Malek’s portrayal of the late frontman has generally earned acclaim, but there have been some complaints about the depiction of Mercury in the film. Back in May, the producers of the film were accused of ‘straightwashing’ Mercury, while Sacha Baron Cohen – who initially was in line to portray the frontman – was intent on delivering an “outrageous” portrayal which showed more of the icon’s private life.
Speaking in a new interview with Who, Malek said that he “instinctually [wanted] to discover more” about Mercury as soon as he starting preparing for the role.
“There’s just an eloquence and elegance to him that you see when he’s on stage, and then you can [see] where all that was birthed from,” Malek said about what he learned about Mercury from reading about his early life. “I mean, not many artists are wearing an entire head-to-toe leather outfit, sipping a champagne flute and telling their audience to strip naked if they please. And he still comes off with this essence of royalty.”
Later in the interview, Malek – who the publication notes “is proud of how the film depicts the singer’s journey” – is quoted as saying that he wishes “we could delve deeper” into Mercury’s life, particularly in regards to his relationships with men – such as his long-term partner Jim Hutton.
“I just kept pushing for more of that aspect of his life,” Malek recalled. “I don’t know if we ever felt fulfilled by it.” As the publication notes, much of the film focuses on both Queen’s early days and their commercial peak, as well as Mercury’s first relationship with “the love of his life” Mary Austin (played by Lucy Boynton) – to whom he comes out as bisexual in the film.
Malek also revealed that a major entry point to “unlocking” Mercury was achieved for him by writing down all of the singer’s lyrics and then reading them through on a regular basis.
“If you listen to [the song] “Lily of the Valley”, it opens, ‘I am forever searching high and low, but why does everybody tell me no?’,” Malek said. “I thought, ‘Are you stupid, Rami? A guy who’s pouring his soul out to you right here. He’s written you his diary’.”
A new interview with Malek’s movement coach for Bohemian Rhapsody, meanwhile, has helped shed light on how the actor was able to vividly portray Mercury on screen.