Rami Malek Honored at Film Festival
Rami Malek taking a selfie with a fan (Photos: Fritz Olenberger)
By edhat staff
Actor Rami Malek was honored with the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on Friday evening.
Malek recently won a Golden Globe and SAG, and has an Academy Award nomination for his depiction of Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody."
Malek arrived at the Arlington Theatre to throngs of crowds in the rain. He arrived with friend and presenter Joe Mazzello and co-star Lucy Boynton. before sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg for an in-depth conversation and look back at his career.
The sold-out crowd greeted Malek with a standing ovation. Taking it back to his acting start, Malek described how he saw his dad become emotional during his first play cementing something special inside of him. After moving to Los Angeles, he finally received a call from a casting agent where he pretended to be his own agent, which worked.
When asked about the lack of diversity and minorities in Hollywood, Malek, born to Egyptian immigrant parents, acknowledged that his early roles as an Egyptian King, Iraqi insurgent, and Egyptian vampire were not the route he wanted to go. “This is not how I want to represent myself and if I keep doing this I will typecast myself and pigeon hole myself. I drew the line in the sand and said ‘that’s it’. I will represent my culture and heritage but it will be positive and down the line when it really makes sense,” he said
Malek's major role came as the star of the critically acclaimed and award-winning psychological drama Mr. Robot. For his role as Elliot Alderson, a mentally unstable computer hacker, Malek won an Emmy and Critics Choice Award, and is also a two-time Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee. “I came in there, I read the script and thought wow, this is a really good script but an odd title and I thought oh this will go away. But it stuck,” said Malek.
As soon as the opportunity arose to play Freddie Mercury, Malek said yes right away and moments later thought, "What have I done?"
“My characters (Freddie and Elliot) are polar opposites, one who can command the stage and one who can barely leave his computer monitor but in some ways they share this loneliness and they are not so dissimilar,” said Malek.
He recounts the feeling of having the surviving members of Queen on set including Brian May. “Without them, we wouldn’t have the story and they could have harped on anything that didn’t seem genuine. Right from the start Brian May came in there and he wanted us to succeed. He was extending all the love and admiration and acceptance, most of all. He would say ‘I can’t believe you guys are telling our story.’ I looked so forward to the days when he was there because it made me want to give my best Freddie.”
At the conclusion of the conversation, Malek’s longtime friend and Bohemian Rhapsody co-star Joe Mazzello was introduced to the stage to present Malek with his award. Malek earlier referenced the beginning of their friendship discussing their immediate chemistry 12 years ago while reading for Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for The Pacific. Joe went on boasting about his friend saying, “I’m so happy Rami is finally being recognized for his work on this movie that has been terribly overlooked,” to roaring laughter. “I so admired his grace under pressure. As long as we had Rami, we were gonna be alright. It was a privilege to share the screen, again, with the man who makes it great.”
While accepting his award, Malek continued his compliments of Joe saying, “I learned subtlety in acting from this man and I treasure this relationship. He is someone who I’ve garnered so much education from, from the perspective of being a good human being. I thank you so much for everything.”
The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year. Past recipients of the award include Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan.