Meet The Man Who Turned Down Rami Malek's Role In Bohemian Rhapsody

17 October 2019
Sam Riley, Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody, Movies, Film
British actor Sam Riley tells GQ Middle East that he turned down the role that earned Malek an Oscar

It’s fair to say that Rami Malek absolutely nailed his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The Oscar he won for the role speaks to that. But imagine if he hadn’t had the chance to play the part. Imagine if the producers had cast someone else.

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British actor Sam Riley has told GQ Middle East exclusively that he actually turned down Malek’s role as Freddie Mercury after it was offered to him.
Riley, who previously played another iconic singer, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis in the 2007’s Control, spoke to GQ Middle East ahead of the release of his new film Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.

Riley told us that it was important to turn down roles if you don’t feel you can do them justice, but that he’d turned down one or two that he probably shouldn’t have.

When pushed, he revealed that he’d said no to playing Queen’s legendary frontman. Riley was quick to say though that he thought it was probably for the best as Malek’s performance was outstanding.

For Malek, accepting the role was also a big decision. After winning his Oscar he told The Guardian that accepting the role was a “kind of the gun-to-the-head moment”. “What do you do? …” After all, trying to do justice to one of the biggest personalities ever to have lived is no easy task. Get it right and everyone will love you. Get it wrong and…

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Having donned prosthetic teeth to recreate Mercury’s unmistakable smile, and delved deep into in the Queen archives, watching every piece of footage he could find, Malek’s Freddie Mercury was undoubtedly a triumph. However, the final vocals were a mix of Malek’s voice and that of Marc Martel a Canadian Christian rock singer who sounds eerily similar to Mercury.

Malek went on to become the first man with Arab heritage to win the Oscar for Best Actor (and appeared on the first GQ Middle East cover) and the rest, as they say, is history.