Fans of the charismatic rock star Freddie Mercury can be forgiven for never expecting the much-anticipated (and much-delayed) biopic Bohemian Rhapsody to actually be completed. First announced in 2010, the nearly decade since has seen cast changes, rumors of tensions between the surviving members of Mercury’s band Queen and the film’s producers and questions about the accuracy of the script.
Given all of that, it is no wonder that many of us breathed a sigh of relief when actor Rami Malek stepped on stage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Thursday to introduce a never before seen clip of the film. Malek, an Emmy Award winner for his role in USA’s Mr. Robot, was cast as the Zanzibar-born Mercury in 2015. Since then, he’s reportedly took singing lessons in order to sound as much like Mercury as possible. (No word yet on whether Malek was able to recreate Mercury’s extraordinary vocal range.)
Born Farrokh Bulsara to Indian Parsi parents who had moved to Zanzibar, Mercury’s first experience as a member of a band came as a member of The Hectics, a band he and British actor Derrick Branche formed in 1958 while both were high schoolers at St. Peter’s Boys School outside of what was then Bombay. The Bulsara family would move from Zanzibar to England due to political unrest in 1964. Since Mercury’s death, his family has often spoken of their South Asian roots, most notably in this 2011 interview with The Telegraph.
Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming film Bohemian Rhapsody.
We’ll get to see the moment Freddie joined the band: As Entertainment Weekly reports, the beginning scenes of the film center on the moment a young Mercury met Brian May and Roger Taylor (who of course would go on to form Queen.) The clip Malek unveiled to reporters featured the very moment Mercury — who was then an unknown art student living with his Parsi immigrant parents — asked to join the band.
Brian May was moved to tears: One of the most touching moments of Thursday’s presentation occurred when Malek shared an email he received after guitarist May watched the film. “The greatest compliment I could get was the other day after Mr. Brian May emailed me after seeing the movie and saying how moved to tears he was, and that if Freddie were here today, he would not and could not be more proud of what we were able to achieve,” Malek told the crowd. “And that is something I’m gonna take to the grave.”
The new director is Dexter Fletcher: After director Bryan Singer was very publicly fired from Bohemian Rhapsody in December for allegedly disappearing from set for days at a time and fighting with Malek and other crew members, many wondered if the film would make its scheduled release. New director Dexter Fletcher was brought on by Twentieth Century Fox a few days after Singer’s ouster.
Rami Malek was very nervous about the role: Malek admitted to reporters that he was very wary about portraying Mercury because of his role in the popular imagination. “When I got this role, I thought, ‘Oh my God, this could be a career-defining performance,’ ” he noted. “And about two minutes later I thought this could be a career killer… You don’t get this right and it’s trouble.”
Bohemian Rhapsody is set to be released on November 2.
Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox