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From Mr. Robot to Oppenheimer: Rami Malek's Best Roles

Rami Malek plays a scientist who helped create the atomic bomb that ended World War II, but in a past role he was a soldier fighting in the war. 

By James Grebey
Rami Malek

It’s appropriate that Oppenheimer, a movie about a big bomb, would also have a big cast. In addition to stars Cillian Murphy and Matt Damon, the latest Christopher Nolan film is stacked with huge actors and actresses, including one actor who is very near and dear to USA Network. Rami Malek, the star of Mr. Robot, is one of the many stars in Oppenheimer. In the film, which opens in theaters on July 21, he plays David Hill, one of the scientists who Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer recruits to come to the Nevada desert and help invent the atomic bomb. 

Before he was building bombs, though, Malek was coming alive in natural history museums, fighting in World War II, hacking, and being a rock star (the last of which won him an Academy Award.) In the lead-up to Oppenheimer’s release, here’s a rundown of some of Malek's most notable roles. 

RELATED: Oppenheimer Stars Explain Why Working with Christopher Nolan Is an "Instant Yes"

Night at the Museum Series (2008-2014)

Malek, the son of Egyptian immigrant parents, was a fitting choice to play Pharaoh Ahkmenrah, the Egyptian leader whose magical tablet caused all the various exhibits at the Natural History Museum to come to life at night. Malek co-starred with Ben Stiller and would go on to reprise his role in the sequels, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009, and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.

The War at Home (2005-2007)

In this two-season Fox sitcom about a dysfunctional Long Island family, Malek plays Khaleel Nazeeh "Kenny" Al-Bahir, the best friend of one of the main characters (who he harbors a secret, unrequited crush on). Although the show received largely negative reviews, Kenny’s “coming out” arc in the second season drew praise.

The Pacific (2010)

Malek plays Cpl. Merriell "Snafu" Shelton in this HBO miniseries, a World War II drama which did for the Pacific Theater what Band of Brothers did for the European Theater. Shelton (who was a real person) features in the back half of the miniseries, fighting against the Japanese shortly before the deployment of the atomic bomb — a weapon that another Malek character would help invent in Oppenheimer.

The Master (2012)

Malek has an important but understated role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, where he plays the son-in-law of a cult leader played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Joaquin Phoenix plays a potential new recruit to the cult, though Malek’s character does not think he’s a good fit for the organization. 

Short Term 12 (2013)

Brie Larson stars in this acclaimed independent drama as a supervisor at a group home for troubled teenagers. Malek plays Nate, a new counselor who initially seems like he might not have what it takes to connect with and mentor this group of youths, though he’s allowed to get his own arc.  

Mr. Robot (2015-2019)

Malek plays Elliot Alderson, the lead of USA Network’s celebrated techno-thriller Mr. Robot. Elliot finds himself recruited by an insurrectionary anarchist, "Mr. Robot" (Christian Slater)... or does he? If you haven’t yet seen this twisty-turny series, which was created by Sam Esmail, we won’t spoil any more here. 

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Malek won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in this biopic about the lead singer of the iconic band Queen. Though critics had quibbles with some aspects of the film, Malek’s performance was widely praised.

The Little Things (2021)

Malek stars as an up-and-coming detective in 1990s Los Angeles, where he works alongside Denzel Washington’s more senior but haunted investigator to solve a murder. Malek’s character is pretty positive that Jared Leto’s eerie loner is the culprit, but can he really be sure?

No Time to Die (2021)

Lyutsifer Safin, Malek’s poison-obsessed villain in the most recent James Bond movie, might not be in the top tier of Bond Baddies but he’s a memorable — and intriguing — presence. (Also, Lyutsifer Safin? What a name!)

Oppenheimer premieres in theaters on July 21.