Bohemian Rhapsody is a box office (nearly $500 million on a $50 million budget), but a critical flop. Among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes, the Queen biopic is rocking an underwhelming 50 percent “Fresh” rating; when I, a non-top critic, was watching, I kept thinking of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, except Walk Hard was supposed to be funny. (Was there a bloody tissue to show that Freddie was sick? You bet!) Still, there’s one thing both Bohemian defenders and haters can agree on: Rami Malek is electric as the Queen frontman.
There was a lot of pressure on the Mr. Robot star to get it right, too. Bohemian Rhapsody was in production for years before it got made, and to prepare for the role, Malek actually met Mercury’s sister… while dressed as Mercury. “I met his sister. She got to see me as a young Freddie with long hair and the teeth, make-up, the whole 1970s, early glam-rock look,” he told Jimmy Kimmel back in September. “As you can imagine it was an incredibly bizarre, alien moment for her… Later on, it was a very emotional moment. On a serious note, she wrote me the most moving email. It was very powerful. To get that vote of appreciation from the people who were closest to him was everything for me.”
Malek also received support from Queen guitarist Brian May (portrayed in the film by Gwilym Lee), who thinks the actor deserves an Oscar nomination. “He’s incredible,” he said. “Without doubt, he’ll be on the nominations list for an Oscar… He inhabited Freddie to the point where we even started to think of him as Freddie. Really remarkable.” May added that although Bohemian Rhapsody came out to “shitty reviews,” the public has “embraced it magnificently.”
Malek has 6/1 odds to win Best Actor at the Oscars, behind Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Christian Bale (Vice), and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book). That’s solid competition, but who knows, maybe he’ll be the champion, my friends.