Rami Said Malek is an American actor and producer. His breakthrough role was as computer hacker Elliot Alderson in the USA Network television series Mr. Robot (2015–2019), for which he received several accolades, including the 2016 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
In 2018, he portrayed rock singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, for which he received critical acclaim and won 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. Time magazine named Malek one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, to Egyptian immigrant parents, Malek studied theater at the University of Evansville in Indiana.
Malek was born in the city of Torrance, a region of Los Angeles County, California, on May 12, 1981, to Egyptian immigrant parents, Said Malek and Nelly Abdel-Malek. He has said he is also "an eighth Greek." His parents and older sister left Cairo in 1978 after his father, a travel agent and tour guide, became intrigued by Western visitors.
They settled in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, mostly staying in the San Fernando Valley and rarely venturing into Hollywood. His father sold insurance; his mother is an accountant. Malek was raised in his family's Coptic Orthodox Christian faith and grew up speaking colloquial Egyptian Arabic at home until the age of four. Malek has an identical twin brother named Sami who is younger by four minutes; he is an ESL and English teacher.
Malek's older sister, Yasmine, is an ER doctor. His parents emphasized to their children the importance of preserving their Egyptian roots, and his father would wake his son in the middle of the night to talk on the phone to his Arabic-speaking extended family in their hometown of Samalut, Egypt.
As a first-generation American, Malek found it difficult to assimilate as a child because of cultural differences, even spending most of his childhood having his name mispronounced: "It only took me till high school where I found the confidence to tell everybody, no, my name is Rami. It's a very upsetting thing to think about, that I didn't have the confidence to correct anyone at that point." As a result, he said it was difficult to form a self-identity as a child and gravitated towards "creating characters and doing voices" as he searched for an outlet for that energy.
He attended Notre Dame High School and was in the same class as actress Rachel Bilson. Kirsten Dunst, who is a year younger, also attended the school, and the two shared a musical theater class. His parents harbored dreams of him becoming a lawyer, so he joined the debate team freshman year. Though he struggled to form arguments, his debate teacher noted his talent in dramatic interpretation and encouraged him instead to perform the one-man play Zooman and The Sign at a competition.
After graduating in 1999, he went on to study theater at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana and spent a semester abroad at Harlaxton College in Lincolnshire, England. During the summer before his senior year, Malek interned at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut where he became an acquaintance of playwright August Wilson.