When Rami Malek took on the role of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury for the upcoming biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, he first thought he would be a champion. He then worried that his career may bite the dust.
“When I got this role, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this could be a career defining performance,’ ” he told an audience at Cinemacon in Las Vegas on Thursday. “And about two minutes later I thought this could be a career killer.”
The Mr. Robot star, 36, wasn’t kidding either, adding, “You don’t get this right and it’s trouble.”
Attendees at the annual theater owner convention got an extended preview of Bohemian Rhapsody during the 20th Century Fox presentation.
The movie chronicles Queen from 1970, when Mercury teamed with Brian May and Roger Taylor, until the band’s performance at Live Aid in 1985, six years before the singer died of complications from AIDS.
Malik said he felt good about his performance, but stopped short of giving himself too much credit. To become the iconic Mercury, the actor said he studied the late Queen frontman’s every move and tried to think like him and emulate him.
“I think the biggest task was how do I approach this insurmountable task,” he said. “What it was for me is just, as an actor, you look at the humanity of someone, the struggles that he overcame in his life, and throughout the film you’ll learn so much about him. What he does in his music is he gives everyone watching this ability to embrace all of their imperfections and still sing as loudly as they can.”
Producer Graham King said that before Mercury died in 1991, one of his dying wishes was for the band to continue on.
“Freddie Mercury invented playing to the masses,” King said “I believe this film does the same. Let’s face it, to this day, every sporting event, countless commercials and films, pubs and bars all over the world play Queen’s music relentlessly.”
Malek thinks Queen’s legacy lives on because of great music, but also because of its legendary frontman.
“Learning about him, he is, without a doubt in my mind, the greatest performer that has existed,” Malek said.
The movie opens November 2.