Rami Malek is sweeping awards season with his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Malek has won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actor’s Guild award, and a BAFTA for the role. He is also currently a fan-favourite to win this year’s ‘Best Actor’ Oscar.
So, it may surprise some to realise that Rami Malek almost didn’t play Queen’s iconic front man.
Let’s take a look at who almost starred in Bohemian Rhapsody before Rami Malek won the part.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Plans for a Queen bio-pic were first announced in 2010 by the band’s guitarist, Brian May. Throughout these early years of production, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen was said to be playing front-man Freddie Mercury.
Unfortunately, Baron Cohen and the band disagreed about what kind of movie they were making. Baron Cohen hoped for a gritty tell-all about Mercury’s life. This was a problem for the band, who did not want to damage Freddie’s legacy. They wished to keep things PG, with a greater emphasis on the band as a whole.
These disagreements caused massive delays in the production of the film. In the end, Sacha Baron Cohen left the production in July 2013.
He was rumoured to have returned to the role in 2015, but this proved false.
Losing Baron Cohen was a blow to Bohemian Rhapsody. The lack of a star meant more delays.
Ben Whishaw was soon rumoured as a replacement for Baron-Cohen. The actor was officially cast as Freddie Mercury soon after.
Sadly, Whishaw’s casting coincided with the most troubled phase of the film’s pre-production. In 2014, Whishaw hinted that things were not going well. Filming had been delayed again due to issues with the script.
Whishaw hung on for another year, but when the film failed to take any meaningful steps forward, he decided to free himself up for other projects. He officially left Bohemian Rhapsody in 2015.
Rami Malek takes the stage
Following Whishaw’s departure, Bohemian Rhapsody was left without a leading man for over a year. Fortunately, this time was put to good use getting the script up to scratch.
In late 2016, Rami Malek was finally cast as Freddie Mercury, and Bohemian Rhapsody was rushed into production. Malek proved himself a great asset to the film. He did much of his own singing, and was willing to work closely with the surviving members of Queen.
The work has definitely paid off, as proven by the awards Malek has won so far.
We’ll see if he can add an Oscar to that list on February 25.