‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Oscar Nominee Rami Malek Says Working With Fired Director Bryan Singer Was ‘Not Pleasant’

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As talk of the 91st Academy Awards ramps up, Best Actor nominee Rami Malek is becoming more candid about the controversy surrounding the fired director of Bohemian Rhapsody, Bryan Singer. According to Salon, Malek told a panel at the Santa Barbara Film Festival that while he was unable to fully disclose details of the events that led to the production parting ways with the director, he did say that working with Singer was something of a challenge.

“In my situation with Bryan, it was not pleasant, not at all,” Malek said during a Q&A period with the audience. “And that’s about what I can say about it at this point. For anyone who is seeking any solace in all of this, Bryan Singer was fired. I don’t think that was something anyone saw coming but I think that had to happen and it did.”

The reasons given for the dismissal of a high-profile director like Singer in the middle of filming included frequent absences from the set – which he attributed to caring for a sick relative – and extremely erratic and volatile behavior. He reportedly had numerous conflicts with Malek over the actor’s depiction of late Queen singer Freddie Mercury. One of these on-set squabbles reportedly escalated to a point in which Singer threw film equipment at Malek while screaming at him.

Bryan Singer speaking
Director Bryan Singer speaking at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2015Featured image credit: Yuriko NakaoGetty Images

Singer is a bankable director with a long track record of helming Hollywood blockbusters, having directed four of the X-Men movies as well as The Usual Suspects and many others. But he is also no stranger to controversy, with a string of allegations of sexual misconduct going back over 20 years, often involving underage males. After wrapping his 1997 film Apt Pupil, Singer was sued over accusations he filmed nude underage actors for a shower scene in that film without parental permission.

The day after Bohemian Rhapsody garnered five Oscar nods, including Malek’s Best Actor nomination and one for Best Picture, new sexual misconduct allegations came out regarding Singer. For his part, Malek claims he was unaware of the director’s history until after he had been fired.

“As far as I knew, I was considered before Bryan was even attached,” Malek said. “So I had my head down preparing for this for about a year ahead of time, and I never really looked up. I didn’t know much about Bryan. I think that the allegations and things were, believe it or not, honestly something I was not aware of, and that is what it is.”

Even in the wake of the well-publicized conflicts on the set of Bohemian Rhapsody, not to mention the ongoing sexual misconduct accusations, Singer continues to land high-profile gigs; next up is Red Sonja, complete with a $10 million payday for the director. Millennium Films released a statement in late January saying Singer is still attached to direct.

The Academy Awards ceremony airs on Sunday, February 24.