Rami Malek has won the Oscar for Best Actor at the 91st Academy Awards for his role as the late Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Malek, receiving the best actor trophy on Sunday, called it a “monumental moment”. He thanked members of the band in attendance.
“I may not have been the obvious choice, but I guess it worked out,” Malek said.
“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 speculated about what he would have made of the honour as a child.
“I think his curly-haired mind would have been blown,” he said. “That kid was struggling with his identity, trying to figure himself out.”
He lauded Bohemian Rhapsody for telling the story of a gay man and an immigrant who lived his life as “unapologetically himself”.
Mercury, who was born in Zanzibar to parents from India, moved to England with his family as a teenager.
Malek noted that he himself is the son of immigrants, from Egypt, and a first-generation American. He gave a shout-out to his mother – “I love you, lady” – and regretted that his father was not alive.
“My dad didn’t get to see me do any of this, but I think he’s looking down on me right now,” said Malek, who gained attention in the television series Mr Robot.
The actor had a brief scare on his big night, taking a fall in the theatre after he accepted his trophy. He was checked by medical staff and appeared uninjured when he came backstage to talk to reporters.
‘Anything is possible’
Malek was asked about what the role meant, especially on an Oscar night that celebrated diversity in movies ranging from Roma to Black Panther.
“I grew up in a world where I never thought I was going to play the lead on Mr Robot because I never saw anyone in a lead role that looked like me,” Malek said.
“I never thought I could play Freddie Mercury until I realised his [birth] name was Farrokh Bulsara.”
Malek praised Mercury for his ability to use his personal struggle to reach others and convey an important message: “We are all human beings and, forgive me for this, collectively we are the champions.”
Growing emotional when he called the award “beyond any expectation” that he or his family could have had, he said it was proof that “anything is possible”.
Fellow Egyptians and fans around the world were quick to congratulate Malek on his win.
Twitter users posted their heartfelt wishes and appreciation for Malek’s remarks, which he delivered in his acceptance speech.
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) February 25, 2019
— في الكون وحيد🇪🇬 (@amrhamdon) February 25, 2019
Some thanked Malek for taking up the role.
rami malek playing freddie mercury was the best choice ever made. the passion and the soul that this actor gave to play our biggest legend is out of this world. thank you, rami. we will be grateful until the end of time. pic.twitter.com/ezhhpcx4lr
— sofia (@myfairyroger) February 25, 2019
And others took the opportunity to acknowledge Malek’s roots.
Rami Malek is paving the way for Egyptians and any kind of middle easterners you can be great in anything you do if you put the work in to it, don’t let the fact that you came from a third world country stop you
— ChampagneJuJu (@JHabashy15) February 25, 2019
Rami Malek is the first ME/NA American to win an Oscar. He makes us all so proud! 🇪🇬
— Dena Khalafallah (@DenaKhalafallah) February 25, 2019
Al Jazeera and news agencies