjective.” See Malek’s confusing response in full below.
Fans have reacted to the actor’s answer, with some hailing him for ‘respecting Freddie’s choice’ while others have criticised Malek’s confusing response. See some of those reactions below.
i legit want to beat all your asses for saying that rami malek is homophobic bc he doesn't want to call freddie mercury a gay icon bc he doesn't want to put him in the box,when the man HIMSELF didn't want to be put in a box neither,he's LITTERALLY just respecting freddie's choice
— . (@ramsmaIek) October 23, 2018
you all calling rami malek homophobic when he’s literally kissing men throughout boh rhap honestly get a fucking grip
— charlie (@kaIuuyas) October 23, 2018
interviewer: is freddie mercury gay???
rami malek: why would you ask me, rami malek, this
— mavi (@saoirsesonan) October 23, 2018
yeah i agree. people were getting mad at rami malek for saying he doesn’t think freddie was a gay icon, he was just an icon because he never labeled himself and idk why people are getting mad at him??? he’s right???
— hope (@natsportmns) October 24, 2018
Me, after watching Rami Malek say he doesn’t see Freddie Mercury as a gay icon
— Brother Nyght (@wondermann5) October 23, 2018
like sure he couldve worded it better but what do u expect hes straight and yall put him on the spot its not like he talks about this all the time and he didnt say anything offensive
— ??♂️ (@deltorowarrior) October 24, 2018
Earlier this week, Lucy Boynton, who plays Mercury’s long-time friend and former fiancée Mary Austin, responded to claims that the biopic ‘straightwashes’ Freddie Mercury.
Speaking of the criticisms, she described them as “frustrating,” especially as they were sparked by “a 60 second teaser which is supposed to tease basically nothing”.
“It’s when people want to have something to criticise that is kind of jarring, especially because it does and the one thing that we’re so proud of with this film is that I don’t feel it ever steps over the line into any kind of expose or intrusiveness,” she said.
“I don’t know what people wanted to see in terms of… they always ask about the darkness of Freddie and such and it’s like, it’s a celebration and ode to [him].”