Rami Malek dropped the mustache and biker jacket to become the bad guy in Mourir Can Wait. In 2020, he was giving us a glimpse of his mysterious character.
First: I ran into you four years ago on a plane. You had just won an Emmy Award but, other than a flight attendant, no one seemed to recognize you. And again he referred to you as ” Mr. Robot’s guy. “
Rami malek : (Laughs.) ” Mr. Robot’s guy », I heard it a lot of times, that one!
Since then, you have grown from a niche series to international glory. No one would have bet on the success of Bohemian rhapsody, and even less on an Oscar …
Yes, I find it hard to put words into it. It is an extraordinary gift. (Long silence.) I am living a daydream. I suspect we have to tell you this all the time and it sounds like a big cliché, but in my case, it’s true. I received much more than I requested. I just wanted to work in this business on a regular basis. The idea of having a job once a year suited me very well. The role didn’t matter: if I made a decent living doing my job, I was going to be happy. The little extra would have been to be able to play in the theater from time to time. And now I find myself on the opposite side. I am blessed, what do you want me to tell you?
How does it feel to have the freedom to choose your roles?
Believe it or not, but I’m not in that position. (Silence.) Of course, I have the luxury of being able to refuse a lot of things. But it’s also not like I’m getting all the scripts from Hollywood.
The courier still has to pass more often.
Obviously. There are more opportunities, that’s for sure. It’s an amazing feeling … but I still can’t believe it’s true. The producers had already approached me for To die can wait before the Oscars, and I found it amazing that I was interested in this role. I was coming out of Bohemian rhapsody and I understood that the film seemed to be heading for success. But the thought of continuing with such a role in a franchise of this caliber, it blew me away. Besides, I still can’t believe it.
You accepted the role without being told too much about the character …
Yeah, I didn’t know much. But who would refuse to play the villain in a James bond ? It’s a no-brainer, no need to think.
Is it a source of anxiety to go a little blind?
I still haven’t seen the movie, I have no idea what it will look like! Okay, I’m sure it’s going to be extra special, it just feels in the trailer. But yes, I had concerns. It was a situation a bit similar to the one I experienced with Bohemian rhapsody. At the time, I said to myself: “ Accept, you’ll panic later. This film was an excellent preparation for James bond, both an extraordinary challenge and a tremendous accomplishment. I got out of it without too much damage and it helped me to have the necessary confidence for the future.
What is the process when you are contacted to star in a James Bond? How did producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson pitch the character to you?
I can’t say too much, but it was Barbara who came up to me. I have known her for years: she had seen me in States of Grace [sorti en 2013 aux États-Unis] and wanted to meet me. We had discussed and we said to ourselves that we would like to work together one day. I obviously didn’t think it would be for a James Bond … She came back afterwards Mr. Robot, because I think she felt that I had grown enough as an actor. Barbara works in a very special way, it’s almost secret-defense. Unable to receive the script by email, she delivered it to me in person. We had tea, I opened the envelope and saw those three numbers at the top …. And there I got goose bumps. 007. Wow.
The villain is about as important as 007 in the success of a James Bond movie. Did you have a clear idea of how you wanted to interpret it? The clichés that you absolutely had to avoid?
I definitely didn’t want to pet a cat, if that’s what you’re asking me. (Laughs.) In my head, it had to be an opponent like James Bond never saw. Let it be complicated all the time for 007, let him not have a break. I told myself that if I was going towards this, I would have done the job. (He thinks.) I was very, very aware of the choices I had to make to create as much tension and conflict as possible in this film.
What kind of choice are you talking about?
I can’t tell you anything. I just wanted the stakes and the pressure to go up a notch with each scene. How to create a tension which will crescendo? It was my obsession. And Cary Fukunaga is exceptional in this register. He is even one of the best.
You went back to the previous ones James bond to find your character?
Yes. I wanted to understand what really worked for them. And then I made sure to forget everything, because it didn’t make much sense in relation to my goal. In contrast, I studied as many movie villains as I could. What prompts them to act the way they do? They are all persuaded to do good in their own way, to be righteous. Sometimes it’s very convoluted, but I’m sure a good villain must think he’s on the right side of the story. Otherwise, it doesn’t have the same impact. In fact, what gives the chips as a spectator is understanding the bad guy. It is very disconcerting. And I hope I managed to produce that feeling in people.
How did the collaboration with Daniel Craig go? We can easily imagine that his charisma vampirizes a shoot.
I swear to you that the second we see him land on the set, his brain spins around, and we are convinced that this guy is a real MI6 agent with a big military background. Not the shadow of a doubt. When he wears the costume and you are in front of him, in the flesh, you have to catch your breath. I had to constantly make the effort to remember that I was not just a spectator. (Laughs.) And then … well, I did what I could to bring myself to his level!
To die can wait, October 6 at the cinema.
Cary Fukunaga – Dying can wait: “We must beware of Bondian clichés” [interview]