When you look at the origins of many Hollywood stars, it’s not a huge surprise that they made it to the big time. These actors often grew up around the industry, or even had famous parents. On the other hand, some film legends come completely out of the blue.

Rami Malek is well on his way to becoming Hollywood royalty. While he’s prolific on-screen, he rarely opens up about his personal journey to the top. Needless to say, his path was anything but conventional  — and he finally let all the details slip.

In just a few years, Rami Malek blossomed from a virtual unknown into an international superstar. Of course, every success story involves a ton of hard work behind-the-scenes. Most people never expected Rami to make it in show business at all.

Us Weekly

Many years before, Rami’s parents left their beloved city of Cairo in 1978 for the United States. They promised themselves they wouldn’t abandon their Egyptian culture as they started a family. But a big surprise hit them in 1981.

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That year, the Maleks gave birth to identical twins! Rami and Sami added a spark of energy to their Los Angeles home, which was already pretty full with their older sister Yasmine. At the same time, life wasn’t always kind to young Rami.

Growing up speaking Arabic and following Egyptian customs, Rami had a tough time fitting in at school. His parents encouraged him to focus on his studies and join the debate team during his time at Notre Dame High School, but he had a secret passion.

He wanted to act! Coincidentally, future stars Rachel Bilson and Kirsten Dunst attended his school. Rami knew his “parents never thought that being an actor would be the best use of this transatlantic trip of theirs.” Even so, he was determined to try.

Instagram / Rachel Bilson

Unfortunately, Rami had trouble finding acting role models. Hollywood wasn’t too friendly to performers of Egyptian descent, with a notable exception being Rami’s idol Omar Sharif. The teenager wondered if he, too, could break the mold.

He went on to the University of Evanston, where he honed his craft in their theater program. Those four years gave him a sanctuary to figure out his purpose, but Rami knew he’d have to make a big decision about his future soon enough.

Soon after graduation, Rami made his television debut with a guest spot on Gilmore Girls. Against the advice of some of his contemporaries, he did use his real name in the credits. Rami would make it as himself, or not at all.

Although he considered attending graduate school for acting, Rami decided he was better off avoiding that debt and dove right into the life of a professional actor. He moved to New York and nabbed more small TV spots over the next couple years.

Then, 2006 proved to be a huge year, as Rami made his film debut as Pharaoh Ahkmenrah in Night at the Museum. Studio bigwigs allegedly disliked the young actor and repeatedly called to replace him, but Rami’s costar Ben Stiller insisted he stay on.

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From there, Rami won a string of supporting movie roles. Casting directors loved the raw emotion behind his eyes, which made him a perfect fit as a vampire in Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2.

After some lighter projects, Rami got to really show off his talents in the acclaimed Steven Spielberg-produced miniseries The Pacific. The 2010 project was so intense, he later admitted, that the actor had to take a break from working after they wrapped.

HBO

That same year, Rami shone as Marcos Al-Zacar in the thriller series 24. Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but feel conflicted about being yet another Middle Eastern actor relegated to the part of a terrorist. Wasn’t there a better way for him to express himself?

Fox

Just in time, Rami saw a casting call for an unusual show called Mr. Robot. After getting the lead role as hacker Elliot Alderson, Rami became a breakout sensation upon the show’s 2015 debut. Mr. Robot made him a household name and won him a 2016 Emmy.

USA

Rami disclosed that he struggled with the sudden fame, often with hilarious results. On one occasion, he ignored an email to hang out with Robert Downey Jr., believing it to be a scam. He never expected the truth — the Iron Man star really did want to meet him!

His Mr. Robot success aside, Rami still felt hungry for more. He made headlines when he attached himself to a Freddie Mercury biopic that had lingered in production hell for years. Despite the risk factor, Rami assured himself he could really make a mark.

NPR

On set, Rami had way more to worry about than perfecting the Queen singer’s accent and choreography. He often clashed with commandeering director Bryan Singer, and the film’s prospects took a nosedive when Singer was fired over sexual assault allegations.

Steve Granitz / Jason LaVeris

In spite of all the drama, Bohemian Rhapsody opened in 2018 with a massive international gross of $900 million. And Rami, the first-generation American who everyone doubted, won the Academy Award for Best Actor.

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To stress just how much this achievement meant, Rami said, “We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself.” He declared that its success was “proof that we’re longing for stories like this.”

After his monumental victory, the Maleks couldn’t have been happier for Rami. They said they celebrated like they just won the World Cup! However, an Oscar wasn’t Rami’s only prize from Bohemian Rhapsody.

