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While Bohemian Rhapsody received mixed reviews as a film, most have praised Rami Malek's performance for the way he seemingly transformed into Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. The actor has spoken at length about the way he watched a lot of Mercury in an attempt to learn how to move and how to speak like the eccentric performer, but it turns out that becoming Freddie Mercury also included a serious diet and exercise routine in order to both physically look like the man, as well as have the ability to perform in the way that he did. According to Malek...
I didn't really want to bulk up, per se --- I just wanted to get my body into a place where I could do a 22-minute concert over and over for five days and not be out of breath. Well, it's highly impossible to do that. There were days when I found myself laying on my back trying to just absorb as much air as possible. But at the same time, I was on a very specific diet. I bulked up for that first week and immediately had to drop muscle and weight and go into shooting young Freddie, who is very scrawny. I just had to be really cognizant of when to work out and when to crash diet. I don't recommend it for anyone.
Getting in the right physical shape for a role is important. It's frequently a key part of action movies, but in the case of Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek needed to be in shape so that he could perform like Freddie Mercury. The singer was an energetic and enthusiastic performance, and Malek had to be able to look the same way, without wearing himself out.
Shifting between heavy workouts and crash diets certainly doesn't seem like fun and Rami Malek confirms this. Being a lead actor in a major Hollywood movie is probably a lot of fun most of the time. And sometimes it sounds like it completely sucks. Crash diets aren't healthy and nobody recommends that people try them, but when you're under the constraints of a multimillion dollar movie schedule, there's little else that can be done.
Ultimately, as Rami Malek says, the goal wasn't so much muscle as it was energy. Bohemian Rhapsody culminates in an epic finale which recreates the band's famous 1985 Live Aid performance almost in its entirety. Malek had also confirmed that some takes were done as a single long performance, which meant Malek had to be able to put on a concert without wearing out. He did succeed, as the Live Aid sequence is the highlight of the movie.