Rami Malek is currently making waves as the lead actor in the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. He just scooped an Oscar for Best Actor thanks to his epic portrayal of the Queen front man, so it looks as though Malek is going to be on our radars for a long time yet.
Before starring in the hit movie, Malek became well-known to audiences everywhere after starring as Elliott Alderson in the hit thriller series Mr. Robot. But there’s still plenty of things that we don’t know about the Egyptian-American actor, who has been popping up in plenty of films and TV programmes since the early 2000s.
In the article below, we’ve brought you 23 things you (probably) didn’t know about Rami Malek.
23. He has a twin brother named Sami
You might well do a double take when you see Rami and his brother together!
That’s because Rami has an identical twin named Sami. Apparently Sami Malek is four minutes younger than his famous brother, and you can definitely see just how alike they look. Check out this photo from a few years ago:
Rami once revealed in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel that he and his brother used to take full advantage of the fact that they looked exactly alike as teenagers to get into some serious trouble!
One time in high school, Sami had to perform a Greek monologue in order to get enough extra credit to graduate. So he and Rami swapped places and the Oscar winner successfully saved his brother from failing high school!
The pair got away with the stunt and that was that. Sami now works as a teacher, but he can often be seen with his twin brother at parties and other events.
Maybe Sami occasionally fills in for Rami when the actor is tired from a long day filming?! Who knows with these two…
22. His first language is Arabic
Rami Malek is a well-known Egyptian-American actor.
Malek is a first-generation immigrant and his parents both worked in Egypt for several years before deciding to make it in America. Although Rami was born in Los Angeles, he was raised in the language of his parents – Arabic.
Malek grew up speaking Arabic until he started school at the age of four years old. His late father was determined that his children would never forget their roots and often woke Rami and his siblings in the middle of the night to speak to their relatives in Samalut, Egypt. Although he is no longer fluent in his mother tongue, Malek still holds interviews in Arabic.
Many people claimed online that Malek had made history in 2019 when he became the first ever actor of Arab descent to win the coveted Oscar for Best Actor.
However, Malek is actually a ‘Copt’ – a member of the Egyptian Christian community that actively maintains a distinct identity from Muslim Egyptians.
Many Copts also reject Arab identity, so it remains to be seen whether Malek will embrace this particular accolade or not.
21. He went to school with Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Bilson
Malek grew up in Los Angeles, and he’s rubbed shoulders with more than his fair share of actors in the past.
Growing up in Sherman Oaks, California, Malek attended Notre Dame High School, and his classmates included none other than actresses Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Bilson. Malek and his brother Sami were in the same class as Bilson.
Dunst also revealed that she was in the year above Rami, but that they shared the same musical theatre class. The actress said that Rami was “the biggest flirt” back in the day!
Unfortunately, despite the fact that he clearly enjoyed the attention of the ladies in high school, Malek found growing up in America quite difficult from time to time. In fact, it was only when he got to high school that he found the confidence to embrace his identity and tell people that they were pronouncing his name wrong.
The actor explained: “It only took me till high school where I found the confidence to tell everybody, no, my name is Rami. It’s a very upsetting thing to think about, that I didn’t have the confidence to correct anyone at that point.”
Luckily it was in high school that his love of acting first flourished.
20. He used to make shawarma and falafel sandwiches for a living
Like many other famous actors, Malek had to go through his fair share of troubles early on.
The Egyptian-American definitely went through his very own ‘struggling actor’ phase, and reportedly thought about packing it all in and becoming an estate agent after a year and a half of failing to find consistent work.
Malek moved to New York after graduating from college and lived in a one-bedroom apartment with some of his other friends. He quickly had to find odd jobs to pay rent and support himself.
Apparently Malek worked as a pizza delivery boy in NYC, and also got a job making shawarma and falafel sandwiches at a restaurant in Los Angeles.
The actor also told Jimmy Fallon that his first ever summer job was working as a caterer’s assistant. He didn’t quite excel in the role after serving a group of doctors some lasagna that he’d accidentally dropped on the hospital floor beforehand.