He also found love, in the form of his co-star Lucy Boynton. She played the Queen vocalist’s girlfriend and confidante Mary Austin. When he met Lucy while filming the movie, he was immediately smitten. “She’s such wildly talented human being and an inspiration,” he has said.

Their real-life chemistry exploded on the big screen in a major way in the roles of Freddie and Mary. Of course, as rock and roll fans know, Mary wasn’t the only life-changing romance of Freddie Mercury’s life.

Fox

Freddie Mercury, the man from Zanzibar who rose to rock-god status with Queen, was at the top of his game when he felt the pangs of cupid’s arrow. Funny enough, the “arrow” was a man who had turned him down once before.

It was 1985 when Mercury met Jim Hutton for the first time at Heaven, a gay club in London. Mercury was smitten immediately, but Hutton not so much; he didn’t recognize Mercury and actually refused the drink the rock star offered to buy him.

At that time, Hutton was romantically involved with someone. So he sent the rock ‘n’ roll god packing. About a year and a half later, however, they ran into each other for a second time while out clubbing.

Once again, Mercury offered to again buy him a drink, and this time, Hutton felt a bit more inclined to accept the offer. Sparks flew in both directions.

The men began dating soon after their second club encounter. Not even one year later Hutton packed up his things and officially moved into Mercury’s London estate, a gorgeous mansion called Garden Lodge.

As Hutton soon found out, maintaining a relationship with someone as famous as Freddie Mercury was far from easy. Mercury was constantly in the spotlight, and this often led to heated arguments.

Hutton recalled one frustrating evening when he saw Mercury leaving a club with another man. When confronted about it, Mercury admitted to Hutton he did it purely to make him jealous.

The foundation of the relationship came to a true test when Hutton gave Mercury an ultimatum after he caught the singer with a yet another stranger: be with him and only him, or get lost.

While the singer might’ve enjoyed a more open relationship, Mercury ultimately chose to give up the secretive antics and committed solely to Hutton.

Even though you’d think dating and living with a rock star would be nothing but a party every minute of the day, the men spent their alone time quite mellowly. Mercury was surprisingly shy and reserved offstage.

Hutton said, “He loved his cats. I’d get in from work. We’d lie together on the sofa. He would massage my feet and ask about my day.” The men were in love, but amazingly, Mercury never publicly came out to anyone.

That Mercury never publicly revealed his sexual orientation didn’t bother Hutton at all. Both Hutton and Mercury sported wedding rings as proof of their commitment to each other, and that was enough.

Hutton said this of Mercury’s refusal to publicly come out: “He might have worried about how coming out would have affected him professionally but he didn’t say that. We both thought our relationship, and being gay, was our business.”

The pair managed to find a balance between the wild life Mercury lived with Queen and the calm and intimate time they spent together at Garden Lodge. In 1987, however, their blissfulness came to a screeching halt.

Mercury revealed to Hutton doctors diagnosed him with AIDS, and naturally, Hutton was destroyed by the news. Putting Hutton first, Mercury offered to end the relationship.

But Hutton, ever the romantic, was dedicated to making Mercury’s remaining years as meaningful and comfortable as possible.

At the time Mercury was diagnosed, AIDS treatment was still in its infancy. Mercury, having the wealth he did, could get private treatments in his home. Hutton stood by his side for each session.

Painfully, Hutton could only watch as Mercury slowly deteriorated. He sensed Mercury knew the end was coming when he made the choice to stop his AIDS medication.

So it was that on November 24, 1991, the man who mesmerized the world with his energetic aura, Freddie Mercury, passed away.

The world of music took a massive hit on the day Mercury died. Entertainers from all over showed up to offer their condolences. Afterwards, Mercury’s fortune was split between two people in his life who had impacted him most.

Mary Austin who was actually engaged to Mercury prior to his relationship with Jim Hutton, took over his Garden Lodge estate. Hutton was still living there at the time, but Austin forced him out. Mercury, however, made sure Hutton wasn’t left penniless. 

The singer left one million dollars to Hutton, who used the money to move back to his home country of Ireland. Not long after the move, he wrote a book titled Mercury and Me detailing life with the singer. Hutton lived in Ireland until his passing in 2010.

Some might say it was fate that reconnected Mercury and Hutton 18 months after their first encounter. Either way, both men were committed to each other, and although Mercury was a massive celebrity, the love both men had for each other was always real.