There's a photo that Oscar-winner Rami Malek doesn't want you to see. And The OC star Rachel Bilson has the receipts.
Two years ago, Bilson posted a throwback photo of herself with Malek on Instagram. But Malek, who went to the Notre Dame High School in California with her, wasn’t impressed, and asked her to take it down.
Bilson, who recounted the incident on actor Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert on Monday, said she was taken aback by the Mr Robot star's reaction.
"We were in the same crew. We did The Crucible together senior year," Bilson recounted. "We were the leads in it together. We kind of kept in contact a little bit."
Malek had “always been super talented. A really amazing actor, even in high school,” she added.
The photo that Bilson posted was of the two of them on their senior year trip to Broadway in New York City. Bilson shared it on Instagram during the awards season in 2019 when Malek was on his historic Best Actor winning spree for his role in Bohemian Rhapsody.
"We were super-nerdy, just the dorkiest picture of both of us," she told Shepard. "But I throw it up because it's funny, and I think it's so important to be able to make fun of yourself. And he has like a gold chain, and I'm like, 'Rami where'd you get the gold chain?’"
Malek, she said, then messaged her privately and asked here to delete the photo.
"It wasn't like 'Hey, how are you blah blah blah,'" Bilson said. "It was straight to 'I would really appreciate if you would take that down, I'm a really private person.'"
Bilson said she was “super-bummed” but that she apologised and obliged.
"I wrote to him a really nice message, like, 'I'm so sorry. Go get the Oscar, you're doing amazing.' And I never hear anything back," she said.
“We were good friends, and I'm a big fan of not taking yourself seriously, especially at that level of fame and talent. But look, he wants to be super-respected, it's his thing, so I respected it. I took it down. I was just a little bummed at how it was handled.”
The US-born Malek, whose parents are Egyptian immigrants, made history that year, becoming the first actor of Arab descent to win a Best Actor Oscar.
He is, by all accounts, fiercely guarded about his private life.
In 2018, a fan posted an awkward video of herself and Malek after she bumped into the actor in the street.
“Can you say hi to my friends?” the fan asks in the video.
“No, but we can take a picture. Is that alright?” Malek replies.
The fan later posted the video on Twitter saying: “This is probably the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to me.”
The video has been viewed more than 4.3 million times.
Malek addressed the encounter in an interview with E! a few days later.
"I am who I am and people can interpret that how they want, but I love the fans, I wouldn't be here without my fans and I try to take as much time as possible," he said.
"Sometimes, when you've been travelling around the earth a couple times, you try to just be protective of your time as a human being. And I'm finding it quite funny."
In an interview with Vanity Fair, he again stressed that he is "happy to take photos" with fans.
"I just want to be aware of what people are doing in the moment. When someone films you automatically, it's a bit intrusive,” he said.
Malek was last seen in the crime thriller The Little Things, along with Denzel Washington and Jared Leto. He will play Bond villain Safin in No Time to Die, which has been beset by delays owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The film now has a Thursday, September 30 UK release date.