If there’s one genre that’s proven tried and true around Awards Season, its biopics. Seeing a real life story told through the magic of movies has been a winning combination for films like Walk The Line and The King’s Speech, and the latest blockbuster of this sort is Bryan Singer’s Freddie Mercury movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Telling the life of both Mercury and Queen itself, Bohemian Rhapsody has made a ton of money at the box office, with no signs of slowing down.
The original members of Queen are all major characters in the new movie, although Freddie Mercury takes most of the film’s focus. Mr. Robot standout Rami Malek plays Mercury, but what do the members of Queen think of his performance? Quite a few of them have spoken out since Bohemian Rhapsody hit theaters, and they seem to be pleased with Malek’s take on the late singer.
Guitarist Brian May was played by Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody, and recently opened up about Rami Malek’s performance as his former band mate and friend. According to May, both he and drummer Roger Taylor could really see Freddie Mercury in Malek. As he tells it,
We kind of saw Freddie in him and we could sense Rami’s passion. The first time we saw him was actually in Roger’s flat. It must have been horrible for him, having us watching him for the first time. But we were really blown away by him and his ability to perform— he’s incredible.
Well, that’s pretty high praise. Rami Malek had to audition and get approval from the members of Queen, so he was literally seeking the band’s approval at one point. Luckily, Brian May seemed to think he had the stuff, and saw the raw passion and talent that Freddie Mercury had during his life.
Aside from the actual audition, Brian May also praised Rami Malek’s ability to inhabit the many sides of Freddie Mercury. In his same conversation with Arab News, May expanded his thoughts, saying:
I love the way that Rami has captured not only Freddie’s great power and ebullience, but also his sensitive, vulnerable side, of which there was a lot. You know, he came from very small, humble beginnings, as you see in the film.
While Roger Taylor wasn’t quite as eloquent and quotable as his bandmate Brian May, the Queen drummer did seem to agree with the assessment. A simple “Well done, Rami!” was what he added in their joint interview, which is enough praise to convince some of the naysayers out there. Bohemian Rhapsody had some controversy surrounding it before the release, so the approval of the original Band is a major step forward.
Of course, Rami Malek isn’t the only contemporary star who has had to win over the generations of Queen fans out there. American Idol alum Adam Lambert joined the group a few years ago, singing Freddie Mercury’s part to bring the band’s former glory to life. He’s got the never ending vocal rage of Mercury, so what did he think of Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody?
Adam Lambert spoke to ET about that subject, praising the sensitive way Rami Malek approached Freddie Mercury’s story. As he told it:
[I’ve] met him a couple times now. He’s great. He’s really good in the film too, very sensitive portrayal.
When Bohemian Rhapsody was first announced, there were some fans that were disappointed Adam Lambert wasn’t asked to play Freddie. He knows the band and music well, and knows how to perform all of the classic Queen hits. Given Lambert’s previous acting experience Fox’s in Rocky Horror Picture Show and Glee, it’s not like he’d be uncomfortable on camera. But Lambert explained he wasn’t right for the part, saying:
I don’t look like Freddie. I don’t sound like Freddie. I sound like me. Rami looks amazing. He’s a great actor. From what I understand, they used pieces of actual studio recording of Freddie and Marc Martel, who is an impersonator of Freddie Mercury, to do some of the other vocal stuff. So it’s really about recreating Freddie. So no, it wouldn’t have been me.
Well, that puts that to bed. Adam Lambert didn’t have an interest in playing Freddie Mercury, and seems to be throwing Rami Malek his full approval.
Rami Malek actively sought the approval of Brian May and Roger Taylor, bonding over drinks and maintaining a personal relationship. But they also made him stand there while they watched his audition tape, which was no doubt a nerve-wracking experience. But according to Malek, they were very happy with his portrayal. As the actor told The Daily Mail,
But Brian May was really sweet. I think he was taken aback. He used the word ‘uncanny.’
That’s pretty much the goal, no? The pressure of doing a biopic is accurately portraying the real-life figures involved. Brian May and Roger Taylor truly know what Freddie Mercury was like, so that stamp of approval must have been a relief for Rami Malek. It certainly was a winning combination for moviegoers.
Bohemian Rhapsody has had an interesting journey to theaters. Bryan Singer dropped out of the project before it was completed, although he’s still credited as the director. There was also controversy surrounding the portrayal of Freddie Mercury’s sexuality ahead of its release, with advocates claiming it didn’t focus on his romantic relationships with men. Still, the myriad controversies and mediocre critical reception didn’t stop the movie from making a ton at the box office.
Bohemian Rhapsody is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trips to the movies.