Sacha Baron Cohen Back on the Freddie Mercury Biopic, Now With Total Creative Control
UPDATE: Sadly, it looks like the “announcement” here was actually a joke that was misinterpreted. According to Queen guitarist Brian May, articles on Beach’s acceptance speech:
“...[don’t] mention a small joke that Jim threw in during his acceptance speech. He said that, in response to enquiries about the progress on the Freddie feature film, that Sacha Baron Cohen had been re-engaged to write, produce, and direct the film, as well as starring in all four major roles ! I’m afraid some folks might have taken it seriously !”
It seems like that last part about starring in all four major rules got left out of The Daily Mail’s report. The full quote makes it clear Sacha Baron Cohen will not be singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” onscreen any time soon.
ORIGINAL POST: A biopic based on the life of legendary Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has been in the works for years, with Sacha Baron Cohen previously attached to star before he was forced off the project by surviving band members who disagreed with his vision. Since then, the project has fumbled, with various actors and directors rumored for the biopic, which has made negligible progress since Cohen’s departure. Now it appears that the surviving bandmates have had a change of heart, pulling Cohen back onto the project, this time granting him complete control.
The Daily Mail reports that Cohen is once again attached to the Mercury biopic, not only to star, but also to write and direct. During the Artist and Management Awards this week, Queen manager Jim Beach made the announcement:
An important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star.
Previously, the surviving band members were hesitant about Cohen’s involvement in the project — specifically, Brian May was concerned that Cohen’s prevalence as a comedic talent would not translate well to a more serious effort. Not only does Cohen have the near-perfect appearance and physicality required to play Mercury, but a more serious project would allow him to showcase a wider range to audiences more familiar with his various alter egos. It’s just the kind of role he needs — think Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love.
Since Cohen initially departed the project, actors like Dominic Cooper and Ben Whishaw have been linked to the role of Mercury, while directors including Tom Hooper, Stephen Frears and David Fincher (yeah, sure) were also rumored candidates at various times.
The surviving Queen members have made a complete 180, switching from having a lack of faith in Cohen to giving him total control. The biopic will mark Cohen’s directorial debut, which means these guys are placing a lot of trust in the actor to pull this thing off.