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How Rami Malek became Freddie Mercury in Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody

A version of this story appears in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday. Buy it or subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

How do you prepare to play one of the most famous (and famously enigmatic) performers in history? For Rami Malek, and his upcoming role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, you remember that underneath all the pomp and circumstance of Queen’s frontman was an individual coming to terms with himself.

“I would consistently go back to his interviews and performances just to understand the [different] sides of him,” the Mr. Robot star says. “Obviously, there is a very brave, brash entertainer who hits the stage. And then there is a human being who can be reclusive and lonely behind closed doors. It was a challenge just to correlate who this person was — someone who had grown up in Zanzibar and got shipped off to school in Bombay, and upon his return to Zanzibar, fled a revolution with his family and went to London. That type of childhood is emblematic of someone who is starving for identity.”

That duality gave the 37-year-old actor a pathway to capturing the late singer’s magnetism. Malek was so committed to the role that he even flew to London on his own dime to do research before the film had funding. There he immersed himself in all things Freddie, reading biographies, watching old videos, and speaking with Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May, who were on board with the film early in development. “They gave us creative freedom,” says producer Graham King of Mercury’s bandmates. “I wanted to

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