One of the most exciting movies to come out in 2018 was the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, with the pitch-perfect Rami Malek in the lead role. The 37-year-old star has been burning up the awards circuit with nominations for Best Actor, including wins at BAFTA and the Golden Globes. It's clear he's not going far from Hollywood anytime soon, but where is Rami Malek from and what is his background? The Oscar nominee has a rich heritage through his immigrant parents.
The actor was born to Egyptian immigrant parents who moved to Los Angeles, his birthplace, in 1978, according to The Guardian. His father had been working as a travel agent in Cairo and became interested about life in the west through the tourists he interacted with, the publication reported. Malek’s mom wasn’t interested in leaving her home, but the idea of providing a different life for her three children eventually won out, the news outlet explained.
That didn’t mean acting was their dream for one of their children though, as Malek told NPR. “You know, obviously, like so many people, they would have loved for us to be doctors and lawyers," he told NPR in 2018. "My sister is a doctor, so she fulfilled that aspect. But it was very difficult to convince anyone that I wanted to do this and that I could do this.”
It was a high school drama teacher who told Malek that he had some talent in the arts, according to The New York Times, and put him on his current path. He attended the University of Evansville to earn a BFA, before moving to New York City to perform on the stage, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Still, success on the screen was hard-earned. It was a part in HBO miniseries The Pacific that really got the ball rolling, and led to his breakout role as Elliot Anderson in Mr. Robot.
Even with his success, he’s never left behind the people who gave him his real start: his parents. In a sweet moment he posted a photo of his mom as his date to the Golden Globes in 2016 with a touching caption. "So fortunate to have the most supportive woman in my life. Love you mom!!!" he wrote.
The actor also took his mom on the promotional tour for Bohemian Rhapsody, something she appreciated, as Malek told The New Yorker.
Malek won the part of Mercury after a five or six hour interview he was invited to by the producers, as he told NPR. The movie wasn’t even greenlit at that point, but he still began preparing for the role. He told Terry Gross on Fresh Air that he walked around London with a half-mic — the mic on top of a half length of mic stand — to really learn to embody Mercury’s iconic on-stage performance. “I just never wanted to lose focus of what I was doing, and that was a very constant reminder,” Malik told Gross.
His hard work paid off and his performance as Mercury is so seamless and engrossing, it’s hard to see where the Malik leaves off and Mercury begins.
Will the Academy agree? Tune in Feb. 24 on ABC to find out.