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Queen's Freddie Mercury was a frontman unlike any other, and thus, the biopic about the late singer, Bohemian Rhapsody, required a truly larger than life performance to match. That performance was found in the form of actor Rami Malek, who embodied Freddie Mercury studying his movements and stage presence, and even wearing false teeth to look like him. It turns out that the fake teeth really helped his performance too, as Rami Malek explained:
They started out being pretty difficult to deal with. We tried out all different sizes and when they first went in I felt very insecure, but immediately I compensated. Physically, I started to sit with more posture and elegance and I thought, 'Oh, he is so elegant!' You see him covering up his lips and his teeth all the time, and I could never quite get the hang of it. But as soon as those teeth went in, it was done. It was little things like that that were very informative for me.
From the outside looking in, you would think that acting would be much more difficult when one of your primary tools, your mouth, has a set of fake teeth in that change how you speak and feel, making you uncomfortable. And at first it sounds like that's how it was for Rami Malek, who told The Wrap that the teeth made him feel insecure, not entirely unlike Freddie Mercury himself, who would frequently cover his teeth.
But after getting over that initial awkwardness and embarrassment, Rami Malek found that having the teeth in actually helped his performance, as he sat up a little straighter and had more confidence. That confidence and as he describes it "elegance" in turn likely helped him feel what it was like to be Freddie Mercury, thus helping the actor to become the singer onscreen.
You saw something similar happen in the film too, when Freddie first introduced himself to Roger Taylor and Brian May. They comment on his teeth, which seems to hurt Freddie's feelings before he finds his confidence to stand a little taller, explaining that they make his mouth bigger and thus give him greater range before giving an impromptu audition that gets him the spot in the band.
The filmmakers actually tried different sizes of fake teeth for the film, going all the way up to the size of Freddie's real teeth. Those proved too big for Rami Malek's body and they opted to go with something that was a little more proportional, while still capturing Freddie Mercury's look.
You can't argue with the results either. While Bohemian Rhapsody on the whole has received fairly mixed critical reviews, that Rami Malek delivered a great performance as Freddie Mercury is generally agreed upon. While critics were split, audiences really took to Bohemian Rhapsody, propelling it like a tiger defying the laws of gravity to become the most successful musical biopic ever in North America.
Bohemian Rhapsody is now playing. For all of next year's biggest movies, check out our 2019 release schedule.