Ever since Egyptian-American actor Rami Malek took on the role of the next James Bond villain, there has been mounting concern regarding a potential stereotypical portrayal of Arabs or Muslims, as per the norm in Hollywood.
The Oscar-winner recently put these concerns to rest in an interview with Digital Spy, in which he assured readers his character does not depict any ideology or religion in a negative light. In fact, he said he would not have accepted the role had it revolved around his Egyptian heritage.
In April, the Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody star confirmed he will take part in the 25th edition of the spy film series, which is set to be released in April 2020. Given the actor's Egyptian roots, fans worried Malek might play a character who perpetuates inaccuracies about the Arab world. Thankfully, that won't be the case.
Speaking with Digital Spy, the 38-year-old actor said he is adamant about stirring clear of misrepresenting ideologies and religions. When asked whether his character would reflect his Egyptian heritage, he said, "No, absolutely not."
"[That is] another thing that I discussed with Cary [American director Cary Fukunaga]; I said we cannot identify him [the villain] 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," he explained.
Malek refused to share more details about his character, but he revealed he has already shot key scenes for the movie, saying, "So far, so good. So far, so great."
He expressed his excitement about working with English actor Daniel Craig (AKA James Bond) and American director Cary Fukunaga. "This is another moment where I find myself pinching myself," he said. "To be part of this franchise is to be part of history again."
Still, he admitted to feeling pressure in partaking in yet another major production.
"I feel a substantial weight on my shoulders. I mean, Bond is something that we all grow up with. 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," he explained.
Representation done right
Born in the U.S. to Egyptian immigrant parents, the actor regularly expresses pride in his roots and has spoken about his experience as a first-generation American multiple times in the past.
Malek has previously addressed the topic of typecasting in Hollywood, telling GQ Middle East he rejects roles that portray "Arabs or Middle Easterners in a negative light."
"I've been disgruntled for a certain time about all the roles for Middle Eastern people in Hollywood [being almost exclusively] the roles of the terrorist. It's sad to see people going for just this role and playing the villain, and I always wanted to do something else," Malek once said in an interview with BBC Arabic.
He added that he tries to perform a variety of characters and "show range."