Rami Malek's Road to Oscar

Remi Malek as Freddie Mercury

Remi Malek as Freddie Mercury

Remi Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury certainly is remarkable and his Oscar for Best Actor is probably well deserved.

Did you know Remi would include his headshot and resume with the pizzas he used to deliver when he first started his struggle to make a career in Los Angeles?

Futhermore, since he was agent-less in a town where you have to have an agent to get called into professional auditions, he listed his own telephone number as his fictitious agent.

One day he got a call, inquiring as to whether he was available to come in for a small role in a TV series. It was not long before the casting director on the other end of the phone realized she was speaking to Remi himself.

After some apologies and a little gumption by Remi, who admitted his ploy but asked to be allowed to audition even though he was non-union and agent-less, he got the role. The casting director was impressed with Remi’s creative self-marketing and honest ambition.

This story comes from a fine interview with Malek on NPR’s Fresh Air by Terry Gross. Listen to the whole thing, it’s worth it.

As a first generation American of immigrant Egyptian parents, Malek connected with Mercury’s own cultural complexities as an Iranian in England. It fueled his sense of Mercury as a complete original. Malek is certainly no “standard” Hollywood leading man himself, to say the least.

As a first generation American of Chinese immigrant parents, I also connect with those who not only face the daunting task of “making it” in show business, but feel even more an outsider by virtue of one’s heritage.

What is important is that Malek landed the role after much doubt from the studio and producers because he was ready to land the role. All the pizza deliveries and hustling in Hollywood would not have meant anything if Malek had not also been doggedly dedicated to his craft.

I have always suspected that it is not about how hard it is to land the job, but rather how most people are not ready for the role when they get their foot in the door. Malek did some interesting things to get in, but once in, he delivered. That’s the key.

Train, train, train, O actor, because it is the only thing you really can control in your career.