Details on Why Sacha Baron Cohen Dropped Out of the Freddie Mercury Biopic

One of the most disappointing film announcements happened a year and some change ago when it was reported that Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) was going to portray the Queen front man and David Fincher was highly interested to direct. The problems began to surface when it was detailed that the living members of Queen didn’t want to have a film showcasing all the “Rated-R” moments in his life and felt it would taint his legacy. Of course, no one wants a censored Freddie Mercury biopic so it comes off as pretty conservative for a band that nearly ruled the world in their time together.

Recently, Cohen came out and made these comments on The Howard Stern Show:

There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. He was living an extreme lifestyle [of] debauchery. There are stories of little people with plates of cocaine on their heads walking around a party. It [becomes] a less interesting movie, but you’ve got to remember that they want to protect their legacy as a band, and they want it to be about Queen. And I fully understand that. [After] my first meeting, I should never have carried on because a member of the band —I won’t say who— said, ‘This is such a great movie, because such an amazing thing happens in the middle of the movie.’ I go, ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes, ‘Freddie dies.’ I go, ‘So you mean it’s a bit like ‘Pulp Fiction,’ where the end is the middle and the middle is the end? That’s interesting.’ He goes, ‘No no no.’ So I said, ‘Wait a minute. What happens in the second half of the movie?’ And he said, ‘Well, we see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’ And I said, ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from AIDS and then you carry on to see [what happens to the band].

I couldn’t agree with his statements more. I definitely wouldn’t want to see a movie about one of my favorite musicians only for him to have his infamous death happen in the middle of the film. Cohen was right to leave a project like this, but it makes the wound that much more painful because he would have been the perfect actor for the wild singer.

Bryan May has broken our hearts with his decisions to not stay true to his friend and iconic band-mate. This would have been one of the richest musician biopics in recent memory if it ended up getting David Fincher and Rush screenwriter Peter Morgan like Cohen had wanted. The Danish Girl director Tom Hooper was also a candidate to direct the film, but this will likely be a film that will only get its respect once the other band members either pass or simply change their mind as time goes on.


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