Rami Malek has a super power. I had the demonstration last October, during the last remnants of Paris Fashion Week. We are at the Hotel Le Bristol and in the middle of our conversation, he suddenly turns towards a young woman who is whispering on the phone in the back of the room: she is an assistant of Cartier, a brand of which Malek is a zealous ambassador and reason for the its presence in France.
“Look, I hear everything,” he warns him politely. The assistant turns all red.
“My hearing is insanely perfect,” he smiles, proud of his Superman prowess. «To the point that if the director chews a chewing gum on the set, I look into the camera and say: “Spit it out please”».
So take note. Rami Malek not only has unforgettable eyes that seem to see everything in CinemaScope, but also a very fine ear. After all, precision is an idea that often comes up in our conversation… But first of all, let’s talk about his gaze: impossible to miss, it is the trait-d’union between the disparate and notable roles of the actor, from the tormented sociopathic hacker in the Mr. Robot series, to Freddie Mercury in pursuit of musical perfection in Bohemian Rhapsody, up to the evil James Bond antagonist in No Time to Die. “Does that guy ever blink?” Tom Hanks asked, like all of us, on GQ in 2019, commenting on Malek’s casting for the series The Pacific of which he was co-producer. “Unique” eyes, “wide open and sleepy at the same time”, which made him recruit in the role of the sarcastic corporal Shelton, always ready for a biting joke.
Yet, the Rami Malek who stands before me has nothing of the superhero. Of course, the look is penetrating, but the thought of him slips to his line in a Saturday Night Live sketch in which he had to talk about himself: «It’s as if the soul of a Victorian-era child were trapped in the eyes of a he”».
A joke, but not too much, given that at 41 the actor has an unusually young, almost ageless air. Certainly, a detail that has not damaged his career. Dressed in an understated military-collared shirt, waistcoat, and matching black slacks, Malek, a native of Torrance, California, has the air of a poet, a bohemian Parisian Left Bank artist. And, perhaps not surprisingly, our exchange begins with a decidedly French topic: Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda and the Nouvelle Vague «have redefined cinema and I love when everything is redefined», he says that a quarter of an hour first she posed on the hotel stairs, totally at ease, hyper-professional, very fashion week under the lens of the GQ photographer. [More at Source]
A fearless chameleon with an eye for powerful stories about humans who – like him – favor extraordinary routes, Rami Malek is an innate storyteller. From his lead role as Elliot Alderson in the psychological drama Mr Robot (2015- 2019), to his Best Actor Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and British Academy Film Awards performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), and the super villain Lyutsifer Safin in No Time to Die (2021), 41-year-old Malek has slipped into the skin of many characters, shared multiple compelling narratives – and he’s just getting started. His latest cinematic venture, Amsterdam, a period mystery comedy set to be released this month, sees him with a star-studded cast that includes Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, and Robert De Niro.
Born in California to Egyptian immigrant parents, Malek’s moment of triumph at the 2019 Oscar’s ceremony was a cause for celebration the world over. His Middle Eastern features – large pools for eyes and chiseled face – coupled with his outspoken pride for his heritage make the thespian something of a contemporary Arab icon. Malek still credits his youthful charades for igniting his interest in his career of choice. “I was really shy when I was a child. I had all this bottled-up energy that I did not feel like I could communicate, or that I was comfortable communicating in public. But when I was alone and at ease, all that stored up energy would get channeled into play, into what I would now call ‘characters,’ all with fully developed voices and characteristics. I had such a strong imagination for what kind of people they were.” Malek adds with a hint of nostalgia, “It was instantaneous and powerful, so liberating and just fun. Though it would take me months to develop a character as realized as those now.”
Around the world, acting is rarely perceived as a conventional path, but such a career choice is abhorred by Middle Eastern parents, who always wish for stability and convenience for their children. “I think any parent is frightened when their kid announces they are going to attempt to enter a particularly precarious industry. They had immigrated from Egypt with the intention of creating more opportunities for their kids than they had, but I still do not think ‘I want to be an actor’ fills your heart with relief [as a parent],” says Malek of his family’s initial resistance to his career choice.
With a resolute intention to build a film repertoire peppered with impactful human stories, Malek opted for storylines from various ethnic backgrounds, always conscious to not comply to stereotypical expectations. As a pathfinder for today’s Arab talents who aim to cement their presence in a global industry, Malek believes that his winning formula starts with refusing to be boxed in according to one’s racial identity. “In an industry where you feel lucky just being seen, it is hard to take that first step in setting boundaries, but it is a vital decision, and you will not regret it because your life and dignity are more than this job. And of course, then it changes, or creates the possibility for change for the next person who comes along after you.” On the current generation of thriving Arab creatives, Malek says witnessing the Vogue Arabia curated team of Egyptians working on his cover shoot was “one of the highlights for me this year.” He continues, “I was so inspired by all the artists from my background, who were sharing their unique talents on this scale. Egypt and its neighboring countries have such an expansive history of great art, artists, and extraordinary culture. It was so fulfilling to watch this next generation in action, continuing that legacy.” [More at Source]
“Let’s see. Which way am I going?”
