A First Glimpse of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Compared with the Real Freddie Mercury Performing at Live Aid in 1985

Few film­mak­ers have ever fig­ured out how to make a motion pic­ture about an already larg­er-than-life per­son­al­i­ty, and per­son­al­i­ties haven’t come much larg­er in recent his­to­ry than Fred­die Mer­cury’s. Talk of a movie about the Queen front­man, who died in 1991, has gone on for years: Dex­ter Fletch­er came up as a poten­tial direc­tor, and for the role of Mer­cury both Ben Wishaw and Sacha Baron Cohen have at dif­fer­ent times been attached. But now the film has entered pro­duc­tion, hav­ing found a direc­tor in Bryan Singer, he of the X‑Men fran­chise, and a star in Rami Malek, best known as the lead in the tele­vi­sion series Mr. Robot.

But can Malek — or indeed any­one cur­rent­ly liv­ing — con­vince as Mer­cury? The first piece of evi­dence has sur­faced in the form of the clip at the top of the post, shot on set as the cast recre­ates Queen’s 1985 come­back per­for­mance at Live Aid. The band “seemed to intu­it right from the start the impor­tance of the day, though they were very ner­vous back­stage.

But once onstage they com­plete­ly own it, even more so Fred­die Mer­cury who ris­es to the occa­sion as a front man and as a singer, giv­ing one of his best per­for­mances,” writes Ted Mills of the real con­cert video, which we fea­tured just this past May here on Open Cul­ture. The show opens by going straight into“Bohemian Rhap­sody,” Queen’s sig­na­ture eight-minute rock opera, which gives the new movie its work­ing title.

Even going by just a minute and a half of footage, shot shak­i­ly, in low res­o­lu­tion, and at a dis­tance, it must be said that Malek does look to make an uncan­ny Mer­cury, right down to that dis­tinc­tive jog onto the stage at Wem­b­ley Sta­di­um. In the Late Show with Stephen Col­bert clip just above, Malek talks about his expe­ri­ence watch­ing the sur­viv­ing mem­bers of Queen watch his per­for­mance as Mer­cury for the first time — and at the icon­ic Abbey Road Stu­dios, no less. “How did they take you?” Col­bert asks. “They took me,” Malek responds, leav­ing us to wait until Decem­ber of next year to judge for our­selves how he brings their beloved lead singer back to life — and whether, by what­ev­er com­bi­na­tion of train­ing and tech­no­log­i­cal wiz­ardry, the film gets it right down to that one-of-a-kind voice.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Queen’s Stun­ning Live Aid Per­for­mance: 20 Min­utes Guar­an­teed to Give You Goose Bumps (July 15, 1985)

Sci­en­tif­ic Study Reveals What Made Fred­die Mercury’s Voice One of a Kind; Hear It in All of Its A Cap­pel­la Splen­dor

Queen Doc­u­men­tary Pays Trib­ute to the Rock Band That Con­quered the World

Watch Behind-the-Scenes Footage From Fred­die Mercury’s Final Video Per­for­mance

The Mak­ing of Queen and David Bowie’s 1981 Hit “Under Pres­sure”: Demos, Stu­dio Ses­sions & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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