If there’s one thing we know about 007, it’s that he always gets his man. His target this time: Rami Malek, the 38-year-old star of long-running Amazon Prime series Mr Robot, who knocked the entertainment industry’s socks off with his extraordinarily committed — and uncanny — performance as the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.
“Even before Bohemian Rhapsody he had a very, very good reputation,” says Daniel Craig, veteran of five Bond films including the forthcoming No Time to Die, which will be released in April. Along with the other Bond powers that be, including long-time producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson, and No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga, Craig was on the hunt for a new villain to take on in his final outing as the world’s most high-profile secret agent. “When it came down to casting this part, you have a wish-list of people you want to play it, and he was at the top of the list,” Craig tells me. “We lucked out. He was free.”
Malek himself wasn’t exactly under the radar — “He’d just won an Oscar,” as Craig points out — and it is easy to see the villainous potential in him. Apart from his reputation as a captivating actor, he has a remarkably versatile face: when he lowers his eyelids, his large, blue eyes look sleepy and cold; if he hollows his cheeks, his jaw juts and his cheekbones pop; he has a low, sonorous voice that he can flatten to a sinister monotone. (The cheekbones and jawline combo comes in handy at other times, too: Malek is currently the face of Saint Laurent’s SS ’20 menswear campaign.)
But nor was he, in fact, free: he was shooting the fourth and final season of Mr Robot in New York. Dates were jiggled, then re-jiggled, then re-jiggled again, until finally a couple of weeks were found right at the end of the Bond production schedule during which Malek could come to Pinewood Studios, just west of London, and film the bulk of his scenes.
“When someone tells me something’s a possibility, I just start to think, ‘Let’s make it work’,” says Malek, who is engaging and cheery in person, his eyes widening boyishly (because — whaddyaknow! — they can do that too). “I kind of just get laser-focused on it, especially when it excites me.”
It’s late December, and Malek and I are sitting in the lounge of a tastefully expensive hotel in Tribeca, New York, as inconsequential flurries of snow fall outside. (Well, to be precise, we sit in the lounge until about an hour into our interview, when a mysterious blonde with a beret and a small dog comes and sits opposite us, uncomfortably close. A hotel guest? An avid fan? An agent of Spectre? We relocate to a table in the conservatory, just in case.)
Dressed in what he describes as his staple outfit — neat navy sweater over a white shirt plus dark trousers and black boots — Malek is talking about the logistics of doing the new Bond film because, although his presence in No Time to Die is a significant reason for the timing of our interview, he also can’t really talk about it very much. So huge is the franchise — to give an idea of how huge, in October last year, The Telegraph described “James Bond and the UK’s booming film industry” as appearing to have “rescued the economy from a pre-Brexit recession” — and so well controlled its machinations, that it’s not worth any participant’s while to spill more details than they should.
“I have to be extremely careful,” says Malek, on his turn as the so-far-so-mysterious Safin. “I can’t really talk about the character.” He also can’t confirm whether he’s signed on for two films, as has been rumoured, or what it was that he came up with during a read-through that prompted Daniel Craig to kiss him — an anecdote that the pair have been testing out on American talk shows. Nor can he describe the outcome of the discussions with Fleabag writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, brought in to help with the script and work out how an enlightened, “21st-century Bond” might react to certain plot predicaments. “You’ll end up seeing that in the film,” he’ll say with a not unapologetic shrug.
The week before we meet, there had been a press junket for the cast here in New York, including Malek, Craig, the French actress Léa Seydoux who reprises her role as Madeleine Swann, and British Bond newcomer Lashana Lynch, who plays Nomi, a rival “00” spy. A whole junket dedicated to not talking about the thing you’re there to talk about. It sounds taxing. Malek came up with a parrying strategy. “I often asked the journalists, ‘Do you really want to know? It will spoil the film for you, and it’s such an extraordinary event, in it being the 25th instalment and Daniel’s final one.’ I said, ‘Do you really want me to ruin this for you?’” [More at source]
Happy new year everyone!
Rami stepped out in a dashing YSL suit to attend the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards with Lucy, where he was nominated for Mr. Robot but lost to that actor in that show that I refuse to talk about. Click on the photos below to check out the full albums of Rami on the red carpet and during the show.
The time have come to say goodbye to Elliot Alderson and man we were not ready. The series finale was mind blowing and fit for such a rollercoaster of a season. We’d also like to send a shout out to our partner in crime Japser who runs Martin Wallström Online for sticking with us through this journey and helping with the screencaptures of this last season of Mr. Robot. Head to the gallery for the last update of Mr. Robot.
Rami stopped by Good Morning America when the new Bond trailer dropped and we had a sneak peek of how fun and amazing the new press tour is going to be with Daniel Craig. Check out the video below and the photo coverage in the gallery.
Rami Malek is having a good hair day. “This is the best his hair’s been since February,” says the young woman twirling scented oil through Malek’s strands while the actor stands obediently still, slightly bashful, like anyone who is being publicly oiled. His hair looks exactly the way it does in every episode of Mr. Robot, which is at the tail end of shooting its final season here in Brooklyn. The hair is worth mentioning because it has spawned a mini men’s version of the Rachel, Jennifer Aniston’s hair on Friends, in that it is easily identifiable and widely imitated. “It’s a two on the sides that’s faded to a one and a half,” says the young woman with the oil, in case anyone wants to memorize that and take it to the barber. “And it’s disconnected from the top to the sides and faded up to the parietal ridge.”
“This is GQ, not National Geographic,”Malek says. “Disconnected is appropriate, though.”
It is. Malek had been acting for more than a decade when he got the part of Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot, which came out in 2015 on USA, of all networks, and immediately generated a robust Reddit presence and an ardent audience of people for whom a dystopian but sensitive thriller felt appropriate in an age of deep fakes and flourishing conspiracies. Elliot works as a cybersecurity technician who gets embroiled in a hacktivist scheme to wrest financial justice from an evil corporation. He has a rocky relationship with humanity but a lucid one with the technological reality of the world we live in. You get the sense, in watching, that if you knew what he did, you’d microwave your SIM cards and self-medicate with morphine, too.
For three years Malek’s fame gently increased as the show’s influence grew. In 2016 he won an Emmy. Then he starred as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, which became the highest-grossing music biopic of all time, and he swept awards season, receiving a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, a BAFTA Award, and, of course, an Oscar, for which he gave a graceful acceptance speech that touched on his status as the son of immigrants. Next year he’ll play the villain in the new James Bond movie with Daniel Craig. Descriptions of his rise often involve violent metaphors (catapulting to stardom, exploding into the zeitgeist), which is inadvertently appropriate for someone who physically falls down as much as Malek. [More at Source]