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Happy Birthday, Rami Malek: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' star used to tape resume on pizza boxes as a struggling actor

To get the character of Elliot in 'Mr Robot', who suffers from mental and social disorders, he met with a psychologist
(USA Network/Getty Images/IMDb)
(USA Network/Getty Images/IMDb)

Can you imagine there was a time when Rami Malek had resigned as a real estate agent? After struggling for years to get a break, in and out of the theatre community of New York, and trying to make it in Hollywood, he had almost given up his childhood dream of becoming an actor.

He had moved back to Los Angeles and was living with his parents at that time. To make ends meet, he started working odd jobs, mainly delivering pizza and making falafel and shawarma sandwiches at a restaurant in Hollywood. Such strong was his passion to work as an actor that he even stuck his resume to pizza boxes to get the word out. But without any leads, he faced bouts of depression and a loss of confidence. 

What he didn't know was that soon enough, he was going to get a break. Soon afterward, he scored a prominent recurring role in the Fox sitcom 'The War at Home'. But it was his work in HBO's Emmy Award-winning World War II miniseries 'The Pacific', which laid to rest any plans of an alternate career.

Impressed by his work in 'The Pacific', Tom Hanks offered him the role of Steve Dibiasi in 'Larry Crowne'. And soon followed more supporting roles in 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2', 'Short Term 12', Spike Lee's 'Oldboy', and 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus'. In addition to his, he played minor roles in 'Battleship', 'The Master' and 'Ain't Them Bodies Saints'. 

But his breakthrough role came as Elliot Alderson in 'Mr Robot'.

When casting for the USA Network show, screenwriter Sam Esmail had auditioned over 100 actors for the role of the mentally unstable computer-hacker. At that time, the show was still in development, but Esmail couldn't find anyone who fit the role.

Rami Malek attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019, in Hollywood, California.

This made him consider rethinking the character altogether. But Malek's audition in late summer 2014 scrapped any such plans. "It opened my eyes to who Elliot really was". After the casting, Malek worked hard on Elliot's character. To get the character of Elliot, who suffers from mental and social disorders, right, he met with a psychologist. 

The psychological drama, 'Mr Robot', premiered on the USA Network with Malek in the lead role, one that drew immediate acclaim from critics. His performance earned him nominations for the Dorian Award, Satellite Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award. He won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. In 2016, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series becoming the first non-white actor to win an Emmy in that category since 1998.

Early on, the actor had established himself as a character actor remarking that he enjoys the audition process considering it as a "proving ground to test things out." In its final fourth season, Elliot won Malek a second Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Television Series Drama.

The best is yet to come. Still hot from his successes as Elliot, in 2018, he played the role of rock singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury in the biopic, 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. The Queen biopic took no time in winning heart across the globe. Made on a budget of $50 million, the movie became a box office hit grossing over $900 million worldwide.

This role was an important one for him. "This is a role I don't think can be outdone. I think we're always searching for that next great role, and I guess I'm fortunate that I've already been met with it," he had once said. "I'd like to think that there is more out there for me to do, and there is, but I do doubt that there is anything that lives up to how precious this role and this human being have been in my life."

The financial success of the film was nothing in the face of all the recognition he received for his performance winning several awards, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and British Academy Film Award for Best Actor. He is the first actor of Egyptian heritage to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Here's wishing him a happy birthday and many more projects to come!