Actor in Focus: Rami Malek

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Rami Malek’s fame may have been initially confined to the small screen, with a few odd Hollywood roles here and there – remember his brief stint as a vampire in the last Twilight? –  but, in recent years, he has near skyrocketed to the top of the A-list. With the new Bond film No Time to Die expected later this year, Malek starring alongside Daniel Craig’s Bond as mysterious supervillain Safin, it is a good time to look back at the actor’s accomplished career.

Born to Egyptian immigrants in 1981, Malek first started acting in high school. Despite initially striving to be a lawyer, he graduated with a degree in theatre in 2003. In true ‘broke actor’ fashion, Malek worked odd jobs for a year and a half before finally getting his first gig with a short stint on Gilmore Girls. It was only one episode, but it was enough to get the ball rolling. Malek made his feature film debut two years later, as Pharaoh Ahkmenrah in Night at the Museum. Despite not being a major character in the *ahem* questionable yet successful film, Malek’s overwhelming charm and boyishness made him a standout.

The big roles finally started coming with The Pacific and Mr. Robot. Tom Hanks, producer on both The Pacific and its predecessor Band of Brothers, wrote to Malek personally praising him for his work as soldier Snafu. Such acclaim was shared amongst critics and audiences alike. As is his way, Malek became massively invested in his character during the preparation process; this complete and utter dedication to the craft paid off critically but led to Malek taking a brief break from acting following production.

Mr. Robot, a now cult classic TV show, was arguably what cemented Malek’s fame and proved his talent as an actor to a wider audience. Alienated anti-hero Elliot Alderson is a complex character and Malek captured his troubled nature perfectly over the show’s four-season run. His quiet energy is unnervingly compelling, with the viewer forced to track each of Elliot’s small movements and mannerisms as to have some inclination of what will happen next. His big eyes are a haunting window to the soul, his reserved disposition a source of consistent anxiety. The show has been lauded far and wide. A good show is only as good as its lead actor, with Malek rightfully winning an Emmy for his performance back in 2016.

Bohemian Rhapsody may have divided audiences, but the brilliance of Malek’s performance as rock legend Freddie Mercury is undeniable. Underneath the false teeth and moustache, Malek embodies the singer’s energy down to the tiniest of details, such as his strut, uneasy confidence, and even the angle at which he holds the microphone. The actor reportedly watched Queen’s iconic Live Aid performance over 1500 times, and such dedication can be seen in the performance. It’s captivating, impeccably mirroring the original Freddie’s untouched skills as a showman. His Oscar win for Best Actor was well-deserved, with said win making him the first Egyptian actor to ever score the award.

To say that Rami Malek’s work has proven him to be a skilled, versatile actor is an understatement. From antisocial hackers to traumatised soldiers to iconic rock stars, Malek wins across the board, bringing mesmerising scene-stealing performances with each new character. As the latest Bond villain, he has a lot to live up to. He is following a long legacy of classic antagonists, from Dr. No to Le Chiffre to Blofeld. Judging from his backlog of superb acting though, it’s safe to say that the role is in good hands.

No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, will be released in the UK via Universal Pictures on the 12th November. Watch the trailer below:

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film and english student! can be found arguing about costuming in the avenue cafe or crying into a book in hartley

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