Rami Malek loves what he is doing.
He loves acting, and this film, and he loves Freddie. He loves Freddie Mercury so much. Portraying this beautiful man, who was absolutely gorgeous in his difference, in his creativity and generosity and kindness. As well as his ability to be unapologetically himself, always. It's a treat to exude such self-confidence onstage, juxtaposed against a quiet nature off. To see other actors able to showcase such confidence without needing to play someone else, Joe being one, is a treat as well. Exuberant zany Joe is always laughing and able to make others laugh too-- today his targets are Ben and the crew, as they prepare for a scene in the office of Queen's manager. It's a late scene in the film, taking place before Live Aid, when Freddie is attempting to ask the band's forgiveness and knows that he is ill.
Rami himself feels rather ill currently. It's a lot, this job. No matter that he loves it. He manages to muster up a small smile as Ben bends Joe over, dipping him with an apple clenched in both of their mouths, a stress release and manifestation of zaniness both. Or that is how it seems as Gwil snaps a picture. Tom Hollander stands fixing his cufflinks and nodding in response to some notes the director has. He stands behind his desk, getting into the headspace of Miami Beach as Rami walks by. Tom's features are kind and understanding as his eyes light on Rami. The younger man fiddles with his sunglasses as the director catches Hollander's glance. "Malek," he says sharply, crooking his finger. "Come over here."
Rami's lips twist. His hand flutters down to his side, fingers tapping against the cloth of his jeans as he turns to Bryan Singer, feeling the weight of the steely stare of someone for whom nothing he does seems right the first time. Even when Singer himself is not present for the scene they are shooting and only appears afterwards to give a cursory look at the dailies. Barely a cursory look at times, it seems. Rami has dealt with various personalities on films before, but he hasn't met one quite so...grating. Yet he tries to smile and replies "Yes, Mister Singer?" As politely as he can.
That politeness is evidently wasted on the other man. "Why in the world are you walking about, go sit on the chair. No, stand in front of the desk. You've been a shit friend at this point, and you're dying, so act like it. Go on."
Rami's heart thumps and his breath hisses. He knows what Singer means about Freddie, but the tenor of his words and the words themselves make him retort without stopping to think "I know what I'm doing, sir. Without your needing to speak disrespectfully of Freddie."
The director's eyes narrow as he stalks closer to his leading man. "WHAT did you just say to me?"
The set is silent now. Ben's hands first rest on and then relinquish Joe's waist as he pulls him back upright. Joe holds the apple they had loosely in one hand, but his fingers tighten, knuckles now bulging as if he is going to chuck it at Singer's face. Ben's jaw works and he clenches one fist. Rami's heart thumps harder and harder as Hollander's brows crease where he stands behind the director's furious head. Rami's palms feel clammy but he persists "I know what I need to do, how I need to act and feel. But there's no need for you to speak of Freddie that way. I--" he draws himself up straight, breathing hard. "You, you can't. I won't let you."
"Let me? LET me? Who are you to let me?! I am your director!" Singer's voice is five times as loud as Rami's, echoing across the space and causing crew members to stop work and look up. The actor flushes with shame over the scene he and the director of their film are currently causing --so different from the scene they should create-- and his heart beats so hard it hurts. He wants to hide or run to his trailer but he will not do it. He cannot let this stand.
And that's when Rami feels a presence beside, looming next to him. Feels curls tickle the side of his face and sees the lean shadow as he hears the sharp steady voice of Gwilym Lee. "He's your leading man," Gwil's words are calm and firm and the sentiment behind them is unmistakable: "and he's our Freddie. We're not working like that, like Fred's a shit friend." Rami looks up as Gwil's arm wraps around him. "He's a good person going through an abysmal time, and this is the scene where he says he is sorry." Gwilym rubs his palm up and down Rami's back over his shirt, under the leather jacket the other wears so that Rami can feel it. Bright blue eyes bore down into Singer's still-furious gaze and Gwil adds "...I think you may want to follow his example."