Oops! It’s crazy to think that Malek is now an Oscar winner.
19. His parents really didn’t want him to become an actor
Malek often brings along his family members to various awards ceremonies.
So it’s all the more surprising to learn that his mother and father really weren’t keen on their son Rami becoming an actor. When Rami was still in high school, his parents dreamed of young Malek becoming a lawyer – so he joined the debate team to please them.
In a magazine interview, Malek recalled that his parents wanted him to pursue a career in law or medicine, in order to “achieve a good financial and social status”. But despite joining the debate club, Rami himself was “crazy and stubborn” and decided to study fine arts and theatre.
However, his father gave Rami his blessing when he saw his son performing in a one-man school play entitled Zooman and the Sign. Malek once stated: “On stage I’m having this moment with my dad with a bunch of other people [in the audience], but then I thought, wow, something really special is happening here.”
Malek recalled that this was the only time he ever saw his father growing emotional, and thus Rami realised that he was now free to pursue his acting dream.
Malek also has an older sister named Yasmine who works as an ER doctor – she chose a more traditional route!
18. His first ever acting job was on Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls has hosted some future award winners over the years.
Melissa McCarthy famously played Sookie in the series, while future Heroes and This Is Us star Milo Ventimiglia starred as Jesse. But the WB show also turned out to be Malek’s first ever professional acting job!
The minor appearance turned out to be a massive lifeline for Malek, who was contacted by a producer at Gilmore Girls after a year and a half of constant failure to obtain roles in the world of acting.
Not long after his appearance in the show, Malek began to get more TV work and even ended up playing the recurring character Marcos Al-Zacar on the eighth season of 24.
Malek definitely has a lot to thank Gilmore Girls for!
17. He went to live in Argentina after starring in The Pacific
Malek received critical acclaim for his role in The Pacific.
He played ‘Snafu’ Shelton, a cocky Cajun soldier whose friendship with his fox hole buddy Sledge proved to be one of the highlights of the series. But apparently Malek found the whole experience less enjoyable and the role took its toll on the actor, whose on-screen counterpart famously loses more and more of his humanity as the series goes on.
In fact, filming for The Pacific was so intense that the experience caused Malek to temporarily leave Hollywood and go to live in Argentina for a brief period
During filming, Malek lost a lot of weight – producer Tom Hanks wanted Malek to retain 6 to 8 percent body fat for his role. Furthermore, the actor began to identify too closely with his character, which led to “some pretty intense mental anguish during and after filming”.
The actor went to Argentina to find some inner peace but apparently the trip was unsuccessful. Malek returned to Hollywood and has since claimed that he has found ‘healthier’ ways to deal with emotional anguish.
The role must have been worth it in the end, because Hanks was so impressed with Malek’s performance that he cast the young actor in his 2011 film Larry Crowne.
16. He beat Kevin Spacey and Bob Odenkirk to win an Emmy for his role in Mr. Robot
Malek has basically helped to make Mr. Robot what it is today.
In the highly-rated series, Malek plays the role of Elliott Alderson, a hacker who ends up joining an anonymous group of hacktivists called “Mr Robot”. Malek eventually won an Emmy for his performance in 2016.
This achievement marked the first time in 18 years that a non-white actor took home the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
It was certainly a tough category – Malek went up against Kevin Spacey in House of Cards and Bob Odenkirk from Better Call Saul. The actor also received nominations for Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
His performance as Alderson also earned him a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. The critics certainly do enjoy watching Malek!
Now he has an Oscar to his name as well…
15. He has had minor roles in huge franchises such as Twilight
GQ Middle East once described Malek’s face as ‘vampiric’.
So it’s quite appropriate that one of Malek’s early big screen roles was in the hugely popular vampire franchise Twilight. Remember him?! Malek appeared in Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012) as the Egyptian vampire Benjamin.
This was a role that really helped introduce Malek to a wider audience – and his brief but mesmerising performance didn’t go unnoticed by casting directors.
