Rami Malek discussed the allegations against director Bryan Singer at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday
While speaking at a discussion at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Friday, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg, Malek was asked about the allegations of sexual misconduct against the Bohemian Rhapsody director — all of which Singer has vehemently denied.
“My heart goes out to anyone who has to live through anything like what I’ve heard and what is out there,” Malek, 37, said. “It’s awful, it’s remarkable that this happens. I can appreciate so much what they’ve been through and how difficult this must be for them. In the light of the #MeToo era that this somehow seems to exist after that, it’s a horrible thing.”
“I’ve sat here and talked about how everyone deserves a voice and anyone who wants to talk about what happened with Bryan deserves to have their voice heard,” Malek added. “In my situation with Bryan, it was not pleasant, not at all. And that’s about what I can say about it at this point.”
Malek is nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars for his performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, which was partially directed by Singer before he was replaced by Dexter Fletcher.
Singer, 53, was fired from the biopic in December 2017 for allegedly being “unexpectedly unavailable” for several days on set. His firing also came amid reports that there was tension between him and Malek.
“For anyone who is seeking any solace in all of this, Bryan Singer was fired,” Malek added during the panel, visibly emotional. “Bryan Singer was fired. I don’t think that was something anyone saw coming but I think that had to happen and it did.”
In 2017, a lawsuit was filed against the director, alleging that he raped a boy, who was 17 years old at the time, Indie Wire reported.
The Atlantic report was published in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody being nominated for multiple Oscars including Best Picture and crossing over $800 million at the worldwide box office.
Singer’s lawyer Andrew Brettler told The Atlantic that the director categorically denies ever having sex with, or a preference for, underage men. The lawyer also noted that Singer has never been arrested for or charged with any crime.
Victor Valdovinos, who says he worked as an extra in Singer’s 1997 film Apt Pupil, claims the director “grabbed my genitals and started masturbating it” when he was 13 and they were filming a locker room scene. Singer had reportedly been shooting the movie at Valdovinos’ school. He claims Singer asked him to appear in the film after they first met in the school bathroom.
Three other men, all under pseudonyms, alleged Singer seduced them during parties at his Beverly Hills mansion in the late ’90s — two when they were 17, and one when he was 15.
A fifth man quoted in the story, Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, previously filed a lawsuit against Singer in 2017 after alleging the director raped him on a yacht in 2003 when he was 17. In a statement through his lawyers, Singer previously said he “categorically denies these allegations and will vehemently defend this lawsuit to the very end.”
In response to the article, Singer said to PEOPLE in a statement: “It’s sad that The Atlantic would stoop to this low standard of journalistic integrity. Again, I am forced to reiterate that this story rehashes claims from bogus lawsuits filed by a disreputable cast of individuals willing to lie for money or attention. And it is no surprise that, with Bohemian Rhapsody being an award-winning hit, this homophobic smear piece has been conveniently timed to take advantage of its success.”
The writers of The Atlantic article, Maximillian Potter and Alex French, responded in a statement released on Twitter, saying, “We are most grateful that the alleged victims now have a chance to be heard and we hope the substance of their allegations remains the focus.”
“As far as I knew, I was considered before Bryan was even attached,” he told the outlet. “So I had my head down preparing for this for about a year ahead of time, and I never really looked up.”
“I didn’t know much about Bryan,” the actor continued. “I think that the allegations and things were, believe it or not, honestly something I was not aware of, and that is what it is.”
Backstage following the awards, the actor explained his decision to leave Singer out of his speech.
“There’s only one thing we needed to do and that was to celebrate Freddie Mercury in this film. He is a marvel. There is only one Freddie Mercury and nothing would compromise us giving him the love, celebration and adulation he deserves.”