Rami Malek is ready to play the game of Bond, James Bond.
In a new interview with U.K.-based Digital Spy, the Bohemian Rhapsody actor is letting the public in on his approach to playing the villain in the eagerly anticipated (and still unnamed) Bond 25. Plus, he sounded off on all those rumors circulating about production problems in the wake of 007 star Daniel Craig injuring his ankle on set in Jamaica and having to undergo minor ankle surgery.
When asked if he's feeling the heat to live up to franchise expectations and create a worthy foe for the superspy, especially after taking home the Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic, Malek expressed confidence he could do it. After all, he's been in this pressure-cooker situation before.
"I feel a substantial weight on my shoulders. I mean, Bond is something that we all grow up with," he told the site. "The one thing I have going for me is I played one beloved Brit in Freddie Mercury and I pulled that off, so I feel like I can possibly have a shot at playing the villain in a Bond film."
As to the nationality of Bond's new arch-enemy, Malek wouldn't answer whether he's British. But he's certainly won't be Egyptian mirroring the thespian's real-life heritage — and with good reason.
"No, absolutely not," Malek declared. "Another thing that I discussed with [director] Cary [Fukunaga]: I said we cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That’s not something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice then you can count me out. But that was clearly not his vision."
With Craig out of commission for at least two weeks and forced to don an ankle boot, Bond 25 producers had to reshuffle the shooting schedule to work around the actor's rehabilitation. Malek revealed they handled the challenge with ease. That's a good thing considering Malek is pulling double duty, having "the luxury and privilege of going to work on the next James Bond film" during breaks from filming the fourth and final season of his critically acclaimed hit series, Mr. Robot.
While he acknowledged that juggling the two shoots "is very, very taxing," he said he's "pinching" himself that he gets to work with such amazing collaborators and have the opportunity to make his own mark on Bond history.
After Craig's mishap, rumors swirled that the actor might have to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. But Malek dismissed talk that the production is "cursed" given the movie's director debacle and now Craig's injury, revealing he's already shot a week on the movie in Norway and so far so good.
He also swatted down rumors that key scenes in the movie between him and Craig would not be filmed.
"I haven’t shot with Daniel yet, but I’m thrilled to work with him,” he said. "The key scenes is something that was fabricated. But the thing is, Daniel was injured, so they are shooting what they can. I talked to Cary yesterday and the schedule has been altered. I know that. But with a franchise like this, I think they have it together. They have it figured out by now."
Minor ankle injuries delaying production on blockbusters seems to be an ongoing issue these days. Just look at Tom Cruise, who busted up his ankle while shooting stunts for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, forcing producers to call a two-month timeout so he could heal. But in fact, writer-director, Christopher McQuarrie has said the downtime benefitted that film as he was able to fine-tune the script.
So if anyone can stick 007's landing, it's the franchise's veteran producing team of Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson.
No word yet on the villain's name or what nefarious plot fans can expect from him that will shake up Craig's martini-swilling superspy. But Rami had nothing but props to the screenwriters for carrying on the Bond tradition.
"It’s another extremely clever script from the people who have figured out exactly what people want in those movies," he added. "And yeah, it’s a great character. I am very excited. I can’t wait to shoot more soon."
Bond 25 is slated to hit theaters on April 8, 2020.