How Rami Malek Mastered Freddie Mercury's Moves For 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox
L-R: Joe Mazzello (John Deacon), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury), and Gwilym Lee (Brian May) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Bohemian Rhapsody rocked the box office following its Nov. 2 opening, raking in $50 million its first weekend in North America. The Freddie Mercury film had the second-biggest start of all time for a music biopic, behind only Straight Outta Compton in 2015 ($60.2 million). One of the key ingredients to its success? Actor Rami Malek’s convincing portrayal of Queen’s flamboyant frontman. Malek’s movement coach, London-based Polly Bennett (The Crown), breaks down the nuances of Mercury’s signature style.

ATHLETIC FORM

“[Freddie] was a long-distance runner at school and a boxer. This gives us a reason why Freddie ran across the stage and punched the air, and [allows me to explain to] Rami: ‘This is why that character moves the way that he does.’ It’s interesting that Freddie only did solo sports, rather than football or rugby or any sort of team sport. In itself, that creates a physical attitude.”

OVERCOMING INSECURITY

“If you’ve got something that you’re self-conscious of, your body is going to respond. It’s the same for Freddie’s large teeth. Onstage, he holds his microphone incredibly close to his lips. He’s using the apparatus as both his power and his self-consciousness.”

OLD-HOLLYWOOD FLAIR

“He enjoys the flamboyance and the curly hands of Marlene Dietrich and Liza Minnelli. He loves the head turns and little kicks. And sometimes, those kicks are really practical -- he seems to be stepping over microphone leads, but he turns them into a move. There’s a certain awareness of physical gesture that he is emanating.”

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of Billboard.

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