Pretty soon, Malek began to appear in a whole host of other popular franchises. Night At the Museum fans will definitely remember the Egyptian-American’s appearance in all three movies that made up the series.
The actor starred (somewhat appropriately) as Pharaoh Ahkmenrah, a role which endeared him to a younger audience.
This was one of his most commercially successful roles before taking on Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
14. He’s a hugely talented voice actor
Most fans of the actor might not realise that he’s also a hugely talented voice actor.
In fact, Malek made waves in the world of gaming long before he was being touted as a potential Oscar winner. If you ever played the survival horror game Until Dawn back in 2015 then you’ll definitely be familiar with Malek’s talents.
The future award winner lent both his voice and likeness to the character of Josh in Until Dawn – Josh was a main character whom users were actually able to play as at one point in the game.
The actor was fully motion-captured for the game. It’s not the only time that Malek has turned to games as a way to make some money – he also voiced the character of Tahno in Legend of Korra.
Plus fans of the Netflix animated comedy will definitely be familiar with Malek’s distinctive voice – he played the role of Flip McVicker for 10 episodes from 2017 to 2018.
He’s definitely been a busy guy in recent years!
13. He refused to answer an e-mail from Robert Downey Jr. because he thought it was a fake account
Oops! This is one hilarious gaffe…
Apparently Robert Downey Jr. is a massive admirer of Malek’s work. The Iron Man star even once stated: “Everyone should be studying this guy. That’s the actor everybody wants to emulate. Folks want to get an ounce of what he has in his DNA.”
Wow! That’s high praise indeed from a Hollywood legend. Unfortunately, while the pair seem to be on good terms now, Malek once got off to a very rocky start with Downey Jr.
Downey Jr. sent Malek an e-mail asking him to work on a project, but the star of Bohemian Rhapsody assumed that it was a fake account and kept ignoring the mysterious spam e-mails.
Malek did reveal that Downey signs off his e-mails ‘Hollywood icon’ which might explain why he thought it was a fake account.
12. He kept his Freddie Mercury dentures and had them cast in gold
Malek recently won an Oscar for his performance as Freddie Mercury.
While some people aren’t huge fans of the movie as a whole, Malek definitely shone as the Queen frontman and everyone agrees that he’s a top-class actor who basically stole the show.
And the actor must have felt very attached to his on-screen counterpart, because Malek revealed that he had recently had his Freddie dentures cast in gold.
Malek was required to wear fake teeth throughout most of his performance as Freddie and apparently grew very attached to them! Unfortunately, there were some aspects of Mercury’s character that Malek couldn’t fully identify with.
Mercury was a notorious cat lover, whereas Malek is actually allergic to certain breeds of cat. This actually influenced an important decision on the set of Mr. Robot.
‘Qwerty’ aka Elliott’s pet fish, was originally supposed to be a cat, until producers found out about Malek’s allergies and decided to play it safe.
11. He’s dating one of his Bohemian Rhapsody co-stars
Malek is notoriously private when it comes to his personal life.
But he recently made a very bold statement at the 2019 Oscars when he showed up to the awards ceremony with his Bohemian Rhapsody co-star Lucy Boynton on his arm. The actor previously confirmed that the two were dating during an awards acceptance speech in Palm Springs.
And it looks as though the pair are looking for a permanent base in London. Malek revealed that he is currently searching for a home in the British capital after “falling in love” with the city while filming Bohemian Rhapsody.
This isn’t the first time that Malek has bagged himself a girlfriend based on one of his TV or movie roles.
Fans of Dr. Robot will know that Malek regularly appears on-screen opposite his co-star Christian Slater. Well apparently Malek dated Slater’s step-daughter for a short time after being introduced to her through the actor.
Nice! Can we co-star with Malek in something now please?
10. He’s passionate about diversity in the film industry
As an Egyptian-American, it’s no wonder that Malek is very passionate about diversity in the film industry.
And he has often spoken publicly about his issues with diversity in the Hollywood film industry. Apparently the actor is sick of empty words and wishes that directors and casting directors would ‘act upon’ the problem.
