Malek, who was honored Friday at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his turn as Freddie Mercury, was asked by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg, who moderated the discussion, about the claims. In an exposé published by The Atlantic last week, Singer was accused by four men of having sex with them while they were underage.
“My heart goes out to anyone who has to live through anything like what I’ve heard and what is out there,” Malek told the audience at Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theatre. “It’s awful, it’s remarkable that this happens, I can appreciate so much what they’ve been through and how difficult this must be for them. In the light of the #MeToo era that this somehow seems to exist after that, it’s a horrible thing.”
Pivoting to his own experience with the director, the star said he found it difficult to talk about because he didn’t want to take away from the focus on Mercury and Queen, but said he doesn’t “want anyone to not feel like they can share their story.”
“I’ve sat here and talked about how everyone deserves a voice and anyone who wants to talk about what happened with Bryan deserves to have their voice heard,” Malek said. “In my situation with Bryan, it was not pleasant, not at all. And that’s about what I can say about it at this point.”
A visibly emotional Malek paused while the audience applauded, and then added, “For anyone who is seeking any solace in all of this, Bryan Singer was fired. Bryan Singer was fired, I don’t think that was something anyone saw coming but I think that had to happen and it did.”
Singer was fired before Bohemian Rhapsody was completed, but for not showing up to work on the film rather than for abuse allegations. The director has denied those allegations, and Malek has previously said he was unaware of claims against Singer before taking on the film. Despite his firing, Singer will still make $40 million from the Freddie Mercury biopic.
These are not the first abuse allegations against him, as in December 2017, Singer was accused of rape by Cesar Sanchez-Guzman, who claimed Singer forced him to engage in oral and anal sex while aboard a yacht in Seattle in 2003 when he was just 17. Even after the new accusations, Singer will keep his directing job on the upcoming Red Sonja.
Elsewhere in the conversation, Malek detailed the early days of his career, starting with a guest spot on Gilmore Girls, all the way to his starring role on Mr. Robot and in Bohemian Rhapsody. He spoke specifically about early challenges being typecast for his Egyptian background, saying, “I looked at the auditions and I knew I could probably get the terrorist role. It’s funny but it’s sad.”
He continued, “At one point I said, ‘This isn’t how I want to represent myself, I’m more than just that, and if I keep doing that I’m going to typecast myself and pigeonhole myself’ and ultimately I drew the line in the sand and said that’s it. If there’s a role I will definitely represent myself and my culture and my heritage but it will be in a positive portrayal down the line.”
Malek also reflected on winning an Emmy in 2016 for his portrayal of Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot, how he prepared to take on Freddie Mercury and his relationship with the members of Queen. Bohemian Rhapsody costars Lucy Boynton and Joseph Mazzello were also in attendance.
This article originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.