Capturing the energy and flamboyance of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury for Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody meant a dramatic transformation for Rami Malek, best known as the twitchy lead character in USA’s TV drama Mr. Robot. Hair and makeup department head Jan Sewell was challenged to take Malek, 37, from Mercury at age 19 into his late 30s.
“Certainly parts of his face really look like Freddie, but then there are other parts that don’t,” says Sewell. “Rami’s nose was a bit bigger, so we put on a tiny prosthetic nose to give him the very straight, aquiline nose that Freddie had — and because that also helped bring Rami’s eyes in a bit.”
She used eye makeup — with shading to make his eyes appear closer together — and shaded in his cheeks. “Rami has a fantastic jawline, not too different from Freddie, but I brought that out even more.”
And of course the department had multiple mouthfuls of teeth made to more closely match Mercury’s recognizable chompers. “We went through many pairs until we got the pair that we thought would do what we needed them to do, but wouldn’t take over.”
The accuracy of Sewell’s work was proven when Queen bandmember Brian May’s wife, Anita, came to set. Says Sewell: “Rami came up to the stage as Freddie in his later look, and she burst into tears. It was so emotional.”
This article originally appeared on THR.com.