Before he was Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek played a series of diverse and unexpected roles. He may have only been consciously on our radars since his award-winning portrayal of Elliot Alderson in the highly-acclaimed series Mr. Robot, but he has been on our screens for much longer.
Malek got his first big break in a brief appearance on Gilmore Girls back in 2004. That’s right, he played a member of Lane’s Bible study group — and the role actually ended up costing him. He booked the job without being a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Because most shows are union, Malek had to become a member. The cost of membership? $2,000. “It took me forever to pay that off,” he told Glamour.
He may have only spoken three lines in Gilmore Girls, but that role was the start of steady acting work for a couple of years before snagging the role of Pharaoh Ahkmenrah in Night at the Museum, a role he reprised again in two subsequent sequels. Another role we definitely saw Malek in but didn’t realize it was him was Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. He played Benjamin, a member of the Egyptian coven. In between all that work, he was also booking recurring roles on TV, including the final season of 24 and HBO’s prestige drama The Pacific.
Cut back to Mr. Robot. Malek started the show in 2015. By season 2, it was a proven hit. According to The Hollywood Reporter, for lead actors in a television series per-episode-pay can vary a lot based on your experience, ranging anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000 an episode. Malek wasn’t a total newcomer when he landed Mr. Robot, but it was his first time starring in a series. While raises come with each season, THR reports that the big payoff comes after contract renegotiations, which often come after the end of the third season. If the show is a breakout hit, which Mr. Robot was, stars of those shows can earn as much as $1 million per episode.
When Malek finished the first season, he did what a lot of us would do the first time we earned a significant amount of money. “Big money coming in my pockets, first-year show, didn't get canceled,” Malek recounted on The Tonight Show. “Did I splurge? I bought a student loan and I paid it off.”
While we don’t know exactly how much Malek made in Bohemian Rhapsody, we do know that the film is doing spectacularly well in the box office. The rock-’n’-roll biopic and Oscar nominee for Best Picture has grossed $860 million worldwide, according to Forbes. In the same article from THR, it reports that A-list actors can make anywhere from $5 million to $20 million for a film.
Often what an actor is paid for a project is influenced by whether they have been nominated or won awards for their work. For his role in Mr. Robot, Malek has been nominated for two Golden Globes, two SAG awards, and an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, which he won in 2016. His portrayal of Freddie Mercury has garnered him a Golden Globe for the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. He’s also currently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Bohemian Rhapsody.
Malek’s reported net worth likely hasn’t caught up with the big year he has had, but it is estimated at about $8 million. Once the awards season is over, there’s a significant chance that number will increase.
Most of this information comes down to estimates and ranges. The only people that really know Malek’s net worth are him and his accountant.