In an interview with TIME magazine, Malek said that he hoped “it’s not this year that diversity is a touchstone.” He is also extremely grateful that he was cast as the lead actor in a major TV show despite being non-white.
However, things haven’t always been so plain-sailing for Malek when it comes to the types of characters that he portrays on-screen.
In fact, after playing the part of a suicide bomber in 24, Malek instructed his agent never to send him acting jobs that portrayed Middle Eastern people or North Africans in a stereotypical way.
He’s definitely stuck to his guns and refused parts due to typecasting.
9. He despises social media
Malek is a private person, so it’s no wonder that he doesn’t like social media.
The actor has previously stated that he finds things like Twitter extremely impersonal: “We as a society have a hard time connecting with one another. We technically can do it, but are we really connecting?”
He has a professional account which the actor uses to connect with fans and to follow Mr. Robot. However, we’re guessing that he might have been contractually obliged to set this up.
The actor isn’t a fan of technology in general either – he barely uses his phone or computer anymore after working on Mr. Robot: “The more I’ve worked on this show, the more I refrain from getting on the computer or on my phone, because I realise just how fragile our information [is], and how susceptible it is to being compromised.”
Sounds as though he’s not exactly keen on tech or social media after starring in Mr. Robot! We’re guessing he’s not that into selfies or viral videos either.
We bet he’s glad he didn’t appear on Ellen‘s Oscars celeb selfie!
8. Malek also has some Greek heritage
Malek has a really rich and interesting heritage.
But did you know that alongside his clear Egyptian identity, Malek also has Greek heritage too? Apparently Malek is also 1/8th of Greek descent, and he’s not afraid to shout about it.
The actor once revealed that as well as his strong Coptic Egyptian DNA, he also has a little bit of Greek in him from somewhere down the line.
Apparently some of his ancestors were from the Greek Orthodox tradition. Wow!
He’s definitely got a very cool heritage to fall back on. We didn’t know about the Greek thing at all!
Still, the actor firmly identifies as an Egyptian-American, and he was the first Egyptian-American to win an Oscar in 2019.
7. His father used to be a tour guide in Cairo
Speaking of Egypt, Malek’s father had a very interesting profession back in his homeland.
Before emigrating to the USA, the actor’s father (whose name was Said) used to work as a tour guide in their home city of Cairo in the 1970s. The experience clearly had a strong impression on Said.
Apparently Malek’s parents made the decision to move to America in 1978 after Said himself became hugely interested in all of the Western visitors he was guiding around Cairo.
Said decided to transport himself and his family to California and live the American dream. His father found a new job selling insurance and his mother Nelly became an accountant.
Malek’s father sadly passed away before he could see his son triumph in the world of entertainment, but that didn’t stop Rami from mentioning his dad in his Oscars acceptance speech.
Rami’s middle name Said is also a nod to his father.
6. He only got his Screen Actors Guild card in 2005
It’s crazy to think just how far Malek has come over the course of his career.
He’s fresh off an Oscar win for Best Actor thanks to his dazzling portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. But as we’ve already seen, things weren’t always like this for Malek.
He definitely had to struggle to get where he is today, and in fact he was only awarded his Screen Actors Guild card in 2005. The actor gained admission after starring in the war drama Over There for two episodes.
In the same year, Malek also bagged himself an appearance on an episode of the series Medium starring Patricia Arquette. He was then awarded a full-time role on the comedy series The War at Home.
Malek played Kenny in the show, which ran for two seasons. In fact, Malek acted alongside one of his fellow Twilight co-stars in the series.
Jackson Rathbone (who plays bloodsucker Jasper) guest-starred opposite Malek in an episode of the show.
5. He spent hours and hours watching archive footage of Freddie Mercury
There’s no doubting Malek’s devotion to researching his characters.
And it seems as though the Bohemian Rhapsody star went into overdrive when it came to prepping for his portrayal of the iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. The actor previously confessed to watching hours and hours of archive footage of the singer.
