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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 March 2019

Rami Malek: 5 things you didn't know about the Best Actor Oscar winner

He only spoke Arabic at home until he was four...

Best Actor Rami Malek poses with his award backstage at the Oscars. Reuters 
Best Actor Rami Malek poses with his award backstage at the Oscars. Reuters 

There has been much conversation about Rami Malek in the days since he scooped an Oscar for his role portraying Freddie Mercury in biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.

The Los Angeles-born actor made headlines as the first Egyptian to win Best Actor, paying homage to his parents and their home in his acceptance speech, saying: "My parents are immigrants from Egypt, I am a first-generation American and part of my story is being written right now."

Since the February 24 awards, many Egyptians have spoken out about the actor, revealing how proud they are of his achievement. His cousin, Fady Essam, told The National, "It's a win for all Egyptians."

Here, we reveal how his big break came to be, where you may have seen him before and the very famous people he went to school with...

1. He has an identical twin brother

No, you're not seeing double. The Oscar winner has an identical twin, named Sami. Along with his mother, Nelly, and sister, Yasmine, Sami was one of the Bohemian Rhapsody star's Oscars dates.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Todd Williamson/JanuaryImages/REX/Shutterstock (10118842bn) Nelly Malek, Jasmine Malek, Rami Malek and Sami Malek 91st Annual Academy Awards, Fox After Party, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Feb 2019
Nelly Malek, Jasmine Malek, Rami Malek and Sami Malek. Todd Williamson / JanuaryImages / REX / Shutterstock

Sami Malek is thought to be a teacher in California, and like most sets of twins the brothers have swapped places in the past. The Oscar winner reflected on one incident in the past during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, when he got his brother out of performing a Greek monologue in a university class.

Watch Malek tell the story here:

2. He spoke Arabic at home until he was four

He impressed Arabic speakers by saying "ahlan wa sahlan" backstage after winning his Oscar, but he can speak more Arabic than that. His parents are Egyptian immigrants, and although the 37-year-old was born in Los Angeles, he spoke Arabic at home until he was four years old. He does admit now, however, that he has the Arabic of a "10-year-old" kid.

"You know, I was born here, but my brother and I really didn't speak English until [I was] about four or five. So it was quite difficult to assimilate," he revealed in an interview with NPR. "I mean, my name seems very easy to pronounce this day and age – not for everybody. But at that time, for the first, you know, 10 years of my life, no one pronounced my name as Rami – they thought it rhymed with Sammy... It only took me until high school where I found the confidence to tell everybody, no, my name is Rami."

Watch him speak more Arabic here:

3. He got his big break by delivering pizza

Malek's acting career began as Andy on Gilmore Girls. The brief appearance saw the aspiring actor star as a member of a bible group in the show. In order to get the role, he had been delivering pizzas to Hollywood casting directors with his headshot in the box, long before he had an agent.

Recalling his big break when a Gilmore Girls casting director called him, he has said: "After years of delivering pizzas and stuffing my headshot into pizza boxes and to-go orders, someone finally called with a part. I went to her office and I got the job later that night."

Any major Malek fans can go back and find the episode titled The Clamor and the Clangor – it is season four, episode 11.

Rami Malek starred as Andy in 'Gilmore Girls' back in 2004. Seen here with Keiko Agena who played Lane Kim in the series, which ran from 2000 until 2007. Courtesy Netflix 
Rami Malek starred as Andy in 'Gilmore Girls' back in 2004. Seen here with Keiko Agena who played Lane Kim in the series, which ran from 2000 until 2007. Courtesy Netflix

Two years later he featured as an Egyptian pharaoh mummy in Night at the Museum opposite Ben Stiller and then the typecasting continued, until 2010 when he was cast as suicide bomber, Marcos Al-Zacar, in 24.

PNPATB Prod DB A© 20th Century Fox / DR LA NUIT AU MUSEE (A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM) de Shawn Levy 2006 USA avec Rami Malek d'apres l'oeuvre de Milan Trenc
Malek featured as Ahkmenrah in 2006 movie 'A Night at the Museum'. Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Malek has spoken about being typecast in "quintessential terrorist roles" on The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's podcast, The HFPA in Conversation. Malek said: "I did watch actors that I knew go into auditions with one name and a year later I'd see them at auditions –Middle Eastern actors, we'd be auditioning for that quintessential terrorist role – and I'd see them sign in with different names and kept my mouth shut.

"I understood it, but it never spoke to me as something I needed to do," he added. "I was always on the cusp of, 'well, he's not… I guess Middle Eastern enough,' or 'he’s not Caucasian enough.' So it was always a difficult thing for me to try to navigate."

By 2015 he was on his way to becoming a household name, when he was cast as hacker Elliot Alderson in Mr Robot.

4. He went to high school with Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Bilson

Clearly a California high school for budding stars, Rami and Sami Malek attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles.

The Maleks were in the same grade as The OC's Rachel Bilson, while Kirsten Dunst was one grade below them.

"I don't know if everyone knows we went to high school together," Malek said during a Vanity Fair Actors on Actors interview from 2016. While Dunst added: "I just remember you and your brother being, like, flirty happy dudes in high school".

Other notable Notre Dame High School alumni include baseball player Chris Dickerson, rock star Dave Navarro, vlogger Jimmy Tatro and Gossip Girl star Michelle Trachtenberg.

5. He is dating his Bohemian Rhapsody co-star

Lucy Boynton plays Malek's on-screen love interest in Bohemian Rhapsody, but the pair are a couple off screen too.

Lucy Boynton, left, and Rami Malek arrive at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Lucy Boynton and Rami Malek arrive at the Oscars. AP

They met while filming in 2017 and made their first public appearance together at a London party for the launch of Alexa Chung's ALEXACHUNG Fantastic collection in January 2018.

It wasn't until January 2019, however, that they publicly addressed their romance, when Malek thanked the British actress in his Palm Springs International Film Festival acceptance speech, saying: "Thank you, Lucy Boynton. You have been my ally, my confidant, my love. Thank you so much."

Updated: February 27, 2019 11:34 AM

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