Is Rami Malek Playing Manny Pacquiao in a Netflix Film?

And DiCaprio as Coach Roach?
IMAGE Getty/Shutterstock

First Freddie Mercury, now… Manny Pacquiao? In our dreams.

After weeks of speculation, Oscar winning actor Rami Malek has confirmed that he will not be portraying famed boxer and controversial politician Manny Pacquiao.

Malek’s name was floated along with Leonardo DiCaprio’s in a supposed biopic of the boxing champ, who in 2020 shared that the film would be streamed on Netflix. Pacquiao also confirmed that DiCaprio was suggested for the role of Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s longtime friend and coach.

But to all who are eager to see Malek portray Pacquiao, it looks like that’s now off the table.

“I can absolutely deny that. That’s fascinating. No, I will definitely not be playing Manny Pacquiao,” confirmed Malek to Rappler, who also mentioned this was the first time he’d heard of the rumor when asked about it.

“For someone of Filipino origin, it would be nice to see that person being played by somebody from that country,” added Malek, who seems to support the idea of a Filipino portraying a Filipino in a potential film.

So far, Pacquiao confirmed that there are three films from different production companies being pitched, one being Netflix, but none have been seriously discussed.

Nahinto yung pagu-usap namin about sa ganyang mga transaction especially sa boxing career ko kasi itong sa pandemic, naka-focus ako doon sa pagtulong,” Pacquiao said.

In the last few years, Pacquiao’s life has taken a controversial turn after his entrance into politics, so a biopic about the boxer will no doubt be a rollercoaster ride. For now, with a potential film still in the conceptual stage, it might take years for it to be released, and it’s highly unlikely it’ll be out this year or next.


This year, Pacquiao’s prioritizing his return to boxing, including his wish to fight against UFC champion Conor McGregor for the sake of experiencing fighting an MMA fighter firsthand. There’s also rumors of a 2022 presidential run, a question he’s dodged for a while, but that’s a debate for another time.


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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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