Rami Malek concluded a remarkable awards season by taking home the biggest prize an actor can win. His portrayal of Freddie Mercury in Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody movie won Best Actor at the 91st Annual Academy Awards, held tonight at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

"Thank you Queen. Thank you guys for allowing me to be the tiniest part of your phenomenal, extraordinary legacy. I am forever in your debt," Malek said while accepting his award. "... We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself. The fact that I'm celebrating him and his story with you tonight is proof that we're longing for stories like this. I am the son of immigrants from Egypt, I'm a first-generation American, and part of my story is being written right now."

Malek beat out fellow nominees Christian Bale (Vice), Bradley Cooper (A Star Is Born), Willem Dafoe (At Eternity's Gate) and Viggo Mortensen (Green Book) for the award. Upon the announcement of the nominations, Malek and Bale were named by British oddsmakers as the even-money favorites, with Cooper slightly behind.

Earlier this year, Malek won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards. In addition to earning near-unanimous praise from the critics -- and Queen guitarist Brian May, who said that he "inhabited Freddie to the point where we even started to think of him as Freddie" -- Malek was credited as being the behind-the-scenes force in bringing the movie to completion after the firing of director Bryan Singer with only a few weeks of shooting remaining.

"We were such a family by then," producer Graham King said. "Rami was driving that train every morning. … We just all did what we had to do to get the movie finished.”

Malek signed on to Bohemian Rhapsody in 2016, several years after talks with Sacha Baron Cohen to play Mercury didn't end well. Since 2015, he has starred on the USA Network series Mr. Robot as Eliot Alderson, a computer hacker who suffers from depression and social anxiety disorder. A year later, he won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

 

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