Bohemian Rhapsody might have been one of the biggest movies of 2018, but it was Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury that stole the limelight.
However, Malek didn’t always have Mercury’s physique. In a recent interview with The Wrap, the 37-year-old opened up about what it took to get in shape for the role. And it sounds seriously gruelling.
The transformation started with his body.
Rather than adding on huge amounts of muscle, Malek had to both lean up (he was also playing a thin, frail character in ‘Mr. Robot’ at the time of shooting) and get physically fit to handle long days of shooting.
“I didn’t really want to bulk up, per se — I just wanted to get my body into a place where I could do a 22-minute concert over and over for five days and not be out of breath,” says Malek.
“Well, it’s highly impossible to do that. There were days when I found myself laying on my back trying to just absorb as much air as possible.”
Because the movie tracks the life of Freddie, starting at a young age, Malek found himself adjusting his physique to match up with the timeline. And that started with what he ate. His routine became intense given the short time frame.
“At the same time, I was on a very specific diet. I bulked up for that first week and immediately had to drop muscle and weight and go into shooting young Freddie, who is very scrawny.
“I just had to be really cognisant of when to work out and when to crash diet. I don’t recommend it for anyone.”
While changing his body was important, his stance was equally crucial.
“Physically, I started to sit with more posture and elegance and I thought, ‘Oh, he is so elegant!’ You see him covering up his lips and his teeth all the time, and I could never quite get the hang of it,” adds Malek.
Despite the stark similarities, Malek still needed to make a few changes to mimic the iconic singer. And that includes using a set of dentures that matched Mercury’s infamous front teeth.
“They started out being pretty difficult to deal with. We tried out all different sizes and when they first went in I felt very insecure, but immediately I compensated…But as soon as those teeth went in, it was done. It was little things like that that were very informative for me.”
There’s no doubt, Malek’s performance was memorable, but his hard work to prepare behind the scenes was equally as important as his acting ability.