HFPA in Conversation: Rami Malek, From Hacker to Rock Star

by Kirpi Uimonen Ballesteros October 31, 2018
Actor Rami Malek, Golden Globe nominee

jeff spicer for 20th century fox/getty images

The change is huge between Rami Malek’s two recent characters - from the morphine addict, antisocial cyber hacker Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot to the legendary, flamboyant rock star Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The Golden Globe-nominated Malek sat down with HFPA journalist Rocio Ayuso and looked back at his hectic life. “I felt like there was a ticking time bomb and that it was like an episode of 24 where if you don't put the blue wire into the red wire and then cut the green one, it's all going to explode.  It was a matter of having no other choice but at the end of the day, finish with Mr. Robot, literally take off the hoodie and then sit down and watch some of the archival footage from Mr. Mercury.  Then put in the set of teeth that I had our makeup designer build for me, and then work on that for a couple of hours.”

For a short time, he would take a breather to just have some time of his own. "Then I would at one moment go, oh wait, you forgot, you still have to go back to Mr. Robot tomorrow so there are some lines you have to learn. And it was nonstop for about a year and a half.”

It was challenging, mentally and emotionally, and he needed to stay focused. “We're afforded these moments so sparingly in our lives that I thought this was one moment where you're just not going to have a lot of breathing room and you just ask everyone to be patient with you in your personal life because these opportunities only come around once in a lifetime.”

Why Malek got drawn to Mercury’s life story? “I have seen how much Elliot has affected human beings and here's another person that is definitely a misfit, an outcast, he's got so much mischief behind his eyes.  And there's a story in him that oddly can resemble Elliot in a weird way, very conflicted young man searching for his identity and his calling.”

Listen to the podcast and learn why a school teacher changed his life; what kind of movies he watched with his dad when he was a kid; why were his knees knocking before auditions; why he brought baklava to a casting director; why it is important to have a life outside acting circles; what he does when he has doubts regarding acting; why he traveled to Argentina; how he bonded with his cast mates on the TV show Pacific; what happened when he had an audition for Mr. Robot; how his dad’s advice shaped the character Elliot Alderson; why Elliot has a fish; what kind of role model Elliot is; what he has learned from showrunner Sam Esmail; how he found Freddie Mercury’s voice and moves; what kind of diet and exercise routine he followed; how he can relate to Mercury; what Mercury’s sister said to him in an email; what is his favorite Queen song; will he wants to sing Queen’s songs in the future; and what kind of advice Christian Slater gave him.

Listen to the conversation here or, for immediate access to all of our podcasts, subscribe to HFPA in Conversation on iTunes.