Despite receiving critical acclaim and an Academy Award nomination for his transformative role as Freddie Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody actor Rami Malek is currently in the news for another reason. The actor has recently been questioned for working with controversial director Bryan Singer, who served as the Queen biopic's director until his dismissal mid-way through production. Though Singer was replaced with actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher, who oversaw the film's completion, the movie has still been marred by controversy.
Singer has directed numerous big-budget movies, most famously The Usual Suspects and the X-Men series, but his illustrious career has been plagued with accusations of sexual assault. Reports of inappropriate behaviour between Singer and underage boys have mounted since 1997. Singer has never been found guilty of any of his alleged crimes, however more accusations are being reported.
When asked by The Los Angeles Times about his relationship with Singer, Malek said:
"I didn’t know much about Bryan. I think that the allegations and things were, believe it or not, honestly something I was not aware of, and that is what it is. Who knows what happens with that … but I think somehow we found a way to persevere through everything that was thrown our way."
He went on to say: "As far as I knew, I was considered before Bryan was even attached. So I had my head down preparing for this for about a year ahead of time, and I never really looked up."
Singer was fired by 20th Century Fox three weeks before the end of Bohemian Rhapsody's production amid fresh abuse allegations. It was also reported that during the film's production Singer clashed with Malek and his fellow actors. The trouble began when Singer went missing from the set on numerous occasions, resulting in cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel having to step in.
Tom Hollander, who plays Queen manager Jim Beach, reportedly briefly quit the film because of Singer's behaviour, but was later convinced to return. Malek is said to have complained to the studio, accusing Singer of not being on set, unprofessionalism, and unreliability. However, in a statement issued soon after his dismissal, Singer said:
"Rumors that my unexpected departure from the film was sparked by a dispute I had with Rami Malek are not true. While, at times, we did have creative differences on set, Rami and I successfully put those differences behind us and continued to work on the film together until just prior to Thanksgiving."
Regarding the most recent accusations of sexual abuse, Singer said in a statement to Deadline:
"The last time I posted about this subject, Esquire magazine was preparing to publish an article written by a homophobic journalist who has a bizarre obsession with me dating back to 1997. After careful fact-checking and, in consideration of the lack of credible sources, Esquire chose not to publish this piece of vendetta journalism.
"That didn’t stop this writer from selling it to The Atlantic. It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits ... And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success."
Despite the controversy surrounding it, Bohemian Rhapsody has gone on to make millions at the box office, as well as receiving numerous awards. The film is currently up for five Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Malek.