Rami Malek denies rumours he’ll play Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao in new biopic

The American actor said ‘someone of Filipino origin’ should portray the world champion boxer on the big screen

Oscar winner Rami Malek has denied rumours he will play Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao in an upcoming biopic. AP, AFP
Powered by automated translation

Oscar-winner Rami Malek has denied rumours he's set to play Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao in a new biopic.

The American-Egyptian star, 39, who won the Best Actor Oscar in 2019 for portraying the late Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, said: "No, this is the first time I've heard it," when asked by online news site Rappler if he was being lined up to play the 42-year-old boxer.

“I can absolutely deny that. That’s fascinating. No, I will definitely not be playing Manny Pacquiao,” he told the site. When asked if he thought a Filipino actor should play the role, he replied: “I think that would be the right choice.

“If we’ve learnt anything, by certain stretches, an actor can do it,” he said, “but for someone of Filipino origin, it would be nice to see that person being played by somebody from that country.”

Rumours had also emerged that fellow Oscar winner  Leonardo DiCaprio would play Pacquiao's coach, Freddie Roach, a trainer and former professional boxer who has also worked with champions Miguel Cotto, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and James Toney.

Malek’s denials come as Hollywood comes under closer scrutiny for “whitewashing” – casting white actors to portray other ethnicities in roles.

The actor revealed the person he would love to play in a biopic was not a sportsman, but rather celebrated American comic actor, Buster Keaton.

“I will put it out there into the world,” he said, “I love the idea of playing Buster Keaton. I hope that one day, it comes to fruition. I think it will.”

Although the star has already signed on to his next role, thriller The Little Things alongside Denzel Washington and Jared Leto, he's still waiting to show his villainous side to the world as James Bond's nemesis, Safin, in the delayed 007 film, No Time to Die.

“I’m fine waiting for an environment where people feel safe and comfortable to go to the movie theatre,” he said of the film's delayed release date.

“The safety of the public is more important than me having anyone race to see their favourite film. If there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s for the most part that we can wait. We can be patient.”