As Bohemian Rhapsody has become a mainstay on the current awards circuit, the film’s cast and producers have deftly steered clear of directly addressing the elephant in the room: the fact that the film’s director, Bryan Singer, was fired during production. But now star and potential Best Actor Oscar winner Rami Malek has broken his silence about the Singer of it all, admitting that his experience on set was not pleasant.
Singer was fired with only weeks to go before filming wrapped, but reports swirled that he and Malek had butted heads throughout production. Singer allegedly has a reputation for not showing up to set on his films, as reportedly happened multiple times on X-Men: Apocalypse, and he was issued an ultimatum by 20th Century Fox for Bohemian Rhapsody: show up to work and don’t do anything illegal, or you’re out.
The specific details regarding Singer’s exit from Bohemian Rhapsody are a bit sketchy, but we do know he was fired, and reports claimed that he had not shown up to set for days. Singer pushed back in public, releasing a statement saying he had to fly back to the United States to care for a sick parent. He did not return to set, and Dexter Fletcher stepped in to direct the last few weeks of filming. Reports also suggested that Singer’s DP Newton Thomas Siegel directed portions of the film when Singer was absent.
On top of all of this, there’s renewed interest surrounding Singer’s alleged sexual misconduct. Singer has been the subject of sexual misconduct rumors for decades, dating back to the 1998 film Apt Pupil, for which Singer was hit with a lawsuit alleging he and other members of the production forced underage boys to disrobe for a shower scene. No criminal charges were filed, but last month The Atlantic published a long-anticipated piece with new and graphic allegations of sexual misconduct at the hands of Singer.
Which has made the total refusal of the Bohemian Rhapsody cast and producers to so much as utter Singer’s name a bit weird. So when asked by THR about the claims regarding Singer’s sexual misconduct at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival recently, Malek finally addressed the issue head-on:
“My heart goes out to anyone who has to live through anything like what I’ve heard and what is out there,” Malek told the audience at Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theatre. “It’s awful, it’s remarkable that this happens, I can appreciate so much what they’ve been through and how difficult this must be for them. In the light of the #MeToo era that this somehow seems to exist after that, it’s a horrible thing.”
Malek also briefly addressed his personal experience with Singer:
Pivoting to his own experience with the director, the star said he found it difficult to talk about because he didn’t want to take away from the focus on [Freddie] Mercury and Queen, but said he doesn’t “want anyone to not feel like they can share their story.”
“I’ve sat here and talked about how everyone deserves a voice and anyone who wants to talk about what happened with Bryan deserves to have their voice heard,” Malek said. “In my situation with Bryan, it was not pleasant, not at all. And that’s about what I can say about it at this point.”
A visibly emotional Malek paused while the audience applauded, and then added, “For anyone who is seeking any solace in all of this, Bryan Singer was fired. Bryan Singer was fired, I don’t think that was something anyone saw coming but I think that had to happen and it did.”
Fox, or whoever is running Bohemian Rhapsody’s awards campaign, has kept a very short leash on Singer thus far, who hasn’t spoken out in the midst of the film’s awards success save for a now-deleted Instagram post celebrating the film’s Golden Globes win. It can’t be ignored that Singer did direct the bulk of Bohemian Rhapsody, and was potentially even involved in post-production, but good on Malek for finally speaking out.