Rami Malek rocked his way to Best Actor Oscar glory for his exuberant portrayal of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the 91st Academy Awards.
In a tightly-fought race, the actor was pitted against industry veterans — Christian Bale for “Vice”, Bradley Cooper for “A Star is Born”, Viggo Mortensen for “Green Book” and Willem Dafoe for “At Eternity’s Gate”.
But he had already cemented his position as the frontrunner by scooping up the precursor awards — Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild.
Academy members love physical transformation and Malek was at his peak when he brought to life one of the greatest musicians ever, eclipsing the metamorphosis by Bale, who gained considerable amount of weight to play former US vice president Dick Cheney.
Malek brought a heartbreaking vulnerability to Mercury in the quieter moments of the biopic while keeping the audiences spellbound in the bits when he was performing.
He was especially memorable in the last 15-minutes of the film as he recreated Mercury’s Live Aid concert, considered one of the best rock performances of all time.
The role was earlier supposed to be done by Sasha Baron Cohen but he left the project due to creative differences with Queen members, giving Malek a chance to step in and he alluded to this fact in his acceptance speech.
Malek, in one of the most emotional and heartfelt speeches of the ceremony, remembered his late father and showered love on his mother, who was in the audience.
“I may not have been the obvious choice, but I guess it worked out. Thank you, Queen. Thank you guys for being, for allowing me to be the tiniest part of your phenomenal, extraordinary legacy. I am forever in your debt,” he said.
The 37-year-old actor said the film was for people who have struggled with their identity and place in the world.
“I think about what it would have been like to tell little Bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him, and I think his curly-haired little mind would be blown. That kid was struggling with his identity, trying to figure himself out.
“And I think to anyone struggling with theirs and trying to discover their voice, listen we made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself. And the fact that I’m celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we’re longing for stories like this,” he said, in a reference to Mercury.