Sacha Baron Cohen has pulled out of the planned Freddie Mercury biopic that would have detailed the life of the late Queen frontman. The reason: creative differences with the band’s surviving members.
According to Deadline, Cohen saw the film as “a gritty R-rated tell-all centered around the gifted gay singer.” Queen, on the other hand, wanted a PG movie more focused on the band itself.
The role had long been for Sacha Baron Cohen, who closely resembles Mercury, to refuse, and now it appears that he has, but not after making significant contributions to the project.
The website noted that he was instrumental in bringing in Peter Morgan to write as well as directors like David Fincher and Tom Hooper for help on development.
(The band reportedly never approved any of these efforts, at least on the directorial end.)
And now with Cohen’s departure from the Freddie Mercury biopic, that means “no formal offer could go out to Hooper,” the report stated.
The news is definitely a setback, and it’s hard to imagine Queen being able to find anyone capable of capturing the Mercury look in a way that comes so naturally for the Borat star.
In March, things were rather promising for the project. Cohen was still attached (even taking singing lessons for the role), and Blake Lively had moved into negotiations for the role of Mary Austin, a former girlfriend to Mercury.
In retrospect, we probably should have seen this one coming when screenwriter Morgan told Time Out that the film would be more about each part of the band and not focus on Mercury exclusively.
Morgan described the band as “sensitive” about the “rancour and disagreements” the film will show.
“In a way, the film, for me, reflects my own experience of filmmaking as a collaborative process. Just as a film is never the result of one person, so the band doesn’t like the idea of Queen being ‘A Band by Freddie Mercury’ — and they’re right. It won’t just be about Freddie Mercury,” Morgan said.
Well, Queen fans, hate to hear it, but maybe this’ll cheer you all up for a couple of minutes:
Who do you think will be able to replace Sacha Baron Cohen in the Freddie Mercury biopic, and do you think Queen is making a wise decision?