Rami Malek’s Live Aid scenes in Bohemian Rhapsody are an exact replica of Freddie Mercury’s 1985 performance.
In the biopic, the Mr Robot star adopted Mercury’s life, music, clothes and even overbite to tell the story of Queen’s irreplaceable frontman.
The movie was released in October and opens and closes with scenes from Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance, allowing viewers to see what the show was like 33 years after it happened.
In his efforts to do justice to the performance – which many considered one of the greatest rock performances in history – Malek told news.com.au he watched Queen’s Live Aid set around 1,500 times on YouTube.
With a 20 minute set, that’s 500 hours of scrutinising.
The research obviously paid off though, because Malek’s performance matches Mercury’s perfectly, right down to the hand gestures, head movements and pursing of the lips.
Take a look at a comparison below – the actor even switches which hand is holding the microphone in unison with the singer:
I DIDNT REALIZE THEY DID IT THIS PRECISELY pic.twitter.com/05f6ZW1TMn
— BEST OF FREDDIE MERCURY (@MOMENTOFMERCURY) November 11, 2018
Malek explained his process of recreating Live Aid, revealing while he did try to perfect the performance, little mistakes still could have slipped through:
That’s something we tried to get move for move, even just gesture for gesture perfectly.
It felt like I had it in my bones and I didn’t want to keep going back to it. It felt like sometimes you would lose a little bit of the authenticity if you tried to nail it so perfectly.
Things won’t exactly always match up, there might be a hint of something that’s off, but I think that kept it feeling really alive and in the moment and it was better to sacrifice it that way, but yeah, I was watching it non-stop.
Malek worked with a movement coach ahead of his Live Aid scenes, in order to help him portray Mercury’s unique gestures and characterisations.
Coach Polly Bennett studied the way Mercury moved, working out why he did what he did, therefore allowing Malek to better understand and recreate them throughout Bohemian Rhapsody.
In an interview with Billboard, Polly described some of Mercury’s habits, saying:
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.
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.
Although the film received some criticisms for its pace and omission of some key Queen facts, I don’t think Malek’s performance, or at the very least his commitment to the role, can be faulted.
BBC film reviewer Ali Plumb wrote:
With so much story to tell, the film hops through at an alarming pace, zipping here and there across the years. You might want to quickly reacquaint yourself with Queen’s Wikipedia page to remind yourself of a few key facts before you head into the cinema.
Rami Malek is great. He throws himself into the role of Freddie Mercury, relishing every scene, every microphone swing, every “Figaro!”
If you were worried that “That guy off Mr. Robot” wouldn’t deliver the goods when it comes to the bravura rock performer, worry no more: he’s excellent.
Bohemian Rhapsody might not give viewers a fully true-to-life depiction of Queen’s rise to fame, but Malek’s Live Aid performance certainly shows the audience what it was like to be in the crowd that day, July 13, 1985.
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