Rami Malek has declined to say that Freddie Mercury was a gay icon.
The US actor, who plays Mercury in the new biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, told INTO magazine that “‘icon,’ I think, encompasses whatever, the way you identify, I think.
“If he’s an icon to one, there’s no reason it requires another adjective, as far as I see it,” added the star, who rose to prominence as the main character in Mr Robot.
In the rest of his awkward answer to the question of whether Mercury was a gay icon, Malek added: “I think the way—what’s really great about him is that he never wanted to or thought about himself as being boxed into anything.
“He just was. I mean, he even—I’ve heard him say when asked, he says: ‘I’m just me. I’m just me.’”
The queer British star became the most famous victim of the AIDS crisis when he died in 1991.
The film, which has failed to impress critics so far, faced a protest about the NHS and its treatment of HIV at the London screening of its world premiere on Tuesday (October 23).
Campaigners from ACT UP London — a group fighting to end HIV — and the NHS Anti-Swindle Team, which wants to maintain a publicly run NHS, united to protest on the film’s purple carpet outside Wembley Arena.
Dressed in clothes reading: “Save Our NHS,” the demonstrators chanted: “HIV stigma is real life — not just fantasy” — a play on the lyric from “Bohemian Rhapsody” — before launching into a specially written version of the hit Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now,” called “Don’t Cut Me Now.”
They sang: “Don’t cut me now / I’m entitled to free healthcare / I don’t pay at all. Don’t cut me now / If I wanted US healthcare / I’d give Branson a call.
“Don’t cut me now – ’cause we’re having a s**t time / Don’t cut me now – yes we’re having a sick time / I don’t wanna die at all!” the song concluded.
Bohemian Rhapsody, which chronicles Mercury’s rise to fame, was attacked earlier this year for its alleged straight-washing and lack of focus on HIV.
Former American Gods and Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller tweeted that the trailer included “gay/bi superstar Freddie Mercury flirting with and twirling with a woman but no indication of his love of men?”
He accused those in charge of the film of “#HETWASHING (hetero-washing) for marketing sakes.”
Fuller added: “I feel what the trailer is doing is queer-erasure. If they were out and proud with his bi-sexuality they would have indicated he was bi-sexual.”
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