The question is, of course, rhetorical. Looking back as he speaks, Malek nimbly navigates a maze of monitors, tripods, coiled cables and coffee tables in an already labyrinthine suite at The London hotel in the West Hollywood section of Los Angeles. “See, even back here I’m in my London bubble,” says Malek, a California native who’s outside Britain for the first time since before the Covid-19 pandemic struck properly back in March.
After a few sidesteps, Malek reaches behind drawn curtains, opens a pair of glass doors and we emerge onto a sprawling terrace with commanding views of the city. He sits on a long, L-shape sofa, the Hollywood sign visible in the distance behind him. “Ahhh. Here, this is a good two metres,” he says, his embrace of the metric system a sign of England’s effect on him. He gestures at his facemask: “Can I… Can I take this off?”
Although I say yes and remove my own face covering, Malek leaves his on, even while talking. “This is very much home and not just in heart,” says the 39-year-old actor, who grew up a few miles away. “So it’s been really sweet to spend time with my family in the last few days, even with the masks on.” In addition to seeing family, Malek is in Los Angeles to get back, however haltingly, to work. He’s spent the past several hours in various parts of this hotel suite recording a series of behind-the-scenes commentaries for No Time To Die – the 25th instalment of the James Bond franchise – in which Malek, if you didn’t know already, plays the mysterious arch-villain Safin.
Those promotional videos are, today, right here and now, among the mounting signs that the film is definitely, maybe, hopefully coming to theatres less than two months from this late September day. “Yeah, it seems like we’re actually going to release in November,” Malek adds. “Fingers crossed.” He shrugs as if to say, “Who knows?” [More at Source]
When he became the first person of Arab descent to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, Rami Malek had climbed the mountain. Now, with a starring role in an iconic franchise, he’s standing on one summit and staring up at a whole new peak
When Rami Malek stepped backstage after winning his Academy Award for Best Actor in 2019, his body felt so light it was almost numb. He was greeted by his agent, Doug Lucterhand, his publicist, Michelle Margolis, and a smattering of other people on his team. It didn’t take long for emotion to peak. A serving of his preferred agave-infused beverage arrived as if on cue. He savoured every drop.
From backstage, Malek could hear the rise and fall of noise as the show hit a denouement. It sounded like a faint TV broadcast, the vamping orchestra that gives way to commercial-break chatter, the way the clinking of glassware slows a little before an award is presented, and a distant announcement that the 91st Academy Awards were over. He was happy to sidestep the commotion entirely.
Malek’s clan for the Oscars was generous in size. Bohemian Rhapsody had marked many firsts for Malek. It was his first tentpole leading role. It was the first time he had a real live, on-set assistant. It was his first Academy Award nomination. It was his first Academy Award win. It felt imperative to Malek that all those who’d helped him arrive to that stage, and that win, were there. There in spirit is cool – there on guestlist is cooler. So, Jan Sewell, the film’s makeup designer, was there. Polly Bennett, the British movement coach whose expertise helped Malek so eerily resemble the late Freddie Mercury, was there. Emma Hammond, his first-ever real live assistant, was there. (Ever grateful, Malek says the Oscars were, “Extremely accommodating.”)
An armada of vehicles at the ready, the Malek collective began a night of revelry. First they stopped by a Fox party, where Queen – Brian May, Roger Taylor et al – were ready to toast. A man named John on Malek’s security detail kept the knightly Oscar statuette fortified. Things got a little crowded, so they moved on, and on, and on, venue-hopping and dancing, bumping into Hollywood peers and luminaries, realising and re-realising what had just happened, until night gave way to morning.
“There was nothing compelling me to go home,” says Malek. “I danced my ass off that night.”
Eventually, they retired to a house, where Malek ended his night consuming “copious amounts of pasta in bed”.
The next morning, Malek glanced down at his phone. It had been collecting iMessages, WhatsApps and missed calls at an unprecedented rate.
“That seems to go on for a few days. There are a few people that anticipate that your phone is getting blown up, so they kind of give you some time and space out their calls. I spent about a week just responding to everyone that reached out,” says Malek. “That’s so fulfilling: to have all of your friends and loved ones, in a way, be able to celebrate that moment with you. To a lot of these people, I’m still that kid they grew up with, and was giving acting a shot, and we would all see if it would work out.”
A little over 48 hours after his win, Malek was back on set, filming the fourth season of the Golden Globe award-winning series Mr. Robot, trying to make it work out all over again. [more at source]