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Following his Golden Globe win, his SAG Award win, and a handful of Oscar nominations for the film, Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek has finally addressed the controversy surrounding director Bryan Singer. While we appreciate Malek’s difficult position, this may be a case of too little too late.

Singer, whose films have brought in $3 billion at the box office thanks to hits like the X-Men franchise, The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns and more, has been accused of sexually assaulting and raping underage boys. Singer was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody three weeks before the movie wrapped, but it was the director’s ongoing absences and volatile behavior on set that led to his dismissal by 20th Century Fox, with the sexual assault claims being made public after the fact.

The press surrounding Bohemian Rhapsody has been marred by Singer’s involvement, with the film cleaning up at awards shows without any mention of the fallen director. Now Malek, who is nominated for an Oscar for his role as the late Freddie Mercury, has addressed the allegations against Singer.

Speaking at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival over the weekend, Malek was asked about the new exposé in The Atlantic, which includes victim statements from four men alleging that Singer sexually assaulted them when they were minors.

“My heart goes out to anyone who has to live through anything like what I’ve heard and what is out there,” said Malek. “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.”

Malek, who is described as visibly emotional during the discussion, said he hopes the focus of the film can remain on Queen and Mercury, but still wants to be respectful to the alleged victims. “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.”

Although the article in The Atlantic arrived following the completion of Bohemian Rhapsody, the rumours surrounding Singer’s involvement with underage boys have been persistent for decades. A series of lawsuits were filed against Singer after underage film extras were forced to appear naked in his 1997 film Apt Pupil. In November 2017, a petition was started by students at UCLA to have Singer’s name removed from the building at his alma mater. Three days after Singer’s dismissal was announced in December 2017, a man named Cesar Sanchez-Guzman filed a lawsuit alleging that the director had raped him in 2003 when Sanchez-Guzman was 17.

Malek and the rest of the cast and crew of Bohemian Rhapsody should not be forced to pay for Singer’s alleged abusive behaviour, but throughout award season it has felt as though the refusal to address the allegations has become an elephant in the room full of celebrities. Ignoring a scandal has never worked in Hollywood and had Malek made his comments months ago, it would feel less like all those involved in the film were trying to ignore Singer’s role in the Queen biopic.

As for the disgraced director, Bryan Singer still stands to make $40 million from his work on Bohemian Rhapsody.