When 20th Century Fox released the debut trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, many viewers immediately blasted the film for appearing to “hetero-wash” Freddie Mercury’s life story. The first preview depicted the Queen frontman, portrayed by Rami Malek, flirting with the opposite sex and included no references to his queer identity or his AIDS diagnosis. 

Hollywood producer Bryan Fuller expressed his disappointment with Mercury’s depiction:

Subsequent trailers did a much better job at addressing these aspects of the singer’s life; however, there was still some concern that the upcoming film would downplay the protagonist sexuality and health issues.

Malek insists this isn’t the case.

“It’s a shame that people are making remarks after a minute teaser where you just wanna see the music,” Malek told Attitude. “It’s difficult. First, let me say that I don’t think the film shies away from his sexuality or his all-consuming disease, which is obviously AIDS. I don’t know how you could avoid any of that, or if anyone would ever want to. It’s a bit absurd that anyone’s judging this from a minute trailer.”

The 37-year-old actor went on to say that Mercury’s battle with AIDS is, of course, a sensitive subject, but needs to be addressed in order to fully grasp the singer’s legacy.

“The film needed to approach it in a delicate manner. You can’t shy away from it. It was an important moment to have in the film, one that ultimately is very sad but also empowering in a way,” Malek explained. “It shows you just how resilient human beings can be and how much we rely on the strength of our friends and family to get us through tough times. This pandemic is still very much a horrific threat to so many people in the world. It exists as a reality for so many that I think it would be a shame not to address it.”

You can read Malek’s full interview at Attitude’s website.

Bohemian Rhapsody hits U.S. theaters Nov. 2. The biopic was directed by Dexter Fletcher and co-stars Mike Meyers, Tom Hollander, Lucy Boynton, and Joseph Mazello.