Malek recently explained his preparation: “I watched all the archive footage you could ever find and I keep searching for more because I’m even more of a fan than I’ve ever been.”
“I really did look at him as a rock god, an icon for all of us. He did anything he wanted to do on stage. Just to capture that aspect of him was going to be a challenge. And I thought the only way to do it would be to have time.”
“If I had enough time, I was giving myself a fighting chance.” We’ll say! All that research definitely paid off in the end…
He’s since earned acting’s highest honour for his performance after all.
4. He also hired a dialect coach, a choreographer and a movement coach to prepare for Bohemian Rhapsody
Malek didn’t stop at watching video footage though.
Once he knew he had got the role, the actor flew to the UK and immediately started organising sessions with a range of different experts who would be able to help him bring Freddie Mercury to life for the big screen.
Malek said he told his agent: “‘I’m flying to London. I’m going to try and find some singing classes and some piano classes; I’ve never done any of those in my life. I need your help. I need a choreographer. I need a dialect coach.’”
He then added “[Freddie] had a very specific way of speaking. He had a very specific way of doing anything. I’m not a dancer and I knew I needed to be spontaneous. I looked at what Eddie Redmayne did in The Theory Of Everything and tried to find his.”
Sadly Alexandra Reynolds was unavailable so Malek worked with Polly Bennet instead “and within a day we were working on ballet moves.[Freddie] was very elegant in his footwork and he got a lot of that from Bob Fosse and Liza Minnelli, so we watched Cabaret quite a bit. At one point Polly [had] me do ‘Killer Queen’ as a Shakespearean soliloquy as performed by Marie Antoinette. Essentially, she was getting me to be as spontaneously Freddie as possible.
“To not mimic him in any way, or try to do an impersonation, so that I, in any moment, whether it be a straight scene or a concert, felt as though he was existing in my body, and it was all grounded in my physicality and my performance.”
3. 100 actors auditioned for Mr Robot before Malek got the part
This is pretty crazy when you think about it!
The fame that Malek acquired from the hit series Mr Robot very nearly didn’t happen for him at all. He was already up against a lot of competition when he went in to audition for the part. Screenwriter Sam Esmail was casting the role and had already seen over 100 actors!
Esmail got so desperate about finding the right actor that he actually considered re-writing the character altogether. Wow! Thankfully, Malek walked through the door and suddenly everything changed.
Esmail said Malek’s audition “opened my eyes to who Elliot really was.” The show premiered on the USA Network on June 24th, 2015 and met with critical praise.
USA Today called the role Malek’s ‘breakout performance’ and most other publications agreed with them. It definitely helped draw attention to Rami’s many talents as an actor.
It’s pretty cool that he beat 100 other actors to the role too.
2. He loves talking to strangers in the street
A lot of people seem to really like Malek for his charming persona.
He’s always lighting up the room during chat shows and who can resist that smile? Well it seems as though Malek has another winning quality too – the actor once admitted that he loves talking to strangers on the street!
Malek has publicly stated that he is the exact opposite of Elliot, the introverted and unstable hacker that he portrays in Mr. Robot. Instead the actor has gone on record to say that he loves connecting with people out on the streets of NYC.
He once confessed: “I’m an exuberant person. I thrive on affection. I like chitchat … One of the great things about living in New York is that you meet so many strangers—and I love encounters with strangers. … I love meeting people and hearing their stories.”
We’re definitely going to be prowling the streets of New York now thanks to Malek’s confession….we’d love to run into him ‘by accident’!
Although he is currently looking for a house in London…
1. He became a massive supporter of AIDS charities after his role in Bohemian Rhapsody
Freddie Mercury clearly had a very big impact on Malek.
Apparently in September 2018, the actor made the decision to start working with the (RED) organisation after being inspired by the life and untimely death of his on-screen counterpart.
Malek became an ambassador for the charity in order to raise some awareness around the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and he regularly uses his status to try and raise funds for the charity.
The actor travelled to Eswatini to “learn more about the state of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Did you know all of these facts about Rami Malek? Let us know in the comments section!
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