Los Angeles — It was our first time to see Rami Malek again after his breakthrough and award-winning performance as Freddie Mercury in the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” where he received an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award among other accolades.
The 38-year-old actor, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California to Egyptian immigrant parents, became the first actor of Egyptian heritage to win the Academy Award for Best Actor and was heralded recently by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.
Always the ever humble and soft-spoken actor, Rami immediately spoke of his gratitude to us and the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for his first Golden Globe award. He said, “It was the first time I really got to know you. And there has been some very, very special moments in my life and culminating in this one and getting that award is something that is unforgettable and a moment that I will cherish always, so thank you.”
Rami, whom we first met as a shy newcomer being introduced as the actor to play computer hacker Elliot Alderson in the then new TV series “Mr. Robot” with Christian Slater, got emotional talking about the final season of the hit series.
He talked about what he would miss about playing Elliot. He replied, “When I first heard, I was disappointed. In fact, I called (creator-director-producer) Sam (Esmail) and I said is there any way we can extend this? I’m not joking. I got on the phone and he said you really love this, I got to love this, I love this character, I love working with you. And as much as I enjoy making films as well, this is an extraordinary thing that we got to do and the way that this television show was received, it really changed how we look at television these days and how we look at heroes in the world.
“What I love about him, what I have always loved about Elliot is he is this young man who for all intents and purposes, he should not be surviving in the world, let alone trying to save it and trying to save himself. He’s socially anxious in a debilitating way, he’s grieving, he is going to have discoveries in his life still in this last season that will be shocking to him and yet he still finds a way to look at the world and say I can help alter the way we see ourselves in this world, the voice we have in this world, how we identify as human beings, and how we are powerful even though sometimes we feel very small. Everywhere I go, even with ‘Bohemian’ and other projects, people, young people especially, seem to gravitate towards this character all over the world. That’s something I’ll miss, is that voice that he has, that underdog, true, gritty underdog story.”
He narrated, “I never thought I would be in this position. I always dreamed of just getting a job and when I first got ‘Mr. Robot’ that was a crowning achievement for me. Being able to portray that human being and tell that story with Christian (Slater) and of course with Sam (Esmail) and the rest of the cast, that was a trophy in and of itself. Instead of waiting for the last second to tell Sam how I felt over all these years, I wrote him yesterday and I told him I have been wanting to say this for a while, but this has been one of if not the most extraordinary experiences of my life. And to get to work with you, I can’t say it enough, someone who is a true leader, not only in your artistic endeavor, but how you conduct yourself on set and treat everyone of us and be someone who is a phenomenal writer and director, could be so impatient at times but he has been so nurturing and caring from day one. I really, really admire him and told him so. Having that relationship for me is the gift of a lifetime in a way, to have that bond with someone, and that is someone who I will work with in under any circumstances. I won’t even have to read the script to work with that guy, that’s how great I feel about him. So the things that come after that are just, it’s a blessed life that I have.”
And just when you thought the door is closing for Rami, another door opened – he is set to play the primary villain in the 25th James Bond film to be released in 2020.
We asked him to tell us more about that coveted role. Will the villain be Egyptian? “No, absolutely not,” he answered. “That’s another thing that I discussed with (director) Cary (Fukunaga), I said we cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion, that’s not something I would entertain. So if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out. And that was clearly not his vision.”
He explained that the villain of “007” is not a terrorist. “No, it is a different kind of terrorism,” he said. “I mean, I am not even going to get into that.”
Did he feel the weight of Bond on him?
“Yeah, I did,” he confessed. “I felt a weight, a substantial weight. Bond is something that we all grow up with to a degree and the one thing I had going for me is I said I played one beloved Brit in Freddie Mercury and I pulled that off, so I can possibly have a shot at playing the villain in a Bond film.”