Whishaw, known for his role as the new Q in the James Bond film Skyfall—a role he will reprise in the announced Bond 24 project—is no stranger to portraying legendary artists. He played one of six aspects/incarnations of Bob Dylan in 2007’s I’m Not There, his role based on the poet Arthur Rimbaud.
Whishaw is currently filming In the Heart of the Sea, a movie surrounding the events inspiring the novel Moby Dick, cast in the role of Herman Melville. With the portrayal of Freddie Mercury in a biopic, it may be difficult for him to settle into small roles.
Whishaw joins the Freddie Mercury biopic with the exit of previously-cast Sacha Baron Cohen, whose departure stemmed from creative differences. Queen guitarist Brian May—clearly an authority for any Freddie Mercury discussion—later elaborated on the need for Baron Cohen’s egress from the biopic, saying his presence would overshadow that of Freddie Mercury (is that even possible?).
“It’s quite difficult to talk about,” the Queen guitarist told Classic Rock about the Freddie Mercury biopic, “because we owe Sacha a lot. He had so much enthusiasm for the project and it really helped us kick it into the start position. But in the end we felt that his presence in the movie would be very distracting.
May invoked the actor’s latest films, Hugo, The Dictator and Les Miserables, as “very Sacha Baron Cohen performances,” feeling that would potentially be a distraction for the Freddie Mercury biopic.
“That’s not any criticism of his talent whatsoever, it’s just a feeling that it was not going to work – that the pieces didn’t fit together anymore. But we parted company on very good terms,” May added.
What do you think of the casting of Ben Whishaw in the role of Freddie Mercury in the biopic project? Could Sacha have embodied Freddie Mercury in the biopic without being a distraction? What casting suggestions do you have for the other members of Queen in the as-yet-untitled Freddie Mercury biopic?