Rami Malek: The Untold Truth Behind His Success

The untold truth about actor Rami Malek! These are the little-known details of the Egyptian performer’s rise from a student in theater class to one of the brightest stars in Hollywood today.

Twin Brother

Though Rami Malek is a first-generation American and the only member of his family to break into Hollywood, he isn’t an only child. His older sister, Yasmine, is a medical doctor that works in the emergency room. He also has a brother, named Sami, who works as an ESL and English teacher. But a similar name isn’t all Rami shares with his brother…the pair are actually twins!

Older by just four minutes, Rami and his brother look nearly identical with Rami’s more svelte physique being the chief difference between the two.

Their indistinguishable good looks made the pair a handful in their youth, as the two Malek brothers would often cause trouble by pretending to be one another. In college, for example, Rami once stood in for Sami to recite a Greek monologue in class…a requirement Sami needed to pass in order to graduate. Rami’s performance was so good that it caught the professor off guard considering it was a 180-degree turn from Sami’s typical work in the class.

Nonetheless, the professor even requested an encore for a later class! Sami got to return the favor years later, though, when at an after party for an awards show, he graciously accepted all the praise from strangers looking to complement his famous brother. Over time, it will be interesting to see what other shenanigans and hijinks this pair of troublemaking twins can come up with.

Tough Break

Making the leap from the school stage to being a professional, on-set actor doesn’t come overnight for most actors, and Malek was no different. Immediately after college, Malek would move to New York to find work, sharing a one bedroom apartment with various other tenants looking to make it in show business. While chasing his acting dreams, Malek wound up working in a number of jobs within the food industry to make ends meet. Some of his jobs included delivering pizza and working at a falafel and shawarma shops.

To make matters tougher, Malek worked these jobs all while possessing a college degree! Making the most of his situation, though, the actor would use his delivery routes to get his name out, attaching a headshot to the pizza boxes destined for anyone he thought might be in the industry.

He tried this for years until one fateful day, it actually worked out. One customer finally contacted him and by the next day, he had joined the Screen Actors Guild. But the journey didn’t immediately improve as many of Malek’s first roles would end up being cut down for a number of reasons. Parts he had landed in films like 2012’s The Master and 2013’s Oldboy were shortened significantly, slowing his ascent to stardom in the process. Though the latter example was eventually made up to him as director Spike Lee would cast him once more for the crowd-funded 2014 movie Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

Mr. Robot

When the casting for Mr. Robot first began, the show’s screenwriter, Sam Esmail, had struggled to find the right person for the main part after witnessing more than 100 actors audition. Ready to rewrite the script and main character entirely, Esmail was stopped in his tracks after viewing Malek’s performance. Upon seeing the audition, Esmail admitted the actor’s interpretation made him realize who the character “really was”.

The show, which revolves around the life of a psychologically unstable hacker, would go on to debut in June of 2015 on the USA Network. In preparing for the part, Malek met with a psychiatrist to further his understanding of the various mental and social disorders his character would endure. This ended up paying off huge as his work was immediately met with critical acclaim.

This role would become a hit as publications like Entertainment Weekly would refer to Malek’s “magnetic performance” as the “best reason” to watch Mr. Robot. He received a bevy of award nominations and won both the Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

The latter award was history-making as Malek was not only the first non-white actor to win an Emmy in that category in 18 years, but he was also the first ever Egyptian-American to win an Emmy for acting!

Stereotypical Roles

Prior to his widespread commercial success thanks to Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek was often left taking roles that played more towards his heritage than his ability. Some of his early roles on television shows like Gilmore Girls and Medium didn’t address Malek’s Middle Eastern origins, but others made full use of his relation.

In the show Over There, the actor was cast as an Iraqi prisoner held captive by U.S. troops. In the single episode in which he appears, Malek’s character is mistreated and interrogated, acting as a representative for the horrors of combat before turning around and becoming a shallow extremist interpretation in a later scene. His part in the 8th season of 24 saw him playing a similar role as an extremist with an explosive strapped to his chest, again playing the unflattering anti-American villain. His parts in the Night at the Museum franchise would take on a lighter themed stereotype, but a stereotype nonetheless, when the Egyptian actor took on the part of King Ahkmenrah, a mummified pharaoh contained within the fictional museum.

While this role definitely helped him become a more common face in the mainstream, Malek thankfully has received well-rounded roles where his heritage and culture is a component, and not the entirety, of his identity.

