The ceiling fan whirred as I sat on my couch, dabbing at the persistent drops of sweat on my forehead from the sweltering Los Angeles heat. Or perhaps I’d gone warm from the sight of Rami Malek at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards, tailored for the gods in Dior Homme. I began to sweat enough that I could no longer tell the difference between my own perspiration and the condensation from the glass of Bulleit bourbon with a single square of ice I held in my hands.
I felt like Amanda Wingfield, erstwhile Southern belle, meeting a gentleman caller. His white tux with matching lapel and rose-gold Mont Blanc studs made him look like a Southern murderer about to seduce Big Daddy’s daughter. He’s the antihero in every single Tennesee Williams play. He’s Atticus Finch without the trash segregation ideology wrested onto the page by an avaricious book agent. He’s the cool breeze on a hot summer day, smelling like honeysuckle and murder, when the air conditioner isn’t working and your only respite from the heat is to massage yourself with a beverage fresh from the ice box. So naturally, he won the Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series and took to the stage to accept accolades for his genius work in Mr. Robot.
On Mr. Robot, Rami portrays Elliot Alderson, an anxious, paranoid hacker. He’s often dressed down in an unassuming hoodie, much like Rami whenever he’s flying. “I always wear a hoodie at the airport, and then I put it on and somebody snapped a shot of me and I started to think, Oh no, they’re just going to think I am him.” But you'd never mistake Rami for Elliot at the Emmys, where his deep, Aunt Jemima–soaked voice can finally be put to good use. He sounded like a riverboat swindler that could have my millions for just a bottle of bourbon and a night in his sapphire 1958 Chevrolet Impala.
Born to Egyptian parents, Rami is actually Los Angeles–born, like all dreamers who flock to the city claim to be. The city’s old glamour has taken to him, welcomed him into a camaraderie with Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, and Montgomery Clift. Los Angeles is no stranger to earthquakes, but when the ground shook, it was was Preston Sturges himself clawing his way from the soil to recast Henry Fonda’s role in The Lady Eve. The night roared on, but there was a palpable lack of oxygen in the Hollywood air … Rami had taken our breath away.