On his way to the Oscar podium, Malek picked up similar wins for his role as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and the SAG Awards. This is Malek’s first Oscar.
Upon accepting his statuette, the actor thanked his family and cast and crew as well as “the Academy, and to the people who took a chance on me every step of the way.”
“I may not have been the obvious choice, but I guess it worked out,” Malek joked. He thanked Queen for letting him be “the tiniest part of your phenomenal legacy. I am forever in your debt.”
Malek also had a few words for his younger self. “I think about what it would have been like to tell little bubba Rami that one day this might happen to him, and I think his curly-haired mind would have been blown. That kid was struggling with his identity,” he said, adding that for anyone struggling with that, “we made a film about a gay man and an immigrant who was unapologetically himself.”
Malek continued, “[It’s] proof we’re longing for stories like this. Part of my story is being written right now, and I could not be more grateful.”
During his speech, the Mr. Robot star did not mention the film’s director, Bryan Singer, who was fired from the Bohemian Rhapsody set for erratic behavior and who has had several allegations of sexual abuse made against him. (Singer denies the allegations.)
Speaking backstage, Malek continued his onstage sentiments: “My sister was born in Egypt. I think when I grew up as a kid, part of me felt like I had to shed some of that. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I definitely felt like the outsider. As I grew up, I realized how beautiful my heritage is … now, I am so privileged to represent it.
“I never thought this would happen in my life. The one thing I can say about this is, as an actor, and there are so many of us that dream of one thing — it’s just getting a job. So the fact that I have this in my hand right now, is beyond an expectation that myself or perhaps my family could have ever had,” said Malek, getting emotional. “This has been a tough battle, I think you all know about that, and the fact that I’m back here, is proof that anything can be overcome.”