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Rami Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody is by far the highlight of the film. Even those the critics that have were largely unimpressed with the film as a whole had a tendency to praise the actor's transformation into the Queen frontman. However, it turns out, unsurprisingly, that getting there wasn't easy as the result made it look. Rami Malek spent a year learning everything he needed to know in order to become Freddie Mercury. Malek says he worked with the film's producer Graham King on more technical skills, but he also spent time learning how to project the attitude that Mercury was known for. According to the actor...
I asked Graham for singing lessons, piano lessons. And what I really knew I needed was to capture his spontaneity. The man's not choreographed. Every time he steps out onto a stage, no one knows what he's going to do, and that's what I knew I needed to tether myself to. In order to do that, I realized, I can't work with a choreographer, I need someone to help me with movement, someone to help me discover the impetus for why he does what he does. Why every flick of the wrist occurs with him in such an elegant, sometimes dainty and sometimes aggressive way, depending on his mood. I just had to find his humanity --- what his conflicts were --- and discover all the sides of him, because I knew there was more to Freddie Mercury than a man who holds an audience in the palm of his hand. But I had to get that down as well.
Actors frequently need to spend a lot of time in pre-production working with various specialists in order to gain the skills necessary for a role. In action movies, an actor may need to learn to fight or use particular weapons properly. If you're going to play Freddie Mercury, you need to be able to look like you know what you're doing when you sit down in front of a piano.
Of course, what might be more interesting than the lessons that Rami Malek took in order to learn some of Freddie Mercury's skills might be the specialist that he decided not to hire. Malek tells THR that he actively chose not to bring in a choreographer to help him with moving like Freddie Mercury because such a thing would not help get the proper performance. He felt Mercury's movements were much more spontaneous than that, and so in order to do the role justice, he had to figure out how to do that himself.
While Rami Malek doesn't go into detail on exactly what he did in order to make it all work, it does seem quite clear that it did. Rami Malek absolutely transformed into Freddie Mercury for Bohemian Rhapsody. It's certainly true that nothing we see Malek do, even while performing on stage, looks like it was choreographed. The presence and attitude that Mercury had come through even when the character is just standing there.
Some think the performance is so good that Rami Malek deserves an Oscar nomination for it, and while that might be an uphill battle, it's certainly not outside the realm of plausibility. We'll find out when the Oscar nominations come out early next year.