Game Star

Malek has made his mark both on television and in film, but the wide-eyed young actor has ventured into a third medium most actors have yet to touch: video games! The actor first made his foray into the gaming scene with Halo 2, working as an uncredited voice actor for a variety of side characters in 2004. Eight years later, he would return for The Legend of Korra video game, where he provided the voice for the character Tahno, reprising a role from the show of the same name.

A year later though, Malek landed a role that took the medium to a whole new level. With 2015’s Until Dawn, Malek was among a small collection of actors to not just provide voice-overs to the game, but their likeness as well. The video game models the horror genre of films with a premise set in a wintery cabin where a group of young adults must survive a harrowing night among monsters.

Appearing alongside Malek were actors like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Brett Dalton, American Gods star Peter Stormare, and Heroes’ star Hayden Panettiere. Along with its innovative use of actors, Until Dawn was praised for its gameplay, storyline, and all around experience, earning fifteen separate award nominations and taking home the award for Best Horror Game at the Global Game Awards. One of the games massive highlights was the “Butterfly Effect” in which every choice made with the game’s eight characters, including Malek’s role of Joshua, would lead to different possible scenarios, making the potential of the game’s story seemingly limitless.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek nabbed one big fish when he landed the role of Freddie Mercury in the 2018 Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. One of the most commercially successful films in 2018, the movie garnered a massive 844 million dollars in box office revenue after filming with a budget of just 50 million dollars. While Queen and the late, iconic legend Mercury are a huge reason behind the project’s success, it didn’t hurt that Malek delivered on his end with flying colors. Receiving widespread critical acclaim, Malek’s performance was praised for its accuracy, bravado, and dedication to the source material.

To ready himself for this role of a lifetime, Malek enlisted the help of a dialect coach, a movement coach, a piano teacher, and a vocal instructor. He moved to London and studied Mercury’s movements and behavior for 4 hours a day, closely examining videos like Queen’s 1985 Live Aid concert which Malek watched over 1,500 times on YouTube! To top off the difficulty of the experience, Malek had to learn to do all these things while wearing fake teeth, a prop used in the film to depict Mercury’s overbite.

Throughout the course of shooting the film, Malek’s performance became so close to the singer’s actual behavior that even Mercury’s old bandmates were fooled. Queen guitarist Brian May has said on record that this portrayal of Freddie Mercury was so spot on that they “sometimes forgot he was Rami.”

Lucy Boynton

His experience on the set of Bohemian Rhapsody was undoubtedly life-changing, but Malek found more than a role he could sink his teeth into. Shortly after shooting wrapped in 2017, Malek was spotted alongside his co-star Lucy Boynton at a number of red carpet events, starting with a party for the ALEXA CHUNG Fantastic collection in January of 2018.

These appearances didn’t raise any flags to the onlooking public though, as the two still weren’t considered an item when they were seen attending a Super Bowl party a month later. It wasn’t until April that Us Weekly published the details, confirming with an unnamed source that the two met on set during the filming of Bohemian Rhapsody and that Malek was head over heels for the starlet.

These reports went largely unsupported until a Louis Vuitton and Virgil Abloh London event prompted an appearance from the couple who were much closer than before on the red carpet. Malek himself didn’t even discuss their relationship until a year later at the Palm Springs International Film Festival this past January.

He accepted a Breakthrough Performance Award at the festival and during his speech made sure to mention Boynton. Malek remarked to the crowd, “Thank you, Lucy Boynton. You have been my ally, my confidant, my love. Thank you so much.” Since then, the couple appeared hand-in-hand at the Golden Globes, the Critic’s Choice Awards, the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, the BAFTA Awards, and the Oscars, blatantly letting their love be known by all.

Bittersweet Oscar

The 2019 Academy Awards were a night to remember for Malek, who left a lasting impression when he took home the Oscar for Best Actor thanks to his role in Bohemian Rhapsody. But winning the award wasn’t the only surprise in store for Malek. After the awards show went off the air, the actor took a nasty tumble off the stage, prompting nearby EMTs to rush in and check on his safety.

Luckily, Malek didn’t suffer any injuries and went on to enjoy the festivities of the night, beginning with popping open a bottle of champagne in the Oscars engraving room. The success and recognition of his performance have already begun shifting his career into overdrive as Malek was just recently announced to be in final negotiations for a prized role as the next James Bond villain.