Rami Malek, who plays Freddie Mercury in the upcoming Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, dismissed the claim that the movie underplays the late singer’s sexuality.
The social media complaints seem to have started with screenwriter Bryan Fuller, who accused the film’s makers of “queer erasure” because a trailer showed Mercury flirting with a woman but not with any men. “Showing him romantic with a woman, but not a man (3 frames don’t count) is not a celebration of bisexual identity,” Fuller tweeted. “It’s hiding it.”
In an interview with Attitude magazine (via NME), Malek rejected the accusation. “It’s a shame that people are making remarks after a minute teaser where you just wanna see the music,” he said. “It’s difficult. First, let me say that I don’t think the film shies away from his sexuality or his all-consuming disease, which is obviously AIDS. I don’t know how you could avoid any of that, or if anyone would ever want to. It’s a bit absurd that anyone’s judging this from a minute trailer.”
He went on to say that Mercury’s health issues had to be approached in a “delicate manner.” “You can’t shy away from it,” he noted. “It was an important moment to have in the film, one that ultimately is very sad but also empowering in a way. It shows you just how resilient human beings can be and how much we rely on the strength of our friends and family to get us through tough times. This pandemic is still very much a horrific threat to so many people in the world. It exists as a reality for so many that I think it would be a shame not to address it.”
Bohemian Rhapsody opens on Nov. 2, following a premiere at London’s Wembley Arena, which is adjacent to the site of Wembley Stadium, where Queen delivered their unforgettable Live Aid performance in 1985.