To watch Bohemian Rhapsody, the newest biopic tackling the legacy of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, is to witness a transformation so authentic it’s hard to believe actor Rami Malek isn’t Mercury’s long-lost relative. With each mustache-laden smirk and microphone twirl, Malek seamlessly embodies one of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest singers. He makes it look effortless, boldly pulling off the incredible feat of becoming Mercury.
Though he accurately recreates every on-stage move, at the heart of his performance is a palpable tenderness that humanizes a larger-than-life persona. Malek’s portrayal goes beyond costumes and prosthetics, as he injects his version of Mercury with vulnerability. It’s in every moment, both big and small, that Malek brings the spirit of Mercury to life—and a fascination with Queen back into the hearts of viewers and fans alike.
Stepping into the shoes of such an unforgettable musician can be daunting, but critics have been nearly unanimous with their praise, agreeing that casting him for the role was “a stroke of brilliance.” Malek has received widespread acclaim for his performance, beating out Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, Lucas Hedges, and John David Washington to win a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama. During his self-described “heart pounding” acceptance speech at the Globes, he made sure to thank the band, and he affectionately singled out Mercury: “Thank you to Freddie Mercury for giving me the joy of a lifetime. I love you, you beautiful man. This is for and because of you, gorgeous,” he said.
Now he’s up for an Oscar for best actor, which Queen guitarist Brian May believes is well deserved. “He inhabited Freddie to the point where we even started to think of him as Freddie. Really remarkable,” he said to the Press Association. To help you decide for yourself, we’ve compiled nine make-or-break moments where Malek succeeded at rocking you.