LONDON (AFP) - Rami Malek has revealed he thought twice before signing up to play the lead villain in the latest James Bond film opposite Daniel Craig.
The actor, who won an Oscar this year for his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, feared his Egyptian ancestry could lead to the part being a caricature of a Middle Eastern terrorist.
Malek raised his concerns with the film's director Cary Fukunaga, according to Britain's Daily Mirror tabloid. "I said: 'We cannot identify him with any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion. That's not something I would entertain, so if that is why I am your choice, then you can count me out.'
"But that was clearly not his vision. So he's a very different kind of terrorist," the actor noted.
Malek, who was born in Los Angeles in 1981 to parents who immigrated to the United States three years earlier, identifies strongly with his heritage.
"I am Egyptian. I grew up listening to Egyptian music," he told GQ magazine last year.
"These are my people. I feel so gorgeously tied to the culture and the human beings that exist there."
The new 007 film has been besieged by problems, most recently with Craig undergoing minor ankle surgery after an injury on set.
It is now due to open in cinemas in the US, Britain and France on April 8, 2020.
Malek, who has filmed some scenes in Norway, said: "It's another extremely clever script from the people who have figured out exactly what people want in those movies.
"But I feel a substantial weight on my shoulders. I mean, Bond is something that we all grow up with."