Rami Malek, as your mum might say, is being a brave soldier.
We’re in an artist’s loft studio in some bit of New York you’re unlikely to ever visit. It is an airless 89 degrees Fahrenheit, yet Malek entered this fiery hell box wearing a jumper and shirt. He’s ill. So ill that he’s cancelled an interview, a talk-show appearance, and was yesterday sent home from work. However, aware of how far we’ve come to see him, he’s turned up for our shoot. What a guy!
If you don’t know who Malek is, you’ll likely know his face. It’s on his head, at the front, like most faces, but it’s one of the most distinctive in this world we call Acting. Gaunt, grey and wide-eyed, it’s been front and centre of every billboard, trailer, online banner ad, every Amazon Prime Video homepage, promoting his hugely successful show, Mr Robot.
When we meet, Malek, whose name rhymes with Barmy Dalek rather than Jammy Phallic (my rhymes, not his), is shooting the show’s fourth season. His role as mentally ill drug addict Elliot requires affecting a particularly cadaverous junkie chic, topped with a haircut best described as a non-committal Mohican. Today, though, he looks particularly frail, giving a more literal meaning to the word ‘ashen’: pallor aside, it feels as if a puff of wind would scatter his slight frame across the room like a long-extinguished pyre.
Luckily for him, and nobody else here, the only breeze in this furnace of a room comes from the disappointing wheeze of a tall, sluggish antique industrial fan and an asthmatic air-con unit.
“Nice T-shirt,” says Malek, with a smile.
The T-shirt is my grey Queen ‘Japan ’76 tour’ replica. Our four eyes are locked on the main man, Freddie Mercury, who Malek will play in Bryan Singer’s upcoming Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.
I explain that he was one of my childhood heroes, and Malek’s smile becomes a little more sheepish.
“I’m beginning to discover that he was a lot of people’s hero,” he says.
I feel bad. It was meant as an ice-breaker; now I’ve taken a man whose internal major organs have apparently taken a dislike to him, and strapped to his back the weight of a million unrealistic expectations. More on that later.
If you haven’t seen Mr Robot, no one will judge you. In the minestrone of mediocrity that is streamable content, finding a perfectly cooked noodle is tough. Mr Robot is, however, al dente.
Set in New York, it sees a ‘hacktivist’ group called fsociety go to war on big evil conglomerate E Corp: a world-domineering company with fingers in every daily-life pie. While fsociety eventually succeeds in its goal, it struggles to cauterise the wound inflicted by pulling the plug on a nation’s infrastructure. [Read More]